Space Opera + Queer x Cozy = Becky Chambers
July 8, 2018 6:46 AM   Subscribe

If you grew up reading and watching Space Opera science fiction, you may have grown out of it because many of the tropes around gender and relationships are so retrograde. But from over the horizon, here comes Becky Chambers to the rescue!

While Star Wars is being torn apart by fans who want more or less women in the story; while Star Trek is finally including gay characters, and then killing them; while the Expanse is trying to balance its diverse cast with its white male savior character; The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet is breaking new ground in an old genre.

It’s a future that feels familiar to those of us who grew up on Asimov and Harry Harrison, but with more words devoted to friendship and fashion than to laser guns. It’s a universe that still has problems to solve, but being gay or bi or poly is unremarkable and only speciesists have a problem with sentients from different planets getting it on.

With a second book in the Galactic Commons series out and a new one dropping this month, you can enjoy plenty of time in Chambers’s galaxy. You won’t find great conflicts of Good and Evil, or grand sacrifices for Honor’s sake, or world-spanning battles. This is more like Firefly crossed with Futurama, except almost everyone is trying not to be an asshole.

(Thanks, Eyebrows, for the accidental recommendation!)
posted by rikschell (64 comments total) 45 users marked this as a favorite
 
Cough Chip Delany cough. Read Triton, (1976) the story has not just trans topics integral to the plot but well considered introspection on the issues and implications of very fluid gender technology.

I enjoyed small angry planet, it was a fun read, not deep but a good space opera. I was actually expecting the angry planet to be earth but it's set far far away.
posted by sammyo at 7:01 AM on July 8 [9 favorites]


Not to be confused with the Catherynne M. Valente novella Space Opera, which is more along the lines of "what if Eurovision, the Flash Gordon soundtrack, Space Oddity, and Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy were all co-parents of the apocalypse?" (I can't help but see at least two of the species described as backup for Lordi.

Feminist, LGBTQ, and multicultural print science fiction has evolved well past its origins of one-page mailing list rec lists to being spoiled for choice.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 7:38 AM on July 8 [9 favorites]


Becki Chambers is one of my favorite new sci-fi authors. Small, angry planet is some of the best character study sci-fi I’ve ever read and a wonderful escape from the militarization of space opera back to something more human. It’s also hopeful when so much of our cultural output seems bereft of hope. I cannot wait for her new book to drop!

I’d like to second Valente’s Space Opera. I think this book might be the true heir to Hitchhikers Guide.
posted by Lighthammer at 7:48 AM on July 8 [4 favorites]


You know, I read the Ask question last week about if this book was kid friendly, and reflected a little on the world building I’d like to see my kids consume. I immediately added both Becky Chamber’s books and Space Opera by Catherynne Valente to my son and daughter’s Kindle family library. (They are teens, but I think these books are ok for a mature tweener too.)
posted by Malla at 7:51 AM on July 8 [1 favorite]


I like Angry Planet a lot, it’s general good naturedness and it being a series of vignettes makes it a very easy read, but A Closed and Common Orbot is much better and much more thematically focused and would probably be the one if recommend.

But, you know, you can probably find time to read both.

Really looking forwards to a third one.
posted by Artw at 7:54 AM on July 8 [5 favorites]


Love both Chamber and Valente's books.
I do think, however, that the forefront of the struggle for queer and diverse representation in Space Opera in any media is Steven Universe, by a very very large factor.
posted by signal at 7:55 AM on July 8 [10 favorites]


If I found the video so tweeI has to stop watching within a minute should I try the books?
posted by Iteki at 7:55 AM on July 8


A lot of people bounce off of Small Angry Planet because there's little sustained external conflict to the character studies of people learning to work together. Closed and Common Orbit tells parallel stories of people who are on the margins of galactic culture attempting to build lives for themselves. Both have a bit of twee to them, but the great thing about ebooks is that you can always try a sample.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 8:04 AM on July 8 [4 favorites]


I really wanted to like ALWraaP but holy hell does it have a bad case of US single accent characters. Way too much American SF dresses up standard American stereotypes in alien skins that are themselves just pre-existing species with blue fur (I'm glaring at you David Brin and your multi species groups of high school kids who quote Mark Twain)
In the seventies it was militarised space going cats, now it's pansexual reptiloids. All American in all their assumptions.
posted by thatwhichfalls at 8:08 AM on July 8 [8 favorites]


i love them both for different reasons.

Closed and Common Orbit def fit inside of me though. it made me feel warm and fuzzy, esp at the end. i think of the ending scene quite a bit and it seems like a happy place i'd love to visit and be welcome to.



i'm not sure if white guy savior refers to Capt Holden or to the detective guy. the detective guy is a Belter, not an earth guy, which is rather important in the world the story takes place in. the books are quite fantastic and Holden's struggles are pretty real bc he does not want to be the guy from earth telling other people what to do and he struggles a lot with what is right and what will keep his crew safe and what happens when those things don't line up easily. he does not think he knows better than everyone and is not a stereotypical captain.

i think The Expanse does a really good job of trying to balance the heroic ones in the stories. Avarasala is just as much a hero as Holden. i have found way more female role models and heroes in The Expanse than almost anything else and i have to almost constantly remind myself it was written by two dudes. i suspect they are good people and have some interesting and patient friends who give feedback :)

posted by sio42 at 8:15 AM on July 8 [8 favorites]


> thatwhichfalls:
"In the seventies it was militarised space going cats, now it's pansexual reptiloids."

Now it's Gay Polymorphic Sentient Space Rocks.
posted by signal at 8:15 AM on July 8 [5 favorites]


I really enjoyed The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, having had it recommended to me by several friends when I asked for not-depressing science fiction. I didn't like A Closed and Common Orbit anywhere near as much; I think I came into it with the wrong expectations, and as a consequence, it didn't work as well for me as the first book. That said, I really enjoy Becky Chambers' authorial voice, so I'll absolutely pick up #3 when it comes out.
posted by Making You Bored For Science at 8:18 AM on July 8


"Now it's Gay Polymorphic Sentient Space Rocks."
Obviously, like all right thinking sentient entities, I am entirely behind this development.
posted by thatwhichfalls at 8:25 AM on July 8 [2 favorites]


I totally agree with your assessment of the Expanse, by the way. It subverts tropes well, but I really like how Chambers bypasses a lot of those tropes altogether. Her approach is not the only one, but it left me hopeful and nostalgic, comforted in a way that’s been very rare for me in the past two years.
posted by rikschell at 8:39 AM on July 8 [2 favorites]


I didn't read the first two books as "queer" per se. Yeah, there's a relationship in there that counts for sure, but it makes all kinds of sense without being couched as such. It is really about a group of people learning each other and how to love, trust, and support each other as I see it.
posted by Samizdata at 8:54 AM on July 8


> Making You Bored For Science:
"I really enjoyed The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, having had it recommended to me by several friends when I asked for not-depressing science fiction. I didn't like A Closed and Common Orbit anywhere near as much; I think I came into it with the wrong expectations, and as a consequence, it didn't work as well for me as the first book. That said, I really enjoy Becky Chambers' authorial voice, so I'll absolutely pick up #3 when it comes out."

Same here.
posted by Samizdata at 8:54 AM on July 8


Huh I liked the second book even more than the first. The narrative felt more solid to me. It took a little while to get going but I ended up really liking it.

I've heard these books often mentioned in the same breath as The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells.
posted by Nelson at 9:14 AM on July 8 [4 favorites]


Those are also great!
posted by Artw at 9:26 AM on July 8 [4 favorites]


I dropped Long Way since nothing much happened not even interesting group dynamics. I enjoyed the first Murderbot book despite the twee name. Unfortunately the remaining books are basically novellas at novel prices so am not super motivated to pick them up.
posted by biffa at 9:32 AM on July 8 [2 favorites]


The fact that Long Way was full of obvious goodwill was what made it readable for me. Unfortunately I was a bit underwhelmed otherwise. The travelogue is a venerable structure for an SF novel but I wasn't awed by a stretch of aliens with basically human psychology. (I mentioned in my goodreads review that the only 'truly' alien seeming mindset was in the angry-planet types, and they didn't fit in the community, which I'm sure is the opposite of Chambers' feelings towards inclusivity.)

But the comparison to Harry Harrison is on point. I read his ilk for a while and think I've probably just hit my lifetime consumption limit for the basic form of this genre. But for those who haven't it's only good to get options like Chambers.
posted by mark k at 10:01 AM on July 8 [1 favorite]


Regarding Martha Wells, I usually avoid anything shorter than novels, but I'm too invested in Murderbot not to buy the third novella when it comes out.

I'm in the group that liked A Closed and Common Orbit better than the first. I've never quite understood why some people dislike these books because while they are set in a typical space opera context, it's not as if no one's ever written smaller scale stories in such settings before. I mean, I like SFF where the stakes are massive, but I generally just enjoy a good story. That said, these aren't especially great character studies, either -- these aren't literary in that sense. They're light reading. Nothing wrong with that.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:07 AM on July 8 [2 favorites]


I loved loved loved Closed and Common Orbit tremendously. It's one of my favorite books of the past year. TLWTASAP...I did not love as much. It felt like someone had written a condensed novelization of a season of a very episodic TV show. I actually think it would make a great season of a SyFy show for that exact reason. Put Michelle Lovretta in charge and cast Vincent Rodriguez III as Ashby Santoso, Jennifer Spence as Kizzy Shao and David Nykl as Corbin. Still stumped on Jenks and Rosemary but I'm sure someone else will have an idea!
posted by rednikki at 10:11 AM on July 8 [1 favorite]


I can recommend A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe by Alex White if you like this kind of space opera.
posted by fallingbadgers at 10:41 AM on July 8 [2 favorites]


The first book was too twee for me by a mile but I can see why so many took such great comfort in it. It was a warm flannel blanket of a book. Murderbot was far more to my liking. I just wish there was a full-length novel instead of these novellas.

Don't go dissing The Expanse. Holden might be the centerpiece but these series is ridiculously diverse. And if you've ever seen the Twitter accounts of either of the authors you'd know they're definitely good guys. Franck has been particularly invested in taunting and destroying bros who think women writers have no place in the genre and TV.
posted by Ber at 10:44 AM on July 8 [6 favorites]


Holden does suffer a lot from Boring Central Character Syndrome.
posted by Artw at 10:46 AM on July 8 [5 favorites]


I also dropped this midway after having it recced here on the green as a Steven Universe feel-alike. TBH I suspect the only thing that feels like steven universe is girly anime. This just didn't seem to have much of anything happening! But perhaps I should try again.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:48 AM on July 8 [2 favorites]


I loved both these books and have the third on pre-order, I just loved that they were such positive experiences. I read a lot of sff, especially fantasy, and there is a lot of grim out there, so lovely to experience something with joy and love.

Although hugely different it made me feel the same way I did when I watched Black Panther, positive and hopeful as opposed to "life is pain"
posted by Fence at 11:13 AM on July 8 [2 favorites]


It’s a future that feels familiar to those of us who grew up on Asimov and Harry Harrison....

A not-so-fun reminder from the late and already forgotten Joanna Russ: Please don't write women out of your science fiction history when you're trying to promote recent female writers.

Bujold is almost certainly the prominent space opera writer, and, while her writing probably has gender issues, they're not the gender issues of the Golden Age writers. Prior to that, Andre Norton (speaking of forgotten!) was one of the more prominent space opera writers. And yes, Everything Is Problematic, but pointing to Asimov and Harrison instead of Norton and Bujold is a great way to write women out of history.

(See also, all the think pieces presenting NK Jamison as one of the first female fantasy writers.)
posted by steady-state strawberry at 11:45 AM on July 8 [18 favorites]


IIRC for me, TLWtaSAP started off feeling a tad twee and kind of reminiscent of the sort of meandering fanfiction that you only read because you're already invested in that particular world and I was all set to give up on it about a third of the way in when it somehow morphed into a gripping read because I started really caring about the characters.

ACaCO didn't work quite as well for me, but the third book is on pre-order regardless.
posted by pharm at 11:51 AM on July 8 [1 favorite]


Bujold is almost certainly the prominent space opera writer, and, while her writing probably has gender issues, they're not the gender issues of the Golden Age writers. Prior to that, Andre Norton (speaking of forgotten!) was one of the more prominent space opera writers. And yes, Everything Is Problematic, but pointing to Asimov and Harrison instead of Norton and Bujold is a great way to write women out of history.

Also Anne McCaffrey and CJ Cherryh.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:04 PM on July 8 [10 favorites]


Cough Chip Delany cough. Read Triton, (1976) the story has not just trans topics integral to the plot but well considered introspection on the issues and implications of very fluid gender technology.

Oh wow. I would like to second this book, a really excellent and progressive bit of literature. And it has a boardgame, a wonderful boardgame that had my mind reeling as a young man. I am still waiting for something like he imagined to be made real. Delany is wonderful, and this is one of his really good ones. Check it out.
posted by Meatbomb at 12:11 PM on July 8 [3 favorites]


I really love Triton, but light reading it is not. (nor is it what I would call "space opera".)

It's basically a really long book about an unhappy man stalking a woman.
posted by selfnoise at 12:23 PM on July 8 [3 favorites]


Bujold gets shortchanged in these discussions, especially given how in at least half of the Vorkosigan novels key conflicts center on what forms of reproductive technology are available, who controls it, and how it is used. Barryar is a culture that had nuclear weapons but not uterine replicators. Beta provides the means of reproduction to anyone who desires it and meets certain parenting standards. Athos is a single-gendered society whose only contact with women involves buying donated eggs. Cetaganda is a eugenicist state run by a quasi-religious cabal of women who control genetic engineering. On Jackson's Hole, cloning is used alternately for ghoulish body transplants or creation of entire kinship structures of identical twins. Quaddies were genetically engineered to be slaves.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 1:04 PM on July 8 [11 favorites]


Bujold is almost certainly the prominent space opera writer,

Also Anne McCaffrey and CJ Cherryh.

Throw Ann Leckie in this mix as well. Surprised her name hasn't come up yet, usually it happens whenever there is any discussion of Space Opera as a genre. Highly recommending Ancillary Justice.
posted by Fizz at 1:10 PM on July 8 [5 favorites]


Her name is N. K. Jemisin.

I haven't seen such thinkpieces myself, but of course people can be silly.
posted by inconstant at 1:12 PM on July 8 [1 favorite]


The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells

I had been meaning to read these, and grabbed a freebie ebook from Tor, and then forgot about it. Then found it and decided to start reading it at a local pub one afternoon.

Plowed straight through it.

Bought the second book the next day, repeat.

Go to buy books three and four and realized they weren't out yet, got so upset* I had to go sit in a corner and rewatch old TV episodes.

They are, however, very definitely part of militarized-space fictions so I dunno if they quite jive with the subject books.


*(not** really)

**(i mean yes a little bit really, they're so good, i need them)

posted by curious nu at 1:27 PM on July 8 [3 favorites]


One of the interesting things about ACaCO is that it deftly avoids the Pinocchio/Terminator dichotomy in dealing with AI. Our AI character doesn't quite have a human mentality, and though they want to integrate into society, they decide they don't want to become "human". Really, the story is abut them finding their own way.
posted by happyroach at 3:02 PM on July 8 [2 favorites]


I really want more Kizzy making up her own lyrics to songs, is that so wrong?
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 3:12 PM on July 8 [5 favorites]


Oh man, no more Pinnochio plots forever. Done to fucking death.
posted by Artw at 3:14 PM on July 8 [3 favorites]


I'm really glad this comment thread is so full of great recommendations.

My first job was shelving books in a library and I just devoured SF books at the time. I quickly learned that it was easy to find amazing and progressive stuff, and step one was to just ignore the licensed property stuff.

Of course you'll come away with the idea that the genre is inherently retrograde if you read Star Wars and Star Trek licensed property, ghostwritten, churned out mainstream crap and cold war era "old master" stuff. Same if you read the military heavy airport novel dross subsection or the libertarian jerk-off subsection. But it isn't even that hard to find the good stuff, a lot of it was award winning!

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet is on my to-read list and I'm excited to get to it, but lets not let the TV fandom side of SF, in their well meaning ignorance, erase the contributions of the socialists, progressives, afrofuturists and "inter-sectional feminist before the term existed"s who have been doing work for decades.
posted by Infracanophile at 3:23 PM on July 8 [3 favorites]


Star Trek licensed property is really good though? I’m not sure where you’re getting that it’s mainstream crap? The deep space 9 reboot books are really good, and the way they wrapped up the borg plot also? Maybe the Star Trek books from the early 80s but the stuff coming out since the 2000s has been consistently very good?
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 3:34 PM on July 8 [2 favorites]


Specifically want to rec Diane Duane and AC Crispin's Vulcan books as awesome busy universe space opera written by ladies.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:41 PM on July 8 [3 favorites]


Chuck Wendig Actually does some pretty good work with Star Wars. And the Marvel comics are pretty great, of course.
posted by Artw at 3:44 PM on July 8 [2 favorites]


I certainly dismissed them pretty quickly, and working in a library will expose you to the best literature (librarians know a lot and want to share that knowledge) which will turn you into an elitist snob about literature, even the genre stuff.

I don't doubt I missed a few good things when I dismissed the licensed stuff. But do you mean it is Butler/Banks/Reynolds/Atwood/Hurley/LeGuin/Leckie/Palmer good or "Star Trek TNG/DS9 tv shows" good? Do you have any compunction about calling it literature?

Maybe someone here who has both read both can chime in? If anywhere, I bet this is the place.

While I'm typing I will add another "hell yes" to the Anne Leckie's Ancillary Justice recommendation and add that Ada Palmer's Too Like the Lightening will break your brain and change your life if you let it.
posted by Infracanophile at 4:53 PM on July 8 [2 favorites]


working in a library will expose you to the best literature (librarians know a lot and want to share that knowledge) which will turn you into an elitist snob about literature, even the genre stuff.

I'm in my twenty-fifth year as a professional librarian, and I'm far from an elitist snob--I like my popular-property-based stuff and independent works. Jemisin just wrote a book based on the latest Mass Effect game. To cite the meme, as the kids like to do, ¿Por qué no tenemos los dos?
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:19 PM on July 8 [6 favorites]


I was being a bit hyperbolic there. I love a fun escapist book when that's what I want. But I will use the phrase "guilty pleasure" without feeling bad about using it. There are fun, enjoyable books that expose you to new ideas, that challenge you, that can make you a better person. And then there are those that are just fun and enjoyable, which is still great.

They taught me to appreciate, and not be intimidated by, the former. Which changed my life. I'm also aware that these days making high/low art distinctions is considered elitist or snobbish by many so I owned that up front.
posted by Infracanophile at 5:42 PM on July 8




The things I loved most about these books was that there was an interesting variety of romantic orientations and genders depicted, the characters were overall pretty nice to each other, there were enough explosions and space exploits to make things interesting, and in the end, good things happened to most of the characters. We exist in a very exciting time for dark fantasy and sci-fi, and sometimes I get so tired of it. These books are cozy and everyone tries their best in them. I've listened to the audiobooks of both books 4 times each (my commute is long). People doing their best (in space) is exactly what I need in this absolute shithole timeline.
posted by a hat out of hell at 6:56 PM on July 8 [6 favorites]


I wasn’t trying to write anyone out of history, I was just naming authors I loved as a kid and abandoned as problematic. I’m sorry my mid century Midwest library didn’t have the women authors of the time!
posted by rikschell at 8:07 PM on July 8 [2 favorites]


I loved both. The first is a character study with a light plot, the second is more thoughtful, intense and heavy. I'm curious to see what direction the next one goes (I didn't know about it until now, preordered.)
posted by Hactar at 10:02 PM on July 8 [3 favorites]


Murderbot and Expanse books are the only books I've ever pre-ordered on my kindle.

The Murderbot books are expensive for the length but the quality is A+so I'm ok with supporting that.
posted by sio42 at 10:32 PM on July 8 [1 favorite]


[A few deleted. Don't twist people's words to make it seem as though they are saying things they never said or indicated. Don't assume that anyone who doesn't phrase things in exactly the way you would is somehow a bad person. If you are not sure of someone's meaning, ask.]
posted by taz (staff) at 1:13 AM on July 9 [3 favorites]


I'm in my twenty-fifth year as a professional librarian, and I'm far from an elitist snob--I like my popular-property-based stuff and independent works. Jemisin just wrote a book based on the latest Mass Effect game

This is a curious one. Mass Effect: Initiation is listed as by Jemisin and Mac Walters, which is weird as other high-profile ME books, by Cathrynne Valente for example, don't have that dual author thing going on. Combine that with Jemisin's twitter being strangely silent about the book since it was announced - she's an enthusiastic ME superfan and good with the updates on her writing - and it feels like something is off on the editorial/publishing/Bioware side.
posted by ocular shenanigans at 1:20 AM on July 9 [3 favorites]


I was being a bit hyperbolic there. I love a fun escapist book when that's what I want. But I will use the phrase "guilty pleasure" without feeling bad about using it. There are fun, enjoyable books that expose you to new ideas, that challenge you, that can make you a better person. And then there are those that are just fun and enjoyable, which is still great.

Plenty of licensed books have heft, and always have. My all time favorite was one of the first in the Alien Nation series, Day of Descent, which was like District 9 but more thoughtful. Spock's World is a beautiful book. Also would like to make a shout out to Andrew Robinson's A stitch in time, a character study of his character, Garek, that is absolutely literary.

There are probably more. All of these are "literature" despite packaging.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:55 AM on July 9 [3 favorites]


I certainly dismissed them pretty quickly, and working in a library will expose you to the best literature (librarians know a lot and want to share that knowledge) which will turn you into an elitist snob about literature, even the genre stuff.

I don't doubt I missed a few good things when I dismissed the licensed stuff. But do you mean it is Butler/Banks/Reynolds/Atwood/Hurley/LeGuin/Leckie/Palmer good or "Star Trek TNG/DS9 tv shows" good? Do you have any compunction about calling it literature?

Literature is a word which, in the present day, is only useful for determining who not to hang out with, which, for me, is anyone who uses the word "literature" to draw arbitrary lines of worthiness through the artform of writing. As if anything except for the very best and the very worst of writing isn't mostly subjective. Or as if there isn't a lot of rubbish in what is currently canonized as "literature".

Not to mention that we're talking about sci-fi, and while I imagine it's not nearly as common as it was twenty or thirty years ago, there are still probably a lot of people out there who would argue no science-fiction qualifies as "literature." See again my comment above about who not to hang out with.
posted by Caduceus at 7:50 AM on July 9 [3 favorites]


I'm reading Angry Planet right now and really enjoying it. It's fun escapism. I feel like I've seen many of the characters elsewhere before, but I also feel like that's okay.

working in a library will expose you to the best literature (librarians know a lot and want to share that knowledge) which will turn you into an elitist snob about literature, even the genre stuff.

My spouse has been a library assistant for most of this century (newspaper editor before that) and this hasn't happened. She likes the occasional fun but light fantasy novel, especially more toward the YA end of things -- and Ms. Marvel, and a wide variety of nonfiction.
posted by Foosnark at 8:46 AM on July 9 [1 favorite]


But I will use the phrase "guilty pleasure" without feeling bad about using it.

If you enjoy living as though there's some Book Police (or Film Police, or You-Name-the-Artform Police) who determine whether something is a "valid" pleasure or something you should feel "guilty" about, have fun. I've found that letting go of the idea that I should feel guilty about enjoying a book, comic, show, movie, etc. has expanded the range of things I explore and makes life a lot more enjoyable.
posted by Lexica at 10:19 AM on July 9 [6 favorites]


I'm just generally over the notion that it's bad form to recommend anything in LGBTQ SFF unless it's on the same level as Margaret Atwood and Octavia Butler. We can have our cheese and pulp, thank you very much, and every now and then those low-budget, pulpy, indie works have some really interesting ideas in them.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 12:35 PM on July 9 [5 favorites]


Just read Small Angry Planet last month and I absolutely loved it. I recommend it wholeheartedly to any fan of sci-fi books. I almost never read multiple books in one series but I'm seriously considering it.
posted by zeusianfog at 1:34 PM on July 9 [1 favorite]


> "Plenty of licensed books have heft, and always have."

The Final Reflection, by John M. Ford.

So. Good.
posted by kyrademon at 3:33 AM on July 10


Reading Becky Chambers as a straight white guy? It didn't read as queer in any way to me until someone pointed it out. Yup, there's some stuff there. But it's not a smack-you-in-the-face focus of the book; it's absolutely normal for the characters to be doing what they're doing.

And that's the miracle of it, I think.
posted by talldean at 11:32 PM on July 11


I make a somewhat soft distinction between LGBTQ-inclusive SFF and queer SFF. We need both, but hitting something like Three Short Stories by Foz Meadows or Love Beyond Body, Space, and Time (anthology) that seriously bite into issues of heterosexism, cissexism, and what lies beyond in the same way that other authors tackle economics, imperialism, or warfare. So when Meadows writes a passage about two scholars discovering that their national hero is nonbinary:
‘Why didn’t I say anything?’... ‘Confirmation bias, Vali. I wanted to see if you’d reach the same conclusions on your own. I was worried –’ his hands clenched, trembled; stilled again, ‘– after so many years, I wondered if maybe I hadn’t been fooling myself; if wanting to see Savi as someone different, someone radical, was all just born of bitterness at my own obscurity, at… at hiding.’
I tear up just a bit because I've been in that room where it's better to leave our suspicions silent than to say, "hey, what's up with this scene, or this passage?" There's a nice conversation from earlier this year Beyond 101 at Strange Horizons which discusses a bit how writing for primarily cis audiences limits what trans writers can say in SFF.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 10:53 AM on July 12 [2 favorites]


Reading Becky Chambers as a straight white guy? It didn't read as queer in any way to me until someone pointed it out.

Not even the bits where Rosemary is frankly and forthrightly hitting on Sissix?
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 11:07 AM on July 12 [3 favorites]


Announcing a Pair of Solarpunk Novellas from Becky Chambers.
We are absolutely thrilled to be able to announce that Becky will be writing a new solarpunk novella series for Tor.com Publishing, though you’re going to have to wait a little while for them. ... The first book in Becky‘s new series will hit the shelves in 2020, with a follow-up planned for the following year.
posted by Nelson at 8:08 AM on July 18 [3 favorites]


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