Queer SFF Books! ๐ŸŒˆ๐Ÿš€

Bibliophiles of the internet,
my name’s Adriana Bibliophiles of the internet,
my name’s Adriana and today I’m here to recommend
some #ownvoices queer SFF books. This video was inspired by a
newly released book called “Demon in the Whitelands”
by Nikki Z. Richard. The publisher, Month9Books,
generously sent me a copy for review, so I’m gonna talk a bit
about the book and why it fits nicely into this topic. “Demon in the Whitelands” is an
#ownvoices queer fantasy/dystopian story about Samuel, whose father is
a devout cleric and has raised Samuel on the wrath of god and feelings
of inherent shame and guilt. Samuel himself doesn’t want to become
a cleric, and he finds a way out when the town’s mayor claims to have
captured a violent demon, and he needs a new patrol officer
to maintain watch over her cell on a daily basis. Desperate for a change, Samuel
takes the job, and he becomes fascinated with this intelligent,
artistic, genderless creature who doesn’t seem all that
dangerous on the surface. Now this book does contain triggers
for gore; violence; descriptions of graphic injury, hunting,
and medical procedures; mentions of physical abuse, brief
discussions of attempted sexual assault; and the branding of
human flesh. But this story also has representation
for a character who is non-binary, an amputee, and mute as well
as a main character who is queer, so there’s that. It’s hard for me to outright recommend
this book, since its main selling point is that it is so twisted
and dark. The story takes place in a small town
populated by characters who are uncertain of their futures and afraid of anything
remotely resembling a threat. That is what makes Samuel and his
father stand out as religious figures and Samuel himself stand out
as queer young man. At its heart, I think it’s a story
about being different and how our instinct is to *fear* those who
are different instead of learning how to understand and value
that difference. The world in this story is built on acts
of violence, and run by people who want to do other people harm, and
it’s really interesting to see how someone as soft-hearted as
Samuel navigates that world and learns how to evolve
within it. And I also found the relationship
between Samuel and this demon to be very tender and intimate
without leaning towards the romantic. That said, I did want a bit more
from the relationships in this story, and also from the world-building
itself, and there was some iffy power dynamic stuff I thought could
have been addressed even further. But even so, I was still fully invested
in this story every time I picked it up. If you’re interested in supporting
fantasy stories with enby characters, disabled characters, and queer
characters, especially stories written by trans authors, then this is
definitely an option for you if you’d like. The publisher is also doing a
giveaway for “Demon in the Whitelands.” So that link will be down below, and
if you would like to win a free copy of a dark queer fantasy story,
then you give that a look. Moving on, the next #ownvoices
queer SFF story that absolutely had to be on this list is “The Disasters”
by M.K. England. This is one of my absolute favorite
things I read for the Queer Lit Readathon. M.K. England is a non-binary author
and this is their debut, rip-roaring sci-fi romp about Nax, who’s always
dreamed of becoming a pilot. But once he finally gets into this
elite space academy, he’s kicked out before classes even start. And it just so happens that as he
and the other washouts are boarding the spaceship back home, the station
is attacked by intergalactic terrorists, and now Nax and his fellow
dropouts are the only witnesses *and* the perfect scapegoats. You need this in your life if you
enjoy: flirtatious queer banter, A+ banter and humor all around,
stories about found family, awesome action sequences,
and an incredible diverse cast. This story has a bisexual Iranian pro-
tagonist, a Black British love interest, a crewmate with anxiety and
panic attacks, a hijabi hacker, and a trans Kazakhstani badass
who literally kicks ass. I think my favorite thing about
this story is that it’s about finding value in skills and people that have
been *devalued* at every stage, because these crew members were
kicked out of the academy for not fitting the standard
in some way. But that doesn’t mean they can’t
pilot a ship, work together, learn to trust themselves, and
save the fuckin’ world, right? The next book I wanna mention
should not be a surprise, and that is “Peter Darling” by the
one and only Austin Chant. This is an #ownvoices queer and
trans retelling of Peter Pan, where Peter was raised as Wendy. But
when he finally escapes to Neverland, that’s where he is able to become
his truest, most authentic self. But this story takes place after
Peter goes back home and tries to live how his family wants, and when he
realizes that he cannot be that person, he returns to Neverland having grown
up somewhat, and now the Neverland he’s always known is
quite different. I do have a 5 Reasons to Read video
for this book where I just deep dive and gush about how important this
story is for trans folks and how it explores that trans people can just
exist without owing anyone anything, and I think you should
*definitely* check that out. But I love that this story explores
toxic masculinity, especially through a trans lens, and how safe spaces
are no longer safe if they don’t allow you to evolve and express
yourself in a way that’s authentic. It’s also a tender and beautifully
written romance, and I love how Austin Chant plays with this truly
unique, fantastical setting and how they use that setting to challenge
the characters and their relationships. This story, like all of Austin Chant’s
stories, displays the kind of fulfilling, empowering, transformative love that
trans folks and queer folks deserve, and you should absolutely read it
because of that alone, if nothing else. Now if you, like me, love Austin
Chant and you’ve read all their work, then you need to get excited about
“Our Bloody Pearl” by D.N. Bryn. This is an #ownvoices enby fantasy story
with sirens and pirates and soft love. Just let that combination of
words sink in for a moment. It’s about a non-binary siren who’s
been captured by a ruthless pirate, and just when they’re giving up
hope of returning to the sea, another captain captures the ship
that serves as this siren’s prison, but he is kind, gentle,
and empathetic. Turns out when this siren was captured,
their original captor paralyzed them from the waist down, making
it impossible for them to safely navigate the ocean as is. So this new captain helps nurse
the siren back to health, set them up with a mobility aid, and the
two of them also devise a kind of sign language together in
order to communicate. As I said, this book is soft as fuck, and
the dynamic between the protagonist and this new captain is crafted with
such care, in a way that’s *so* deliberate, and I love how the captain does a
lot of work to undo and correct the power imbalance. And because these two characters
adopt a kind of sign language mixed with their own respective languages,
there’s a really beautiful sense of connection and cultural exchange. I think it’s also important to distinguish
that this main character doesn’t self ID as enby on the page, but rather that
it’s implied because sirens don’t have gender the way humans do, and
they change reproductive organs depending on what the pod needs.
So they don’t even recognize “man” and “woman” as viable
identities. However, identifying outside of
“man” and “woman” is the textbook definition of non-binary, and
the author is enby themeself. So as far as representation goes,
I still think it’s super valid and important. So not only is the protagonist gender
non-conforming, but they’re also aromantic and disabled and experience
PTSD. There’s a side f/f relationship where one of the characters is trans,
the love interest is pointedly non-white, and the characters use
sign language, which is all great. This book makes me feel so much
and I think it accomplishes so much when exploring this close, quiet
intimate relationship, and I strongly feel that as many people
as possible need to read this book. Next up, I wanna mention an
author in general, because you can’t go wrong with anything they write
and you *know* it’s gonna be queer af, and that is Yoon Ha Lee. Yoon Ha Lee is a Korean-American
trans author, and their “Ninefox Gambit” series—full offense to the
haters—is chef’s kiss. That one is about this disgraced
captain, Kel Cheris, who is being punished for using unconventional
tactics in the war against the heretics. So to save her career, she is forced
to take on the undead soul of this master tactician known
as Shuos Jedao. However, Jedao was executed in
the first place because he massacred his own army.
So that’s…not great. “Ninefox” especially is such a
thoughtful commentary on transness while not being *about* transness,
because you have this character who identifies one way, and when she
sees her reflection or her shadow, she sees someone else. And queerness in all its forms is
always effortlessly woven into all of Yoon Ha Lee’s stories, in a way
that acknowledges and celebrates queerness while not necessarily
centering queerness. And they always, always, always
incorporate gender neutral pronouns and build many different genders
into their universes. It’s just brilliant. They have such a fundamental
understanding about how interpersonal politics and the ever-changing
nature of humanity affects the world at large—and you will see that
in every single one of their books. And lastly, even though it may
not be confirmed #ownvoices, it doesn’t even matter, because
I could not make this video without talking about the criminally underrated
“The Abyss Surrounds Us” duology by Emily Skrutskie. It’s about a badass queer Asian
girl named Cassandra who lives in a world where these genetically
modified sea monsters known as Reckoners have been created by
the government to protect cargo ships and passenger ships as they pass
through the pirate-infested waters of the Neo-Pacific. Cassandra is a Reckoner trainer-
in-training, which means she will one day be one of the few people
who can control these sea monsters. But during her first solo mission,
the ship is captured by pirates and Cassandra is kidnapped and
forced to join the pirate crew to train an unhatched Reckoner pup
for reasons she cannot begin to guess. I have so much love for this duology
because it’s exciting, it’s action-packed, it has a great slow burn enemies-
to-lovers romance and you really get to see Cassandra’s understanding
of the world shift as she starts to think about why the government
created these creatures and who they’re *really* trying to protect. It’s a great rumination on privilage and
how, as always, it’s the people in power who get to control the narrative and
decide who are the “good guys” and who are the “bad guys,” and
who gets all the resources. And once Cassandra becomes part
of this culture that is, by definition, outside of society, things start to
make a different kind of sense. It’s really fascinating to see Cas
grapple with who she is and what her future might look like if
she throws her lot in with these pirates and betrays the person her family
and this world has intended her to be. Plus, I just think it’s really cool and
gives me all the queer Pacific Rim type vibes and I definitely
recommend it. Now I do want to point out that
this was never intended to be a definitive nor exhaustive list. There’s a lot of honorable mentions
when it comes to queer SFF, like “The Long Way to a
Small Angry Planet,” “The True Queen” by Zen Cho, “Wilder Girls” by Rory Power, “In Other Lands”
by Sarah Rees Brennan, “On a Sunbeam”
by Tillie Walden, “An Unkindness of Ghosts”
by Rivers Solomon, the Sidekick Squad series
by C.B. Lee, “Swordspoint”
by Ellen Kushner, among many, many
other books. For fans of new releases, there’s
also stuff like “Gideon the Ninth” by Tamsyn Muir, and “The Grief
Keeper” by Alexandra Villasante— —which I recently read for the
Latinx-a-thon and really enjoyed. So there’s definitely a
lot of choice. So get out there, read widely,
educate yourself, and in the comments below, feel free to mention any
other queer SFF books that you think everyone should read
at least once. But that’s everything I had
to recommend today. Thank you so much for
watching this video. I really hope that
you enjoyed it, and I’ll catch YOU on
the flip-side of the page. Bye! [♫ “You Only Live Once”
(Instrumental) by w.hatano ♫]

27 thoughts on “Queer SFF Books! ๐ŸŒˆ๐Ÿš€

  1. Enter the giveaway from Month9Books here!

    (Also, small amendment: the giveaway is for a $10 Amazon gift card AND any free ebook from Month9Books. Good luck!)

  2. Great video as always I had some of these in my tbr already. Peter darling has been on my list since I first found your channel.

    Bloody pearl I added when I saw you were reading it on goodreads. I added it because that beautiful cover.

  3. YASSSS OUR BLOODY PEARL. I honestly think this is gonna be the next Indie Booktube Darling.

    Would also like to throw out INTO THE DROWNING DEEP by Mira Grant for sci-fi. Queer ladies on a ship, kind of enemies-to-lovers (one-sided viewpoint), an autistic queer lady POV, and killer mermaids! For fantasy, I'm gonna say THE LOST COAST by Amy Rose Capetta! It's more on the urban fantasy/paranormal side, but basically all of the characters in the central witch coven are queer (I can think of bi, ace, and enby rep on page). Great video as always!!

  4. Like… I feel like I should read ninefox gambit but Iโ€™m afraid Iโ€™m not smart enough ๐Ÿ™ˆ๐Ÿ™ˆ a queer fantasy book I really love is An accident of stars by Foz Meadows, itโ€™s got lots of bi rep, aro rep, and some side trans rep that I enjoyed. Donโ€™t know if it is ownvoices but the author is genderqueer.

  5. Loved this video! Added so many things to my goodreads tbr! I havenโ€™t read any others that I can think of, but Iโ€™m subscribed to Jean Bookishthoughts and she often will recommend great f/f fantasy, I am on the hunt for The Tales of Inthya series by Effie Calvin and the Elianaโ€™s Song duology by Naomi Kritzer, all of which Jean seems to love. I also know that queerness, while not in the main story, is treated as normal/a non-issue in the Ash Princess series, and they address (womenโ€™s/afab) virginity being a social construct, briefly, which I really appreciated. Now that I think of it, I have read Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan, but hasnโ€™t everyone? ๐Ÿ˜‚ I have lots and lots of queer SFF fiction on my tbr, just need to get it read! ๐Ÿ˜†

  6. For any who have SCRIBD, Demon in the Whitelands is available. I added Our Bloody Pearl to my TBR, and it is also on SCRIBD. Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee is already on my TBR, but I will also add Ninefox Gambit. Thank you so much for all these recs, I needed some more queer books.๐Ÿ’–๐Ÿ’–๐Ÿ’–

  7. So instead of synopses, authors just need to hire you to do brief video synopses because I have read the synopsis for Peter Darling multiple times and haven't been gravitated to it but listening to you speak about it has me majorly excited.

  8. I was already excited for OUR BLOODY PEARL but your description made me go even more heart eyes over it!

    I'm currently reading Ardulum: First Don by J.S. Fields and it's v sci-fi with nonbinary genders scattered through out and apparently theres also an f/f relationship but i havent gotten to that point yet.

  9. the disasters and our bloody pearl sound freaking fantastic. i need to finally read ninefox gambit. just yes to all of these stories.

  10. "soft as fuck" well… that would explain why Brody suggested Our Blood Pearl as a Hufflepuff read LOL ๐Ÿ˜‰

  11. Okay so I recently came across a two spirit Cherokee author writing SFF. I'll just pass his stuff along: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10252827-the-way-of-thorn-and-thunder

  12. This also works as a great recommendation video for Space Opera September. This video is excellence, as usual. ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Hi! I think Yoon Ha Lee uses he/him pronouns, as opposed to they/them.

    I have some recommendations myself. The Lost Coast by Amy Rose Capetta was written by a nonbinary author (who uses she/her pronouns as of this writing, but she says on her site that it may change) and is about a diverse group of LGBT witches who are searching for their friend.

  14. This would be awesome as a recurring series! A few more great queer SFF authors to check out if you haven't already are Kai Ashante Wilson and JY Yang.

  15. Not saying you should read this but I wanna shout out Nino Cipri's forthcoming (October 15) shirt story collection. They are a queer nonbinary author whose stories center on queer characters. Most of the stories are SFF and weird.

  16. Oh. My God. Our bloody pearl sounds amazing and I need it now. The fact there is sign language involved makes me so freaking happy – I love reading that represented in books whether its deaf or HoH characters or just used as a form of communication.
    Also The Abyss Surrounds Us has been on my TBR forever and this is the kick in the butt I need to finally loan it from my library. Enemies to lovers romance is my shit.

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