2019 has been a fantastic year for queer science fiction and fantasy, especially for queer women!
And to celebrate, I’m going to highlight my favorite queer SFF 2019 releases—oh who am I kidding? All of them were excellent (even the ones I rated three stars)!
Lots of time traveling, a plethora of nuns in space, and so many lesbians and bisexual women!
Have you read any of these? Are any on your TBR?
Nuuuuuuuuuuuuuuns in spaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaace! The sisters of the Our Lady of Impossible Constellations live a life of austerity and piousness aboard their living ship—and they face decision points that threaten their internal and external way of life, bringing relief to the pockets of humanity scattered about the vast black. It’s kinda biohorrory, very religious and absolutely amazing. Bonus: space whales!
“I remember a time when abortion was legal.” n a world where time-traveling Machines have always existed, two timelines are competing for dominance. In 2022, Tess and the Daughters of Harriet have been trying to correct the timeline against a secret society of misogynistic assholes determined to erode women and trans rights. In 1992, Beth and her friends are pulled into the world of riot grrls and murder in an ever escalating path. Slowly the two times begin to intersect and flow.
“I wanted one with a skull puking another, smaller skull, and other skulls flying all around. But tasteful, you know?” This is the super gay, super weird, necromantic, sword-fighting space operatic retelling of And Then There Were None that I never knew I needed in my life. Everyone should read it. I’m so very excited I was approved for the ARC of Harrow the Ninth so I can be released from that cliffhanger asap!
Ariadne and her crew of four travel four of the planets (well, one moon and three planets), orbiting Zhenyi, in the pursuit of knowledge for knowledge’s sake. They are not exploring to colonize, but for science, and are going to change themselves to fit their new environments to leave the most minimal impact possible. All is well until they suddenly receive silence from Earth. Thought provoking and queer AF.
It all begins with ruthless agent of the Agency Red finds a letter that reads, “Burn before reading.” In it, she finds a taunt, a challenge—her greatest foe has revealed herself. And off she goes in a cat and cat game of win-lose-win, sneaky subterfuge and long and short games of chance and espionage with her enemy, Blue, agent of the Garden. I fucking loved this. It kept twisting and turning so deliciously, with little seeds planted and grown throughout until the grand reveal at the end. Red vs Blue meets Spy vs Spy via time travel.
Gyre Price needs cash. She needs to get off-world. And the best way to do this is by cave-diving—and she’s found the perfect expedition. Great equipment. Decent contract. High pay-out. So what if she fudged her experience a little? She knows how to climb. She’s strong. But her support team ends up being a team of one. And that one is Em. Em, who drugs her. Who lies to her. Who manipulates her. And there’s something else. Something is in the caves with her. Do not read if you’re claustrophobic!!!
A young ambassador enamored with the massive all-encompassing enemy empire journeys from her tiny, unimportant station into the heart of that empire to discover what happened to her predecessor and stumbles into things more alien and familiar than she anticipated. I felt encapsulated, overwhelmed, barbaric and ignorant and left with a feeling of loss and wonder and like I know everything and nothing all at once. I cannot wait for A Desolation Called Peace to see where this story goes.
This is probably the best fucking military SF book I’ve ever read. And I’ve read a lot. It takes some of the basic concepts of Starship Troopers, injects with the malaise of The Forever War, warps both with capitalistic nihilism and then drops it into Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, if Mike TV was the protagonist. Go in knowing nothing more than this. Prepare to be confused, bewildered and to have your mind blown.
Haimey Dz is the captain of a small salvage tug operation. She thinks she knows what she wants. She thinks she knows who she is. But all that changes when she and her crew stumble upon a huge prize and uncover war crimes beyond what they can even imagine—and powers beyond comprehension. If you want to read more science fiction about lesbians and other queer folx in space, then this is definitely the book for you.
The planet of January is tidally locked, with one side always facing the day, the other facing the night. In the narrow band of twilight humans live in the authoritarian Xiosphant, where waking and sleeping and strictly regimented and everyone knows their place in society. Student Sophie follows her friend Bianca to a group of student revolutionaries, but Sophie’s decision to take the blame for Bianca sends both girls on a course that will change Xiosphant—and the planet itself. It’s absolutely brilliant, but needed to either be two hundred pages longer or have a sequel! It can’t end like this!
After an unfortunate injury that prevented him from serving in the military, Captain John Wyndham, feeling adrift from his religiously conservative home (and, not welcome in his father’s house), returns to the city of his university days, gets a job as an alchemist in a hospital, and finds a housemate in the form of the infamous sorceress Shaharazad Haas, who is just as brilliant as she is drug addled (if you’re wondering, she is very drug addled). A gender-swapped (well, for the sorceress) and queer as hell retelling of Sherlock Holmes, set in a complex fantasy world.
What 2019 queer SFF am I missing?