The best sci-fi and speculative stories depicting queer lives

Why am I passionate about this?

After more than 20 years of community work and activism in LGBTQ+ spaces, I couldn’t help but turn these experiences into a novel in which Berlin becomes the world’s first gay state – Proud Pink Sky, released March 14 from Amble Press. My essays and short stories focus on the strange, the queer, and the speculative, and have been published in The Sun Magazine, Guernica, Strange Horizons, PinkNews, and Nature Futures, while my campaign work for LGBTQ+ and polyamory rights has been referenced in The Mirror, Buzzfeed, and BBC News. I am also nonbinary queer, have a Ph.D. in Literature, and currently live in Berlin.


I wrote...

Book cover of Proud Pink Sky

What is my book about?

Proud Pink Sky breaks down the binary between utopia and dystopia—presenting an ambitopian vision of the world’s first gay state. A glittering metropolis of 24 million people, Berlin is a bustling world of pride parades, polyamorous trysts, and even an official gay language. Its distant radio broadcasts are a lifeline for teenagers William and Gareth, but is there a place for them in the deeply divided city? Meanwhile, young mother Cissie loves Berlin’s towering high rises and chaotic multiculturalism, yet she’s never left her heterosexual district—not until she discovers a walled-off slum of perpetual twilight, home to the city’s forbidden trans residents.

Challenging assumptions of sex and gender, Proud Pink Sky questions how much we must sacrifice to find identity and community.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of A Psalm for the Wild-Built

Redfern Jon Barrett Why did I love this book?

Though gender fluidity has been a part of Becky Chambers’s work since her debut, this nonbinary giant was especially struck by her 2021 novel, A Psalm for the Wild-Built. It’s a thoughtful, witty, meditative story set in a distant eco-utopia where gender variance is simply part of the norm, with characters naturally identifying as she, he, or they without any kind of fanfare. It may not be the most dramatic read, but seeing as we live in a world where people are killed for not conforming to a gender binary, weaving this quiet acceptance into an optimistic vision for the future truly gives me hope. Oh, and there are sentient robots. Did I mention the robots?

By Becky Chambers,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked A Psalm for the Wild-Built as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It's been centuries since the robots of Panga gained self-awareness and laid down their tools; centuries since they wandered, en masse, into the wilderness, never to be seen again; centuries since they faded into myth and urban legend.

One day, the life of a tea monk is upended by the arrival of a robot, there to honour the old promise of checking in. The robot cannot go back until the question of 'what do people need?' is answered.

But the answer to that question depends on who you ask, and how.
They're going to need to ask it a lot.


Book cover of Shadow Man

Redfern Jon Barrett Why did I love this book?

Melissa Scott takes worldbuilding to fascinating extremes in her 1995 novel, Shadow Man. Due to changes in human biology, there are five recognised sexes in Scott’s far-flung society, with man and woman joined by fem, herm, and mem – yet despite the variety in body types, the isolated and backward planet of Hara forces its residents to choose between a simple binary. With its bold depictions of gender discrimination and violence, Shadow Man is relevant to our own social battles while also indulging in a fast-paced plot and thought-provoking speculation, all while being just different enough from our own world that it scratches that escapist itch.

By Melissa Scott,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Shadow Man as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the far future, human culture has developed five distinctive genders due to the effects of a drug easing sickness from faster-than-light travel. But on the planet Hara, where society is increasingly instability, caught between hard-liner traditions and the realities of life, only male and female genders are legal, and the "odd-bodied" population are forced to pass as one or the other. Warreven Stiller, a lawyer and an intersexed person, is an advocate for those who have violated Haran taboos. When Hara regains contact with the Concord worlds, Warreven finds a larger role in breaking the long-standing role society has…


Book cover of You Sexy Thing

Redfern Jon Barrett Why did I love this book?

So far this list has explored worlds that are quietly optimistic and imaginatively dark – while You Sexy Thing by Cat Rambo is resolutely neither. Rambo’s novel is a playful and exhilarating romp through space with a diverse cast of characters, from human to intelligent apes, and its genders and sexualities are just as varied. There’s seemingly no limit to the plurality of beings populating this delightful space opera, and my absolute favourite has to be Skidoo: a connection-seeking squid-being who craves affection and empathic touch. I never thought I’d relate so hard to a cephalopod.

By Cat Rambo,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked You Sexy Thing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Farscape meets The Great British Bake Off in this fantastic space opera You Sexy Thing from former SFWA President, Cat Rambo.

Just when they thought they were out…

TwiceFar station is at the edge of the known universe, and that’s just how Niko Larson, former Admiral in the Grand Military of the Hive Mind, likes it.

Retired and finally free of the continual war of conquest, Niko and the remnants of her former unit are content to spend the rest of their days working at the restaurant they built together, The Last Chance.

But, some wars can’t ever be escaped,…


Book cover of The Offset

Redfern Jon Barrett Why did I love this book?

Presenting one of the darkest futures I’ve ever read, The Offset plunges us into a neo-medieval world ravaged by climate destruction. The debut novel of writing duo Natasha C. Calder and Emma Szewczak, The Offset is set in a sinister, depopulated London which murders people for reproducing, yet it also weaves in a strange social acceptance. As with Becky Chambers’s A Psalm for the Wild-Built, queer and nonbinary people are completely and unquestioningly accepted – yet though the latter takes place in a quiet utopia, while here we’re dealing with a dramatic dystopia. This tolerance adds depth and nuance to an otherwise bleak setting, and it’s not just relegated to the background: The central protagonists form a queer family, one threatened by the omnipresent cruelties of a decaying future.

By Calder Szewczak, Natasha C. Calder, Emma Szewczak

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Offset as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The world is dying and over populated. Professor Jac Boltanski is leading Project Salix, a ground-breaking new mission to save the world by replanting radioactive Greenland with genetically-modified willow trees. But things aren't working out and there are discrepancies in the data. Has someone intervened to sabotage her life's work?

In the meantime, her daughter Miri, an anti-natalist, has run away from home. Days before their Offset ceremony where one of her mothers must be sentenced to death, she is brought back against her will following a run-in with the law. Which parent will Miri pick to die: the one…


Book cover of The Left Hand of Darkness

Redfern Jon Barrett Why did I love this book?

Of course, any list wouldn't be complete without mentioning Le Guin. The Left Hand of Darkness is one of the most well-known works of queer speculation, and for good reason: reprinted dozens of times over the decades since it was originally published in 1969, the story centres around the ‘ambisexual’ inhabitants of Gethen, the androgynous population of a planet settled many centuries into the future. Yet it’s not just the social setting that makes The Left Hand of Darkness a compelling read, but the central relationship between the native Estraven and ambassador Ai – whose bond carries the novel’s central emotional appeal. Thought-provoking, tragic, and far ahead of its time, it’s one of the many stories that cemented Le Guin’s status as a speculative legend.

By Ursula K. Le Guin,

Why should I read it?

16 authors picked The Left Hand of Darkness as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION-WITH A NEW INTRODUCTION BY DAVID MITCHELL AND A NEW AFTERWORD BY CHARLIE JANE ANDERS

Ursula K. Le Guin's groundbreaking work of science fiction-winner of the Hugo and Nebula Awards.

A lone human ambassador is sent to the icebound planet of Winter, a world without sexual prejudice, where the inhabitants' gender is fluid. His goal is to facilitate Winter's inclusion in a growing intergalactic civilization. But to do so he must bridge the gulf between his own views and those of the strange, intriguing culture he encounters...

Embracing the aspects of psychology, society, and human emotion on an…


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Book cover of Price of Vengeance

Kurt D. Springs

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What is my book about?

Liam was orphaned at the age of two by a group of giant carnivorous insects called the chitin. Taken in by High Councilor Marcus and his wife, Lidia, Liam was raised with their older son, Randolf in New Olympia, the last remaining city on the planet Etrusci.

As an adult, Liam becomes a soldier. After being cut off from the city, Liam finds that there is an alien intelligence behind the chitin. To defeat it, he must discover who he is and how to use his powers. Then, Liam discovers that a traitor, responsible for his birth parents' deaths, had…

Price of Vengeance

By Kurt D. Springs,

What is this book about?

"From the cover to the opening pages, Price of Vengeance grabs the reader and takes them on a wild ride. Fasten your seat belts for this book." -S. J. Francis, author of Shattered Lies

What is the Price of Vengeance? One could understand why Liam was angry. He was orphaned at the age of two by a group of giant carnivorous insects called the chitin. Taken in by High Councilor Marcus and his wife, Lidia, Liam was raised with their older son, Randolf in New Olympia, the last remaining city on the planet Etrusci.

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