The best science fiction books featuring queer characters

Who am I?

I’m a queer speculative fiction writer who gets giddy whenever I read about space and spaceships, aliens, and advanced technology. I get even more of a rush when I discover queer representation tucked around the tech. Why? Because queer people deserve positive representation in literature—everyone should see themselves in creative works. As a reader, I read and shout about as many queer books as I can; as a writer, I infuse my works with as many queer characters I can. 

I wrote...

Finding Hekate

By Kellie Doherty,

Book cover of Finding Hekate

What is my book about?

Mia Foley is running away from the attack that changed her life. She’s captain of a new spaceship when the Acedians find her and try blasting her peaceful crew from the black. She must sever her bonds in order to run, again. But she’s grown fond of this crew, particularly Cassidy Gates. Staying with them will jeopardize their safety, and they have much closer fears than the Acedian hunters. Mia’s time is running out. She’s becoming one of them. Finding Hekate is an adult science fiction novel, featuring a ramshackle crew, lots of action and adventure, and a dash of romance.

The books I picked & why

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The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet

By Becky Chambers,

Book cover of The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet

Why this book?

Chamber’s A Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet is a quiet slice-of-life kind of story following the journey of Rosemary—the main human character—as she tries to fit in and find her place within her alien crew. I really fell in love with Rosemary’s curiosity about her crewmates, and how that translated beautifully into the quiet character-building moments Chambers weaves into the story overall. It’s a lovely queer story where no one is treated any differently for being queer and that resonated with me. The story is also truly compelling—I literally gasped out loud when I got to the midpoint.

The Space Between Worlds

By Micaiah Johnson,

Book cover of The Space Between Worlds

Why this book?

The Space Between Worlds is such a thrilling read—it’s got the perfect meld of the hard-hitting science questions and just the right touch of spiritualty. Johnson deals with the multiverse paradox in such an intriguing way that I was blown away with each chapter. Her characters are fabulous as well—just the right amount of attitude and wonder and snark. Johnson’s characters are queer but that’s not the crux of the story, it’s just who they are, and that quiet representation really drew me in. Her characters make mistakes—make the wrong choices—suffer the consequences—own up to them and learn from them…and they also happen to be queer. I love, love, love representation like that.

Gideon the Ninth

By Tamsin Muir,

Book cover of Gideon the Ninth

Why this book?

Snark. I mean it! Gideon is just so…snarky! And while originally Muir’s heavy lean into that sarcastic bite turned me off of Gideon for a few chapters, I really got into it when the story picked up and the necromancy aspect turned out to be pretty damn cool. The voices Muir infused into the story grabbed me by the throat and kept me pinned to the page, quite literally. (Did I mention the snark??) As with all the other books I’m recommending today, the lesbian aspect was a part of the book—a big part, I’d say actually, the clashing romance was super cute—but it was just one facet of the characters and not their whole being. I’m honestly shocked that this is one of my top sci-fi books because I was so against Muir’s main character in the beginning, but her grating attitude pulled me in.

The Left Hand of Darkness

By Ursula K. Le Guin,

Book cover of The Left Hand of Darkness

Why this book?

This story is a masterclass in worldbuilding, it has an intricate plot, it’s science fiction that also talks about hate and fear and the differences in culture, and oh yeah, it features a whole entire gender-fluid species. The book is both about gender and not about gender, and the main character of Genly goes through a period of self-reflection and realizing his shortcomings. If you haven’t read it, you should. It’s Ursula K. Le Guin, what more do I need to say?

Winter's Orbit

By Everina Maxwell,

Book cover of Winter's Orbit

Why this book?

Winter’s Orbit has one of the sweetest romances I’ve read thus far. The characters have trauma to work through and they do so beautifully. I love how broken Jainan is and how he discovers he’s worthy of love. The push and pull between him and Kiem was masterful! Raw. Compelling. And it’s set against a backdrop of a galactic-level political mystery! (But honestly, I read it for the romance.)

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