It’s a sad thing to admit but there is a distinct lack of well-written sci-fi books featuring LGBT protagonists. They do exist, but they seem too often lost in a sea of romance books masquerading as sci-fi. If you are looking for romance, well then that’s all well and good, but if you really just want a true sci-fi book with all the techno-jargon, space travel, dystopian futures, and a diverse cast but without the constant angst and love scenes, you might have a difficult time finding one you like. Worse yet, you may find yourself in the midst of the swamp of clichés, the graveyard of throw-away characters, or the pit of faux diversity. Hopefully, we can alleviate some of that pain by slogging through the mediocre to bring you some true science fiction gems.
Warchild Series by Karin Lowachee
Superbly written sci-fi with a wide cast of characters, this space opera is well worth the read. Lowachee is able to craft characters you care about in a world that feels deeply developed while still remaining character-focused. The three current books delve into multiple issues, some quite dark, each from a different character’s perspective. For the most part, they are light on the romance as well, although Cagebird brings it front and center. The fourth book, The Warboy, is currently awaiting a release date.
The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin
This classic was published in 1969 as part of the Hainish Cycle. However, each book can be read as a standalone. It focuses on a human emissary to the alien planet of Winter, where the local alien species can shift their gender. For its time, it was groundbreaking. The romance is still downplayed, left to subtext for the most part but the characters are interesting, well-developed, and don’t stoop to clichés. The world building, too, is what you would expect from LeGuin. It has a wealth of details and depth, all presented from both an outsider’s point of view and from the perspective of an insider. Despite its age, we highly recommend this book.
Santa Olivia by Jacqueline Carey
The synopsis of this book can seem a little misleading, making it seem like another played-out werewolf fic. It is not, though, and more than worth a read. It’s set in a not so distant future in which the US and Mexico are in an ongoing war, resulting in a DMZ along the border of Texas and Mexico. The story takes place in the town of Santa Olivia within this demilitarized zone. The setting is a gritty, realistic dystopia, but not so much one of overt malice and oppression but rather more like neglect. The characters are all very well developed. No one feels like a two-dimensional caricature, resulting in antagonists who are sympathetic and good guys with flaws. The lesbian romance is more central in this, but very well-written with a fully developed arc complete with both emotion and action. If you like a bit of superhero flavor with your dystopian sci-fi, this is the one for you!
These are just a few we think break the mold and stand out as well-written and developed, with LGBT protagonists who are not simply clichés, throw-away, or there to fill a quota. If you know of more LGBT Sci-Fi books, we’d love to hear about them! Post your favorite in the comments and
Post your favorite in the comments and Happy Pride Month!