Archipelacon SF/F Reading Lists

During Archipelacon, several diverse SF/F titles were discussed at both the Diversity in YA and QUILTBAG in SF/F panel. Below is a list of books from Cheryl Morgan, Dirk Weger, and me. Please note, some of these books we have read and can personally recommend while others are titles on our radar which we are hearing good things about. All opinions are entirely our own and may differ radically from yours. That’s great! Please let us know your thoughts and feel free to recommend more titles so we can grow our list.

We are specifically interested in queer/questioning, undecided, intersex, lesbian, trans, bi, asexual, and gay characters in SF/F as well as characters of colour, with mental illness, physical disabilities, and/or minority ethnic or religious identity. Here we go…

QUILTBAG Reading List as per the LGBT panel at Archipelacon 2015

Dirk’s Lists

Herald Mage trilogy by Mercedes Lackey
Karen Lord’s The Best of All Possible Worlds

Cheryl’s Lists
*Cheryl’s original list contains links to her reviews but for some reason the links didn’t work on my blog so please visit Cheryl’s original list HERE for reviews!

Single books

This list is by no means exhaustive. It simply includes books I have read and liked (in no particular order, and limited to one per writer).

Was – Geoff Ryman
Swordspoint – Ellen Kushner
Slow River – Nicola Griffith
China Mountain Zhang – Maureen McHugh
Shadow Man – Melissa Scott
The New Moon’s Arms – Nalo Hopkinson
The Drowning Girl – Caitlín R Kiernan
Vellum/Ink – Hal Duncan
The Forever War – Joe Haldeman *
The Passion of New Eve – Angela Carter
Dangerous Space – Kelley Eskridge
Brasyl – Ian McDonald
The Summer Prince – Alaya Dawn Johnson
Beyond Binary – Brit Mandelo (ed.)
Triton – Samuel R Delany
Palimpsest – Catherynne M Valente
The Courier’s New Bicycle – Kim Westwood
Ash – Malinda Lo
2312– Kim Stanley Robinson
Diana Comet & Other Improbable Stories – Sandra McDonald
The Black Opera – Mary Gentle
Eon – Alison Goodman

* For the benefit of those of you whose eyebrows have shot up, The Forever War contains one section in which the troops return home to discover that same-sex relationships have become the norm on Earth and heterosexuality is frowned upon. Joe is, of course, simply reflecting the unease felt by Vietnam veterans returning home to find the USA full of Hippies, but I include the book here to make the point that things like this could happen in a book in 1976, and the book could still win a Hugo.


Again these are all books I have read, though in the case of series possibly not all of them.

The Outremer series – Chaz Brenchley
The Orokon Saga – Tom Arden
The AngeLINK series – Lyda Morehouse
The Wraethtru books – Storm Constantine
The Element Logic series – Laurie J Marks
The Jacob’s Ladder Trilogy – Elizabeth Bear
Rhapsody of Blood – Roz Kaveney
Chaos Walking – Patrick Ness
The Siobhan Quinn books – Caitlín R. Kiernan
The Engelsfors Trilogy – Sara B Elfgren & Mats Strandberg

Dodgy Trans Books

These are all books that you will see held up by cis people as great books about trans characters, but which have some highly problematic elements.

The Female Man, Joanna Russ – basically TERF** propaganda, for which Russ has since apologized.
Ilario, Mary Gentle – great on intersex, but essentially contrasts “valid” intersex identities with “invalid” trans identities.
Pantomime, Laura Lam – shock reveal and use of circus freak symbolism.
Steel Beach, John Varley – bizarre and hilarious, nothing like actual trans people.
The Bone Palace, Amanda Downum – shock reveal and mired in trans community politics it doesn’t seem to understand.
I Will Fear No Evil, Robert A Heinlein – basically transvestite porn.
Friday, Robert A Heinlein – OK on trans, but awful in just about every other way.
A Civil Campaign, Lois McMaster Bujold – transition for political gain with no understanding of personal issues.
I got asked during the panel what I thought authors should do to treat trans characters respectfully. What I said amounted to the following:
1. Treat the character with the same respect you’d give any other character;
2. Don’t use any shock revelations in the narrative, as this plays into the narrative that trans people are somehow deceitful;
3. Try not to use transition narratives — there is so much more to trans people’s lives than their transition;
4. Try to get an understanding of the breadth of different identities encompassed by the term trans, and do not confuse different identities in one character; and
5. Don’t use the story to privilege one type of trans people over other types.

** Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists. The Female Man uses the TERF idea that trans women are a creation of the patriarchy intended to replace “real” women once those “real” women have become emancipated and no longer wish to associate with men. This includes the idea that “real” women are not naturally feminine, but two out of every seven men are naturally feminine.

Books with major characters who are L/G/B

Elysium – Jennifer Marie Brissett

Books with minor characters who are L/G/B

Wylding Hall – Elizabeth Hand
Glorious Angels – Justina Robson
The Area X Trilogy – Jeff VanderMeer

Books with minor characters who are T

Karen Memory – Elizabeth Bear (slightly dodgy)
The Galaxy Game – Karen Lord
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown – Holly Black
Elysium – Jennifer Marie Brissett (very dodgy)
Shadowboxer – Tricia Sullivan
Mirror Empire – Kameron Hurley
Gideon Smith and the Mask of the Ripper – David Barnett (not yet published)
Who Killed Sherlock Holmes – Paul Cornell (not yet published)
Utopia – Cory Doctorow (not yet published)

Books with major characters who are T

Rhapsody of Blood: Resurrections – Roz Kaveney

Books that redefine gender

Ancillary Justice & Ancillary Sword – Ann Leckie
Distress – Greg Egan
Diaspora – Greg Egan
Shadow Scale – Rachel Hartman

Interesting re-releases from Wizard’s Tower

Resurrection Code – Lyda Morehouse (major T character)
Damage Time – Colin Harvey (major I character)

Anthologies with some LGBT content

Kaleidoscope – Alisia Krasnostein & Julia Rios
Long Hidden – Daniel Jose Older & Rose Fox

Comics with major LGBT characters

All New X-Men – Michael Bendis
Angela, Asgard’s Assassin – Kieron Gillen
The Wicked & The Divine – Kieron Gillen


The following authors of speculative fiction all identify somewhere on the LGBT spectrum. Apologies to those whom I have omitted. There are of course many more, but all of these are people whose work I have read, and whom I know are openly out.

Geoff Ryman
Nicola Griffith
Samuel R Delany
Ellen Kushner
Kelley Eskridge
Delia Sherman
Chris Barzack
Caitlín R Kiernan
Roz Kaveney
Chaz Brenchley
Melissa Scott
Tom Arden
Lyda Morehouse
Laurie J Marks
Ellen Klages
Patrick Ness
Rick Bowes
Malinda Lo
Severna Park
Catherynne M. Valente
Hal Duncan
Charlie Jane Anders
Nalo Hopkinson
Joanna Russ
James Tiptree Jr.
Elizabeth Bear
Steve Berman
Catherine Lundoff
Candas Jane Dorsey
Elizabeth A Lynn
Tanya Huff
Jessica Amanda Salmonson
Billy Martin (formerly Poppy Z. Brite)
David Gerrold
Thomas M. Disch
Lawrence Schimel
Kij Johnson
Sophia MacDougall
Maria Davana Headley
Tove Jansson
Oscar Wilde
Frank M. Robinson
Octavia Butler
Katherine V. Forrest

Suzanne’s Lists

Books I’ve read featuring LGBT+ characters or themes:

Hobverse Series by Cat Hellisen (When the Sea is Rising Red, House of Sand and Secrets)
Coda by Emma Trevayne (I’ve only read book 1 in this series)
Proxy by Alex London (I’ve only read book 1 in this series)
The Sandman graphic novel series by Neil Gaiman (various LGBT+ characters)
Skulk by Rosie Best (I’ve only read book 1 in this series)
The Adorned by John Tristan
The Cloud Roads by Martha Wells (I’ve only read book 1 in this series)
The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater (that one of the major characters is gay only becomes apparent in book 2, The Dream Thieves – also shows socio-economic diversity)
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
Lost Souls and Drawing Blood by Poppy Z. Brite
Dust by Elizabeth Bear (I’ve only read book 1 in this series)
The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice (various LGBT+ characters)
Fledgling by Octavia E. Butler (polyamory, possible pansexuality)
The Chaos by Nalo Hopkinson (Lesbian/Bisexual minor character, some discussion of LGBT+ issues + PoC and disabled characters)
Love is the Drug by Alaya Dawn Johnson (LG supporting characters, PoC)
The Black Dagger Brotherhood series by JR Ward – (skip ahead to book 11 😉 )
Adaptation by Malinda Lo (only read book 1 in the series)
Love in the Time of Global Warming by Francesca Lia Block (features a queer cast of main characters incl. trans character)

Books with questionable LGBT+ content:

Embassytown by China Miéville
The Burning Sky (Elemental trilogy) by Sherry Thomas (cross-dressing character)
The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey (gay supporting characters)

Books I haven’t read yet, but have heard good things about:

Otherbound by Corinne Duyvis
Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore (book 3 of the Graceling series)
Huntress by Malinda Lo
Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith
Witch Eyes by Scott Tracey
Every Day by David Levithan
Archangel Academy series by Michael Griffo
The Engelsfors Trilogy by Sara B. Elfgren and Mats Strandberg

‘Diverse’ SF/F Reads as per my YA Diversity talk at Archipelacon and SweCon

Cinder series by Marissa Meyer
The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco
Un Lun Dun by China Mieville
Ship Breaker series by Paolo Bacigalupi (loved this, especially book 2 – suited for more mature YA readers)
Gilded by Christina Farley (questionable representation of Korean protagonist)
This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers
Tabula Rasa by Kristin Lippert-Martin
Icons by Margaret Stohl
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
City of a Thousand Dolls series by Miriam Forster
Zeroboxer by Fonda Lee
The Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan (starts more MG but ages up with protagonist)
Nobody’s Goddess series by Amy McNulty
Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older
Ink and Ashes by Valynne E. Maetani

TV series

Sense8 (excellent trans representation – questionable racial/ethnic representation due to stereotyping)
Penny Dreadful (problematic trans rep but features at least two bisexual main characters)
Sleepy Hollow (PoC lead roles)
Teen Wolf (LGBT rep)
Dark Matter (PoC lead roles)
Starcrossed (PoC main roles, bi/pansexual alien species, interesting views on issues of immigration/assimilation/multiculturalism etc.)
Agents of SHIELD (PoC main roles)
Dark Matter (PoC lead roles, some stereotyping)

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