It Gets Better in Kansas (Queering SF #31)
As the story has it, Dan Savage and his partner Terry Miller began the “It gets better” movement in 2010 with a casual utterance of those three words. The words and sentiment were picked up by social media, and then became a global organization. The aim of the organization is to “uplift and empower” LGBTQ youth who might be struggling with coming to terms with their sexuality, with coming out, and with acceptance. The science fiction story “Ad astra per aspera” can be read as a fictional account of “It gets better.”
Asexual Self-Love (Queering SF #30)
“I bought you mail order
My plain wrapper baby
Your skin is like vinyl
The perfect companion” (Bryan Ferry)
Sex dolls are not new. Roxy Music sang of the mind-blowing pleasures of a blow-up sex doll in “In Every Dream Home a Heartache” (1973). In 1996, Abyss Creations began offering RealDoll sex dolls, which feature life-like, customize-able dolls that do not require inflation. Anna Kendrick stars in Dummy (2020), a delightful comedy in which she steals her boyfriend’s sex doll. They take a road trip, talk about personal and professional matters, but have no sex…
The Heretic Has Left the Building (Queering SF #29)
The Canadian Ada Hoffman (she/her) is an adjunct professor of Computer Science. Hoffman was diagnosed with Aspergers when she was 13 and is a dedicated autism advocate. Indeed, she has hosted the online Autistic Book Party since 2012(ish). Her short story “Minor Heresies” appeared in a collected called Ride the Star Wind, a collection of Lovecraft-inspired pieces, edited by C. Dombrowski and Scott Gable. The story was then collected in Transcendent 3 (ed., Bogi Takács [e/em/eir]).
In a far future, (some) humans have been melded with alien “filigree.” Initially designed and…
It’s My Body, and I’ll Try If I Want To…. (Queering SF #1)
(This essay was slated to appear in another Medium publication in September, 2019 as the first in the Queering SF series.)
For the Fall 2019 semester, I am teaching an upper-division undergraduate course called Queering Science Fiction. The course is nearly full, though I learned that they signed up not because of the topic, but because of the gen. ed. requirement that it fulfills. But that’s just as well. New faces, new ideas.
We initially spent some time working on definitions. Science fiction, whatever that is. Queer…
From the Space of Compassion (Queering SF #28)
“Destroy. That’s the brief of this issue. Destroy science fiction. Why? Because disabled people have been discarded from the narrative, cured, rejected, villainized. We’ve been given few options for our imaginations to run wild within the parameters of an endless sky. This issue destroys those narratives and more.” (Elsa Sjunneson and Dominik Parisien)
Beginning in June 2014, Lightspeed Magazine published special issues dedicated to the proposition of “destroying” genre fiction. They published Women Destroy Science Fiction in 2014, followed by Queers Destroy Science Fiction in June 2015, and People of Colour Destroy…
How Many Is Too Few? (Queering SF #27)
In 2014, Facebook worked in collaboration with some LGBTQ+ advocates and came up with a new set of gender options for Facebook users to select from. At that time, they offered 54 options. By 2021, that number had increased to 71 options. Similarly, the dating site OK Cupid increased options for would-be daters. They can select from 22 gender options and 13 sexual orientations. And yet, for both of these companies, they find that users just don’t feel as thought they have enough options. They find that their identity is not represented.
The Heat Death of the Individual (Queering SF #26)
In 1967, Pamela Zoline published a short story in New Worlds entitled “The Heat Death of the Universe.” The story caused a bit of a furor because it didn’t seem quite like anything SF readers had read before. Why was this being published in a science fiction magazine? What were Zoline and editor Michael Moorcock doing? The story relates the events of one day in the life of Sarah Boyle, a housewife who is planning a birthday party. She feels as though her own identity has been subsumed into her functions…
Trans Time Travel (Queering SF #25)
“Time travel fictions present special problems because they play with foundational things like time, causation, and the personal identity and free will of the time traveler—and it is not at all clear what any of these things are like in the real world.” (John Bigelow)
“The future feels lighter than the past. I think I know why you chose it over me, Mama.” (Nino Cipri)
Who among us has not wanted to take a trip in time? Who has not wanted the opportunity to go back and have another chance? To fix a personal…
Queer Family in Ohio (Queering SF #24)
In previous essays, I have written a lot about Ohio. Mostly about some messed up events and legislative matters. This time, we’re looking at a Queer SF story set in northwest Ohio.
Brendan Williams-Childs’s (he/him) personal webpage says he was born in Wyoming and studies in Kansas. He has said in an interview that he had a grandmother who lived in Ohio. His webpage also says that he has published ten stories, though only three of those appear on the Internet Science Fiction Database.
Karel Čapek, Robots, and Queer Family (Queering SF #23)
“You still stand watch, O human star, burning without a flicker, perfect flame, bright and resourceful spirit.”
In 1920, the Czech writer Karel Čapek (he/him) wrote R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots). In the play, he used the Czech word “robota” to describe the beings created to work in the factories. Robota means “worker” or “slave,” but has since come to signify an artificial being. The factory creates these robota, which are synthetic beings from organic material. So, they were not metallic or mechanical beings, but made of artificial flesh and blood. These…