Overview of a recent debate/discussion over representation of QUILTBAG teens in YA dystopian fiction, along with a list of recommended novels.
Bizarre, Jasper, I was literally just about to ask if you’d seen this link!
[image description: the cover of Ash by Malinda Lo. It is a gorgeous illustration of a person—presumably the female protagonist—with light skin and brown hair in a white skirt and black corset (?) walking barefoot through ferns in a forest. She is holding her shoes behind her and facing backwards, walking through the forest. End description.]
In the wake of her father’s death, Ash is left at the mercy of her cruel stepmother. Consumed with grief, her only joy comes by the light of the dying hearth fire, re-reading the fairy tales her mother once told her. In her dreams, someday the fairies will steal her away, as they are said to do. When she meets the dark and dangerous fairy Sidhean, she believes that her wish may be granted.
The day that Ash meets Kaisa, the King’s Huntress, her heart begins to change. Instead of chasing fairies, Ash learns to hunt with Kaisa. Though their friendship is as delicate as a new bloom, it reawakens Ash’s capacity for love—and her desire to live. But Sidhean has already claimed Ash for his own, and she must make a choice between fairy tale dreams and true love.
Entrancing, empowering, and romantic, Ash is about the connection between life and love, and solitude and death, where transformation can come from even the deepest grief.
By Malinda Lo.
This book is pretty good. (The Huntress is super awesome.) I recommend it! If your local library is decent (read: not anti-gay or very conservative), you can find it in the YA fiction section.
So I started typing out a bunch of recs for icollectsmalllamas, but at some point it became insanely goddamn long so I figured I’ll just stick it up here instead. All of these are, in case the title didn’t give it away, about lesbians! Okay, here we go.
Octave - slice of life, drama. It’s finished and about 40 chapters long, and one of the most mature manga series I’ve read. When you think of lesbian drama in manga you usually (if you’re me, at least) picture weepy googly-eyed teenaged girls going “BUT WE’RE BOTH GIRLS!!!” but this is basically the entire opposite of it. It focuses on two adults and the relationship that forms between them and the way they grow as people together and individually, and it is really well written and poignant and generally DAMN GOOD. The characters are very realistic and relatable and it’s basically one of two manga series I’ve ever seen deal with sexuality in a mature, realistic manner. So if you haven’t read it all yet you probably should.
Manga no Tsukurikata - slice of life, lighthearted shenanigans. This isn’t the deepest series out there, but it is fun and adorable and I like it a lot. About two loser manga artists who are dating and are also losers. There isn’t much in the way of a plot here, but I never actually found it boring — it’s very entertaining, and the characters are totally precious.
Love My Life - slice of life, coming of age/drama. A single-volume manga that I admittedly haven’t read in a long while, but it left a pretty hugely awesome impression on me. Hands-down the most realistic manga I’ve read, it deals with sexuality and growing up and relationships in the most beautiful, mature way, and basically every manga ever should be exactly like this??
Honey&Honey - gag, slice of life. Mostly four-panel comics, detailing the real-life adventures of the artist and her girlfriend. Other than being charming and incredibly funny, it’s also actually really fascinating, because it gives you real insight into the way LGBT society functions in Japan, and teaches you a lot about their culture and the like. For example, I learned off of it that lesbians in Japan marry by having one of the women’s parents adopt the other, haha. But yeah, it is definitely worth a read!
Husky and Medley - slice of life, based on the apparently true story that was relayed to the virtual masses over 2chan, about two highschool girls and the relationship that forms between them. While the idea isn’t exactly unique, it’s just… incredibly well done. It will fill your soul with unbelievable amount of warm fuzzies, and it will be hilarious and it will be heartbreaking and it will be great. I just love it a whole damn lot.
And now I will rec some manga artists I like because all their works are good and I’m too lazy to rec individually! Putting the rest of this under a cut because it really is getting…long.
Many moons ago, I embarked on a neverending quest to find and read more fantasy and sci-fi fiction where queer sexuality actually exists—and better yet, wherein a main character is actually homo-, bi-, or pansexual! There isn’t a lot of it, and I feel increasingly frustrated every time I browse the section in a library or book store.
However, this past weekend I found in the library’s SF/F section a book that not only turned out to be good, enjoyable, and compelling, but also contains same-sex relationships.
Today I finished reading Santa Olivia by Jacqueline Carey; it made me cry a little, which is a good thing, because I always tear up at the end of a well-crafted novel. I checked it out because I’m familiar with and rather fond of Carey’s acclaimed Kushiel’s Dart, the protagonist of which is a bisexual woman. (If you haven’t read it yet, you should. It’s wonderful.)
Santa Olivia takes place in the near future, in a town on the U.S.-Mexico border which has been taken over by the U.S. military and declared a non-entity, its residents no longer citizens of any country. The central protagonist is a girl, and then woman, named Loup Garron—a play on loup-garou, a term for ‘werewolf’—whose father was a genetically engineered government experiment. Loup is faster and stronger than other people, and she is physically incapable of feeling fear. The story is partly about Loup growing up and coming of age, and partly about Loup giving the forgotten border town hope through vigilantism, and through other means which probably count as spoilers. We first encounter homosexuality in this written world (and it’s always a huge breath of relief when this happens in a book, isn’t it?) via some supporting characters, who are in a bisexual, polyamorous triad relationship. Eventually, we discover that Loup also has some same-sex interest, and, without giving too much of a spoiler, her longest relationship in the book is with another girl.
It is amazingly satisfying to read a good sci-fi book where the protagonist just so happens to have a same-sex love interest. There need to be more books like this in the world.
So this has been talked about a lot, but I haven’t said much here for various reasons (most of them pertaining to a lack of time for blogging since March or so). Anyway, the contracts are in, the manuscript delivered, and all systems are full steam ahead. And so, without further ado:
Steam-Powered: Lesbian Steampunk Stories will be published by Torquere Press in
December 2010ETA January 2011 with stories by:
N.K. Jemisin: “The Effluent Engine”
Georgina Bruce: “Brilliant”
DL MacInnes: “Owl Song”
Sara M. Harvey: “Where the Ocean Meets the Sky”
Beth Wodzinski: “Suffer Water”
Rachel Manija Brown: “Steel Rider”
Shira Lipkin: “Truth and Life”
Matt Kressel: “The Hand that Feeds”
Meredith Holmes: “Love in the Time of Airships”
Teresa Wymore: “Under the Dome”
Tara Sommers: “Clockwork and Music”
Mikki Kendall: “Copper for a Trickster”
Mike Allen: “Sleepless, Burning Life”
Shweta Narayan: “The Padishah Begum’s Reflections”
Amal El-Mohtar: “To Follow the Waves”
My friend Sara is in this!
I want this.
Michelle Tea, a favorite on the spoken-word scene and beloved in literary circles for books such as Valencia, Chelsea Whistle and most recently Rose of No Man’s Land, has gathered new work by twenty-two of the most outstanding emerging voices in queer girl writing.Baby Remember My Name speaks to the broad range of queer girl experiences in work that is brave, irreverent, funny, sensitive, and hot. Fiction is matched in excitement by graphic novel excerpts and personal essays. Certain to become a literary touchstone for a new generation of writers and readers,