By Jeff Baker
When I was scoping out markets for LGBT-themed science-fiction/Fantasy/Horror (1) short-stories (2) about five years ago, I decided to do my research. Not just into markets but into what sort of fiction of this type had been written and was being written today. The “had been” is important; there have been complaints that today are readers who gush over “Twilight” who have never heard of “Dark Shadows.”
So here are some, not all, of the books I perused (3) while I was figuring out exactly what sort of stuff to write.
“Bending The Landscape,” published between 1996 and 2003, edited by Nicola Griffith and Stephen Paget with one volume each dedicated to Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror in the days when gay-themed stories could be considered “groundbreaking.” The stories still hold up today, and include authors like Nancy Kress, Alan Steele, Barbara Hambly and Tanya Huff.
“Queer Fear,” edited by Michael Rowe, came out (4) in 2000 and is another representative collection of horror stories, 2000 still being early in the modern period of gay sci-fi.
Two relatively early reprint anthologies “Kindred Spirits” (ed. Jeffrey M. Elliot) and “Worlds Apart” (edited by Camilla Decarnin, Eric Garber and Lyn Paleo) appeared in 1984 and ’86, respectively. Back when collecting this material actually was daring, a point borne out by the introductions to each book. And this is a good time to point out that the introductions in most of these collections offer a historical context for the material and are a must-read.
There’s probably another blog post on the subject of Lesbian vampire stories (and probably an industry in the producing of them!) Editor Pam Keesey’s 1993 collection “Daughters of Darkness” includes LeFanu’s “Carmilla,” as well as over a half-dozen more reprints, all good reads.
“The Ghost of Carmen Miranda,” a 1998 anthology of mostly original ghost stories edited by Julie K. Trevelyn and Scott Brassert (5) go heavily on the theme of lovers separated by death, and I think that an original anthology of gay-themed stories in the mode of M.R. James may be long overdue.
2008 was a landmark year in the history of the genre as it saw the publication of the first volume of “Wilde Stories,” Editor Steve Berman’s yearly “Best of” collection of speculative fiction. This series is a must read for anyone who cares about the form and the 2016 edition has just been published. If anything in the ensuing decade the variety has become more pronounced as there have been more stories published that would fit the theme. In 2011, Berman and JoSelle Vanderhooft began the companion volume “Heiresses of Russ,” featuring the best lesbian-themed speculative fiction of the year (with different co-editors for Berman.) Likewise a must-read, that is still being published by Berman’s Lethe Press.
Lethe Press, it should be mentioned, regularly publishes theme anthologies such as “So Fey” (gay stories involving fairies. Yes, the supernatural kind), “The Touch of the Sea,” and “Suffered from the Night,” and “Where Thy Dark Eye Glances,” offering gay takes on Stoker’s Dracula and the works of Edgar Allan Poe respectively. Also must-reads.
Just time enough to list a few more in passing: “Queer Wolf” and “Queer Dimensions,” from Queered Fiction (out of South Africa) both edited by James EM Rasmussen, “Hellbore and Rue,” edited by Vanderhooft and Lundoff focusing on lesbians and magic and a genuine alternate history anthology “Time Well Bent,” edited by Connie Wilkins.
And before I ever considered writing any gay-themed fiction myself, I read through “Am I Blue?” Harper Collins’ 1994 YA anthology, edited by Marion Dane Bauer which I admit I bought for Bruce Coville’s funny title story.
Lastly, I made my way through several single-author collections including work by Hal Duncan, Christopher Barzak, Jewel Gomez and the aforementioned Steve Berman. Again, highly recommended. By this time I had written and submitted my first gay-themed speculative fiction story to an anthology. It was rejected. And the anthology never came out. (6)
1: There is yet another column/essay/blog post in the idea of acronyming everything.
2: I write and read mainly short stories.
3: Amazon loves me.
4: No joke intended.
5: The title is from the song and anthology “Carmen Miranda’s Ghost Is Haunting Space Station Three.” I’m not kidding.
6: It should be noted that I was well into writing LGBTQ stories by the time I encountered Queer SciFi, J.Scott Coatsworth, Dreamspinner Press, et al.
Jeff Baker writes about writing and reading sci-fi/horror and other sundry matters on the thirteenth of each month. (Sometimes he remembers to post a bio!) His latest story appears in Queer Sci Fi’s anthology “Flight.” He lives and writes in Wichita, Kansas with his husband Darryl. Find him wasting time of Facebook at Jeff Baker, Author and on the blog http://authorjeffbaker.