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On Beyond Cisgender, part Three: Jeff Baker, Boogieman in Lavender

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                     QSF On Beyond Cisgender Part Three

                                       By Jeff Baker

            For a year or so now, I have been posting about authors who do not fit the “white, male, cisgender” paradigm most familiar from recommended reading lists in schools. Three books on the list this time, three books that I discovered by accident.

            “Cosmos Latinos” (ed. by Andrea L. Bell and Yolanda Molina Gavilan, published by Wesleyan University Press) is a large collection of fiction by Latin American authors from the turn of the last century to the present century. Most surprising to some readers unfamiliar with the state of spec-fic in Latin America is that the anthology puts to rest the idea that Latin American spec-fic automatically means “Magical Realism.”

“The Violet’s Embryos” by Angelica Gorodischer makes use of “homosexuality” in its plot, while Daina Chaviano’s “The Annunciation” offers a different perspective on the Gospel story.

The informative introduction by Bell and Molina-Gavilan is a mini-class on the subject, touching on its history, the markets, the sub-genres (Everything from Space Opera to religious symbolism to stories inspired by masked professional wrestling!) as well as the problems of producing fiction under regimes not friendly to fiction or free speech. The book clocks in at over 330 pages of interesting fiction.

            “Zion’s Fiction” (ed. by Sheldon Teitelbaum and Emanuel Lottem, Mandel Vilar Press) presents sixteen short stories of speculative fiction by Israeli writers. Most originally published in Hebrew (some published in English in American magazines.) Plus, a Foreword by Robert Silverberg.

            The informative introduction by Teitelbaum and Lottem could also be used as the basis for a university-level course on the subject, with a history of the modern genre in Israel. (Both this and “Cosmos Latinos” feature a good deal of notes at the end of the book plus suggestions for further reading.)

            Stories include Mordechai Sasson’s “The Stern-Gerlach Mice,” sort of “Pinky and the Brain” taken to a horrific extreme, as laboratory-enhanced mice escape and run amok. 

            And I had the book for about three weeks before I caught the pun in the book’s title!

            The work of writer Margaret St. Clair has not quite been forgotten, there was a “Best Of” volume of stories published two decades ago and some of her stories have been adapted for TV, but there is a lot of her short fiction that has not been reprinted since it first appeared. “A Compendium of Margaret St. Clair,” (ed. by Christopher Broschell,) may rectify that. It collects works she published under her own name and as Idris Seabright or Wilton Hazzard from the 1940s on, running the gamut from science fiction to fantasy to horror. St. Clair’s famous story “The Boy Who Predicted Earthquakes” is not included but her horror story “Horror Howse” is. Much of this fiction has not been collected before, including several of the “Oona and Jick stories,” comedies written about a husband and wife in the future who confront various futuristic gadgets which usually don’t work the way they are supposed to. St. Clair’s satire of postwar suburbia didn’t go over as well with the readers at the time, but they are worth a chuckle today like a dated early 50s sitcom.

            St. Clair was a woman writing science fiction without hiding behind ambiguous initials (like C. L. Moore) or a male pseudonym, back when that was practically unheard of.

            So, those are three books to add to the reading list. More to come later.

            Here are links for the books mentioned above:

Jeff Baker blogs about reading, and writing sci-fi, fantasy and horror and other sundry matters on or about the thirteenth of every month. He and his husband Darryl happily live in a house with more books than they will probably ever read, but do not speak Spanish or Hebrew. His fiction has appeared in QSF’s “Innovation,” and his non-fiction has been posted on the “Amazing Stories” site. He regularly posts fiction on his blog    and can be found on Facebook at

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