RUN! The Queers are coming! They’re here to destroy everything, including your science fiction! It’s the great SJW apocalypse! Exclamation point!
勢孤取和 (Influence Isolated, Make Peace) by John Chu | Lightspeed Magazine: Queers Destroy Science Fiction!
Jake acquired his target as soon as he stepped into the cafeteria. For the good of the war, he had passed without a trace through forests and mountains to reconnoiter and assassinate. For the good of the subsequent peace, Jake now needed to have lunch with a random stranger and emulate a human being.
The target sat by himself at a table in the corner, staring at his tablet. His lunch sat untouched, his chopsticks clearly unused. Slices of poached chicken breast lay on a bed of brown rice next to a pile of kimchi. The soy sauce and star anise of the poaching liquid and the spicy salty tang of the kimchi no one else seemed to notice hit Jake from across the room. Far more interesting than four slices of cheese pizza. Grease pooled in tiny orange circles on Jake’s slices and soaked through the paper plate onto his hands.
“Excuse me, is this seat taken?” Jake pulled out the seat next to his target as he set his slices of pizza on the table.
The target’s gaze flicked up at Jake. “Cyborg.”
“Well, that didn’t take long.”
The mission was to avoid detection.
You’d think science fiction would be well and truly destroyed by now, given that women worked so hard to get that done. However, in their rush to destroy fantasy and horror, they left some work undone. Never fear, the queer folk have got this.
Just as with the special Women Destroy! issue, Queers Destroy Science Fiction is a masterclass on the presence of LGBT+ authors, themes, and influences in the genre—not just from the present or recent past, either. The issue has a ton of original fiction, reprints, and a slew of essays. (Read the
editorial manifesto, it’s brilliant.) It’s well worth buying the $3.99 eBook. But if you need your appetite whetted, there will be some free fiction throughout the month. Such as this great John Chu story about cyborgs that is simultaneously macho and tender and thoughtful and boss.
Top image by Odera Igbokwe
Three Voices by Lisa Bolekaja | Uncanny Magazine
A dark–skinned force of nature stepped center stage, her mic held like a weapon in front of full lips painted a shimmery blue. Close–cropped hair dyed sunset red with a matching flame–colored corset and purple mini–skirt, the singer called Chocolate Tye ripped into the set. She led the band into a rousing Sly & the Family Stone mash–up with some hard–hitting original music, and then she erupted into a classical number where her voice soared above the crowd and then dove into the audience, holding them all hostage with aural pleasure.
“You like that?” Chocolate Tye asked the audience, and Andre found himself responding enthusiastically with the crowd. She was slaying her set.
“Goddammit, she’s good,” he said.
The dude at the center of this story is not likable at all, and that’s what I find fascinating about this piece. Chocolate Tye is the compelling one, and I love the descriptions of them working together (I was a musician in a former life and I recognized so much in this). That the story is told from Andre’s point of view with his creepy annoying male-gaze issues is not an unconsidered choice on Bolekaja’s part. Just read it, and you’ll see what I mean.
Zapped by Sherwood Smith | Tor.com
I remember a mobile hanging over my crib. It was a cardboard carousel of flying horses, with little animals—teddy bears, bunnies, cats—riding on their backs. One of my parents would set the mobile in motion, then they’d shut me in and leave me alone. But that was okay because the mobile would stay in motion until I was asleep.
Babies don’t wonder why a thing doesn’t need batteries. To them, the world is filled with magic. It isn’t until you get older that the adults begin to dispel the magical things, one by one, for your own good. It’s their duty, they say, to prepare you for reality.
Sometimes their reality turns out not to be yours. That’s what happened to me.
Things were just always there. If I was drawing, I didn’t have to look up to grab my scissors or eraser or another pen. I reached, and picked it up.
Who knows if I ever would have noticed, if it hadn’t been for my getting sick halfway through summer...
(You should heed the trigger warning on the page: This short story contains transphobic language and discussion of hate crimes, which some readers may find upsetting.)
Though I have a lot of questions about this story, and though this is clearly the prequel to an exciting YA novel (I hope it is! Please say it is so!), I included this because I am enticed by the characters and the world. The main character’s voice sucked me in right away, and I appreciated how she spends time working through her thoughts and feelings and not just being reactionary. There’s a lot to react to in this story, but what’s frustrating is that the final resolution to it all doesn’t happen on the page. I need the further adventures!
This story is also a really good rebuttal to that nonsense from the other week about it being impossible to build a world in a story story. Smith deftly builds up backstory, (maybe) magical powers, and some non-mainstream ideas about relationships and sexuality (which often require just as much worldbuilding prowess as fantasy elements) in the space of a novelette. The plot elements need more space, the building of the world does not.
Agree or disagree?
Image credit: Junyi Wu