SFF For Trans Day of Visibility!

Posted 31st March 2024 by Sia in Lists, Queer Lit, Recommendations / 0 Comments

Happy International Transgender Day of Visibility, everyone! If you’ve been here a while, you know I celebrate big days with rec lists, so here’s one for today!

(Apologies that it’s so short; I try not to repeat books I’ve recced before, these days, and I’ve featured most of my faves before!)

The Fifth Wound by Aurora Mattia
Genres: Fantasy, Queer Protagonists, Speculative Fiction
Representation: Trans MC, trans love interest

A baroque work of intimate myth exploring one woman's interdimensional search for beauty and embodiment, through kaleidoscopic renderings of hospital corridors, brutal breakups, and passionate romance.

The Fifth Wound is a phantasmagorical roman à clef about passion as a way of life. In one dimension, this is a love story--Aurora & Ezekiel--a separation and a reunion. In another, we witness a tale of multiple traumatic encounters with transphobic violence. And on yet another plane, a story of ecstatic visionary experience swirls, shatters, and sparkles.

Featuring time travel, medieval nuns, knifings, and t4t romance, The Fifth Wound indulges the blur between fantasy and reality. Its winding sentences open like portals, inviting the reader into the intimacy of embodiment--both its pain and its pleasures.

This is a gorgeous, hypnotic, decadent, experimental accounting of a period in one trans woman’s life – but the imagery of her thoughts, the way she sees the world, makes it both literary fiction and phantasmagorical fantasy at once. It’s very hard to explain: it’s one of those books that has to be experienced, because no description is going to do it justice!

Prophet by Sin Blaché, Helen Macdonald
Genres: Queer Protagonists, Sci Fi
Representation: Desi masc nonbinary/genderqueer MC, M/M

Daring, surprising and superbly plotted, this is a fresh, thrilling page-turner from a dynamic new duo in genre fiction

Your happiest memory is their deadliest weapon.

It knows when you were happiest. It gives life to your fondest memories and uses them to destroy you. But who has created it? And what do they want?

An all-American diner appears overnight in a remote British field. It's brightly lit, warm and inviting but it has no power, no water, no connection to the real world. It's like a memory made flesh - a nostalgic flight of fancy. More and more objects materialise: toys, fairground rides, pets and other treasured mementos of the past.

And the deaths quickly follow.Something is bringing these memories to life, then stifling innocent people with their own joy. This is a weapon like no other. But nobody knows who created it, or why.

Sunil Rao seems a surprising choice of investigator. Chaotic and unpredictable, the former agent is the antithesis of his partner Colonel Adam Rubenstein, the model of a military man. But Sunil has the unique ability to distinguish truth from lies: in objects, words and people, in the past and in real time. And Adam is the only one who truly knows him, after a troubled past together. Now, as they battle this strange new reality, they are drawn closer than ever to defend what they both hold most dear.

For Prophet can weaponise the past. But only love will protect the future.

Blink and you’ll miss the line where he says so, but Rao isn’t cis. What he is is a whole lot of trouble with one of coolest superpowers, utilised the most intelligently, that I’ve ever seen! This is a compulsively readable sci fi that deals with some very weird and unique ideas, but the real appeal is the two main characters and their very complicated dynamic. Ignore the boring cover; this one’s pretty psychedelic, albeit much easier to read than Fifth Wound!

The Memory Librarian: And Other Stories of Dirty Computer by Janelle Monáe, Yohanca Delgado, Eve L. Ewing, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Danny Lore, Sheree Renée Thomas
Genres: Queer Protagonists, Sci Fi, Science Fantasy
Representation: QBIPOC MCs, F/F

In The Memory Librarian: And Other Stories of Dirty Computer, singer-songwriter, actor, fashion icon, activist, and worldwide superstar Janelle Monáe brings to the written page the Afrofuturistic world of one of her critically acclaimed albums, exploring how different threads of liberation—queerness, race, gender plurality, and love—become tangled with future possibilities of memory and time in such a totalitarian landscape…and what the costs might be when trying to unravel and weave them into freedoms.

Whoever controls our memories controls the future.

Janelle Monáe and an incredible array of talented collaborating creators have written a collection of tales comprising the bold vision and powerful themes that have made Monáe such a compelling and celebrated storyteller. Dirty Computer introduced a world in which thoughts—as a means of self-conception—could be controlled or erased by a select few. And whether human, A.I., or other, your life and sentience was dictated by those who’d convinced themselves they had the right to decide your fate.

That was until Jane 57821 decided to remember and break free.

Expanding from that mythos, these stories fully explore what it’s like to live in such a totalitarian existence…and what it takes to get out of it. Building off the traditions of speculative writers such as Octavia Butler, Ted Chiang, Becky Chambers, and Nnedi Okorafor—and filled with the artistic genius and powerful themes that have made Monáe a worldwide icon in the first place—The Memory Librarian serves readers tales grounded in the human trials of identity expression, technology, and love, but also reaching through to the worlds of memory and time within, and the stakes and power that exists there.

There is a non-zero chance I’m the last person to read this and everyone else looking for trans SFF leapt on this masterpiece ages ago – but just in case you haven’t come across it before, I can tell you that this is a masterpiece! Not every story features a trans or non-binary MC, but a lot do, and the Dirty Computer setting is an invention of Monáe’s, who is herself non-binary. Making the entire Dirty Computer universe and everything in it a non-binary creation!

Godly Heathens by H.E. Edgmon
Genres: Fantasy, Contemporary or Urban Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Trans nonbinary Seminole demiromantic pansexual MC, polyamory, brown trans love interest, plus-sized Indigenous trans love interest, QBIPOC cast, very minor fibromyalgia rep
PoV: First-person, present-tense

Infatuation. Reincarnation. Damnation.

Gem Echols is a nonbinary Seminole teen living in the tiny town of Gracie, Georgia. Known for being their peers’ queer awakening, Gem leans hard on charm to disguise the anxious mess they are beneath. The only person privy to their authentic self is another trans kid, Enzo, who’s a thousand long, painful miles away in Brooklyn.

But even Enzo doesn’t know about Gem’s dreams, haunting visions of magic and violence that have always felt too real. So how the hell does Willa Mae Hardy? The strange new girl in town acts like she and Gem are old companions, and seems to know things about them they’ve never told anyone else.

When Gem is attacked by a stranger claiming to be the Goddess of Death, Willa Mae saves their life and finally offers some answers. She and Gem are reincarnated gods who’ve known and loved each other across lifetimes. But Gem – or at least who Gem used to be - hasn’t always been the most benevolent deity. They’ve made a lot of enemies in the pantheon—enemies who, like the Goddess of Death, will keep coming.

It’s a good thing they’ve still got Enzo. But as worlds collide and the past catches up with the present, Gem will discover that everyone has something to hide.

Yes, Godly Heathens is YA, but even if you don’t typically read YA, I strongly urge you to give this one a try, because, just – wow. Freaking WOW. This whole book is one big mic-drop, honestly; the premise is ridiculously cool, and don’t be fooled by what (at first) seems like simplistic worldbuilding, because it’s all much more complex than you’d think!

Also, I challenge you to read this and not fall in love with the absolute trainwreck that is Gem. Go ahead. I dare you.

Besides, the sequel (and final book) is out next month, so you won’t have to wait long to find out what happens next!

My review!

The Scapegracers (Scapegracers, #1) Genres: Fantasy, Contemporary or Urban Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Butch lesbian nonbinary MC, major bisexual Asian, assorted queer and BIPOC and QBIPOC minor characters-American character, major queer Black character,
PoV: 1st-person, past-tense

An outcast teenage lesbian witch finds her coven hidden amongst the popular girls in her school, and performs some seriously badass magic in the process.

Skulking near the bottom of West High’s social pyramid, Sideways Pike lurks under the bleachers doing magic tricks for Coke bottles. As a witch, lesbian, and lifelong outsider, she’s had a hard time making friends. But when the three most popular girls pay her $40 to cast a spell at their Halloween party, Sideways gets swept into a new clique. The unholy trinity are dangerous angels, sugar-coated rattlesnakes, and now–unbelievably–Sideways’ best friends.

Together, the four bond to form a ferocious and powerful coven. They plan parties, cast curses on dudebros, try to find Sideways a girlfriend, and elude the fundamentalist witch hunters hellbent stealing their magic. But for Sideways, the hardest part is the whole ‘having friends’ thing. Who knew that balancing human interaction with supernatural peril could be so complicated?

Rich with the urgency of feral youth, The Scapegracers explores growing up and complex female friendship with all the rage of a teenage girl. It subverts the trope of competitive mean girls and instead portrays a mercilessly supportive clique of diverse and vivid characters. It is an atmospheric, voice-driven novel of the occult, and the first of a three-book series.

Yes, I’ve recommended this series before – but this is the first time I’ve gotten to recommend the complete trilogy, because book three was only released this week! These are YA too, but that doesn’t stop them from being electric and razor-sharp with absolutely breathtaking prose – and magic that feels so real. The MC Sideways only starts using they/them pronouns at the very end of book two, but there’s a lot of gender feeds going on before that!

My review of The Scapegracers
My review of The Scratch Daughters
My review of The Feast Makers

You can find some of my other trans and non-binary SFF recs at the links below!

Fantasy Featuring Fabulous Trans Leads
Your Gender Binary Is Imaginary: Non-Binary Characters in Fantasy (+bonus scifi)
Your Gender Binary Is Still Imaginary: SFF For International Non-Binary People’s Day!
Celebrating Transgender Day of Visibility With SFF!
SFF Faves From Trans and Nonbinary Authors!
Your Gender Binary Remains Imaginary: SFF For Non-Binary People’s Day!

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