Your Gender Binary Remains Imaginary: SFF for International Non-Binary People’s Day!

Posted 14th July 2023 by Sia in Lists, Queer Lit / 0 Comments

I rec trans and nonbinary SFF so often, it’s hard to find ones I haven’t recommended before – but happily, we live in a literary era where there’s more all the time! Thus, for this International Non-Binary People’s Day, I have six SFF novels and novellas for you!

Happy reading!

The Last Dragoners of Bowbazar by Indra Das
Genres: Fantasy, Contemporary or Urban Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Brown nonbinary MC, queer Chinese love interest

Ru is a boy from nowhere. Though he lives somewhere--the city of Calcutta--his classmates in school remind him he doesn't look like them, and must come from somewhere else. When Ru asks his parents, they tell him they are descended from nomads. But even nomads must come from somewhere. The question, forever on the mind of the boy from nowhere, is where.

Ru dreams things that wouldn't seem out of place in the fantasy novels his father read to him when young. Fragments of a culture that doesn't exist in this world, but might in another, where sky and sea are one, and humans sail this eternal ocean on the backs of divine beasts.

Ru dreams of dragons, of serpents impossible.

Perhaps Ru remembers dragons. Alone in a city that's home but doesn't feel like it, Ru befriends Alice, his neighbor from the nearby Chinatown. As they grow with their friendship, Ru finds that Calcutta may yet be a home for him. But with his best friend starting to realize that Ru's house and family hide a myriad of secrets, the question haunts him still--where is his family from? Are they truly from nowhere, migrants to this reality? And if so, what strange wings brought them across the vast reaches of impossibility to here--and what is their purpose?

The Last Dragoners of Bowbazar is a book that is possibly even more ethereally beautiful than its cover – and its cover, as you can see, is breathtaking. This is soft and magical and dreamy, with possibly my favourite take on dragons ever, which is wildly and yet tenderly unique. (There’s also a fictional book – written by the protagonist’s father – that I would commit terrible sins to get my hands on!) I would happily dive into a full series of novels about the Dragoners, but this particular story is perfect as a novella, exactly as long as it should be, no longer or shorter. The writing craft that went into this is every bit as impressive as Das’ incredible imagination.

This is one of those books you shelve inside your heart and never forget. Trust me.

Bang Bang Bodhisattva by Aubrey Wood
Genres: Queer Protagonists, Sci Fi
Representation: Biracial Japanese trans MC, Latino MC, polyamory

An edgy, queer cyberpunk detective mystery by an exciting new trans voice from New Zealand.

Someone wants trans girl hacker-for-hire Kiera Umehara in prison or dead—but for what? Failing to fix their smart toilet?  

It’s 2032 and we live in the worst cyberpunk future. Kiera is gigging her ass off to keep the lights on, but her polycule’s social score is so dismal they’re about to lose their crib. That’s why she's out here chasing cheaters with Angel Herrera, a luddite P.I. who thinks this is The Big Sleep. Then the latest job cuts too deep—hired to locate Herrera’s ex-best friend (who’s also Kiera’s pro bono attorney), they find him murdered instead. Their only lead: a stick of Nag Champa incense dropped at the scene.  

Next thing Kiera knows, her new crush turns up missing—sans a hand (the real one, not the cybernetic), and there’s the familiar stink of sandalwood across the apartment. Two crimes, two sticks of incense, Kiera framed for both. She told Herrera to lose her number, but now the old man might be her only way out of this bullshit...

A fast-talker with a heart of gold, Bang Bang Bodhisattva is both an odd-couple buddy comedy that never knows when to shut up and an exploration of finding yourself and your people in an ever-mutable world.  

Bang Bang Bhodisattva surprised me by being extremely funny and joyful, despite being set in a pretty dystopian near-future. I was constantly having to read passages aloud to the hubby so he’d understand why I was giggling to myself in a corner. There’s a really strong element of finding ways to be happy with the people you love even when the world’s on fire; of found-family, and oppressed minorities sticking together. I’m desperately hoping there will be sequels; not because this book ends on a cliff-hanger, but because I adore this cast so much and need to see them again!

If Found, Return to Hell by Em X. Liu
Genres: Fantasy, Contemporary or Urban Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Chinese nonbinary MC

Being an intern at One Wizard sounds magical on the page, but in practice mostly means getting yelled at by senior mages and angry clients alike. And so, after receiving a frantic call from a young man who’s awoken to a talisman on his bedroom wall—and no memory of how it got there—Journeyman Wen jumps at the chance to escape call-center duty and actually help someone for once.

But the case ends up being more complicated than Wen could ever have anticipated. The client has been possessed by a demon prince from Hell, and he’s not interested in leaving.

This is a ridiculously cute, sweet novella about the hell that is Customer Support – especially when you do actually want to help people. The MC Wen steps outside of the scripted dialogue for tech support, and ends up entangled with a mysterious sigil and a demon prince who is definitely not where he’s supposed to be!

Two Dark Moons (Sãoni Cycle, #1) by Avi Silver, Haley Szereszewski
Genres: Fantasy, Queer Protagonists

Sohmeng Par is sick of being treated like a child. Ever since a tragic accident brought her mountain community’s coming-of-age ritual to a halt, she’s caused nothing but trouble in her impatience to become an adult. But when she finally has the chance to prove herself, she’s thrown from her life in the mountains and into the terror of the jungle below.

Cornered by a colony of reptilian predators known as the sãoni, Sohmeng is rescued by Hei, an eccentric exile with no shortage of secrets. As likely to bite Sohmeng as they are to cook her breakfast, this stranger and their family of lizards are like nothing she’s ever seen before. If she wants to survive, she must find a way to adapt to the vibrant, deadly world of the rainforest and the creatures that inhabit it—including Hei themself. But Sohmeng has secrets of her own, and sharing them could mean losing everything a second time.

To reiterate the mini-review I wrote for this: Sometimes a family is you, the kid that screech-danced and bit you, and a pack of (not!-)murderous lizards. And that’s okay.

Actually, it’s great. The Sãoni Cycle follows a culture where your gender is determined by the moon you were born under – and that gender is supposed to determine your entire personality. I loved the whole idea of this – and then we get to meet the sãoni in the jungle??? *chef’s kiss* Marvellous!

The Scandalous Letters of V and J by Felicia Davin
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Nonbinary MCs, NB/NB

Paris, 1823. Victor Beauchêne has led a stifling existence, unrecognized for both his cleverness and his gender, except in the pages of his meticulous diary. Abruptly cut off from his family’s fortune, he takes the opportunity to start a new life in a shabby boarding house with his beloved spinster aunt Sophie. There, he stumbles upon two kinds of magic: a pen with eerie powers of persuasion and a reserved, alluring art student named Julien.

Brilliant, unconventional Julien is also Julie, a person whose magical paintings can transform their body or enchant viewers. Haunted by a terrible episode in their past, they’ve come to Paris for artistic success—the ordinary, non-magical kind. Victor, too handsome and far too inquisitive, is a dangerous distraction from their ambitions.

Drawn to each other, Victor and Julie strike up a cautious correspondence of notes slid under doors. It soon unfolds into a passionate romance. Outside the bedroom, their desires clash: Julie wants to distance herself from the world of magic and Victor wants to delve deeper. When the ruthless abuser from Julie’s past resurfaces, he aims to take control of her powers and ruin more lives. Victor and Julie are the only ones who can stop him. Do they trust each other enough to survive the threat to their love and their lives?

The Scandalous Letters of V and J is a historical fantasy romance with two nonbinary main characters, told primarily in letters and diary entries. It is approximately 100,000 words long and sexually explicit.

Mostly told through letters, notes, and journal entries, this is a historical fantasy featuring two very different nonbinary people, the relationship that builds between them, and some very cool magics. (Plus some scarier ones.) I’m pretty sure everything Davin’s published so far features queer characters, so if you enjoy Letters, make sure to check out their backlist!


Pluralities by Avi Silver
Genres: Queer Protagonists, Sci Fi
Published on: 3rd October 2023

"Wait—rewind. I was still a girl back then, before the universes converged."

Guided by premonitions and a fateful car ride, a burned-out retail worker stumbles into the grand exit from womanhood. Meanwhile, in a galaxy not so far away, an alien prince goes rogue with his sentient spaceship, seeking purpose in the great glimmering void. As the two of them come together in a fusion of body and mind, they must reckon with their assigned identities.

Tender, witty, and daring, Pluralities is a slipstream-meets-space-adventure story honoring the long and turbulent journey into gender euphoria.

Although it’s not out yet, may I recommend you keep an eye out for Avi Silver’s Pluralities? I’m reading an arc now and honestly, I’m loving it even more than I did Two Dark Moons. You can preorder it now from the publisher, or wait a little longer for it to appear in all the usual places. But either way, put it on your tbr!

You can find some of my other nonbinary SFF recs at the links below!

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!

Happy International Non-Binary People’s Day, everyone!

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