The Half-Made World by Felix Gilman is a wild, inventive ride. It takes place in a seriously alternate version of our world in the late 1800s, where technology and mind-altering demons go hand in hand. Fortunately, this crazy land is peopled with deep, well-developed characters, a rare occurrence amidst so much intricate world-building.
In 2018, a lot of science fiction writers got weird. They gave us happiness machines, time-traveling detectives, dragons, deadly intergalactic singing contests, a superhero whose power is math, and disappearing shadows. Good stuff.
LGBTQ people will pilot spaceships, colonize planets, battle aliens, invent warp engines, and discover all sorts of intergalactic weirdness. So of course there should be great science fiction stories about them.
In the list below, some books focus on sexual identities as a major theme, while others just have a gay character or two. I won’t usually spell out which books are which, because that has the chance of spoiling a plot point, and I’d hate for that to happen.
If any technology has the best chance of making the world unrecognizable in the next century, it’s genetic engineering. It’s fun to imagine flying cars and spaceships, but we could just as easily end up with migratory buildings and Be a New Species Day in elementary schools.
The famous Philip K. Dick wrote some amazing books, but in his later years, penned a few stinkers. Fortunately, Ubik is one of the good ones. It starts out dystopian (the door to one’s apartment requires coins to open and close every single time) and quickly gets very weird, as characters become unsure of what time they’re in, or even how alive they are. It’s bizarre fun.
I get excited by a good book, and sometimes read more quickly than I should. Audiobooks slow me down to a more humane pace, allowing me to really spend time in the words of a book instead of blasting through it. Listening to an audiobook can give me a surprisingly deeper reading experience than, well, reading. I’m not ever giving up paper books, but I’m impressed at the depth of the experience of a really well-done audiobook.
Starting in the fifties, there were tons of books about the colonization of space. Humans went everywhere, and no amount of alien weirdness stopped us.
There are a few recent colonization stories, but the majority of modern science fiction focuses on dystopian societies and post-apocalyptic wastelands.
Maybe this is a coincidence, or maybe as a species, we’re a lot less optimistic than we used to be. Continue reading