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Beyond Binary: Genderqueer and Sexually Fluid Speculative Fiction

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Speculative fiction is the literature of questions, of challenges and imagination, and what better to question than the ways in which gender and sexuality have been rigidly defined, partitioned off, put in little boxes? These seventeen stories explore the ways in which identity can go beyond binary from space colonies to small college towns, from angels to androids, and fr Speculative fiction is the literature of questions, of challenges and imagination, and what better to question than the ways in which gender and sexuality have been rigidly defined, partitioned off, put in little boxes? These seventeen stories explore the ways in which identity can go beyond binary from space colonies to small college towns, from angels to androids, and from a magical past to other worlds entirely, the authors in this collection have brought to life wonderful tales starring people who proudly define (and redefine) their own genders, sexualities, identities, and so much else in between.


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Speculative fiction is the literature of questions, of challenges and imagination, and what better to question than the ways in which gender and sexuality have been rigidly defined, partitioned off, put in little boxes? These seventeen stories explore the ways in which identity can go beyond binary from space colonies to small college towns, from angels to androids, and fr Speculative fiction is the literature of questions, of challenges and imagination, and what better to question than the ways in which gender and sexuality have been rigidly defined, partitioned off, put in little boxes? These seventeen stories explore the ways in which identity can go beyond binary from space colonies to small college towns, from angels to androids, and from a magical past to other worlds entirely, the authors in this collection have brought to life wonderful tales starring people who proudly define (and redefine) their own genders, sexualities, identities, and so much else in between.

30 review for Beyond Binary: Genderqueer and Sexually Fluid Speculative Fiction

  1. 4 out of 5

    ambyr

    Is expecting a book subtitled "Genderqueer and Sexually Fluid Speculative Fiction" to provide speculative fiction stories about genderqueer characters too much to ask for? Apparently so, if this collection is any indication. It's not that I didn't enjoy any of the stories. It's that almost none of them lived up to the book's label. (Bisexuality is not the same thing as sexual fluidity. Being transgendered is different from being genderqueer.) This is particularly frustrating because this is a co Is expecting a book subtitled "Genderqueer and Sexually Fluid Speculative Fiction" to provide speculative fiction stories about genderqueer characters too much to ask for? Apparently so, if this collection is any indication. It's not that I didn't enjoy any of the stories. It's that almost none of them lived up to the book's label. (Bisexuality is not the same thing as sexual fluidity. Being transgendered is different from being genderqueer.) This is particularly frustrating because this is a collection of reprints hand-picked by the editor. Surely there are others she could have picked instead? How about something of LeGuin's, to start? I was going to go through all of them, but honestly, I don't have much to say about most beyond "meh." I enjoyed "Sea of Cortez" as a solid atmospheric romance about a transwoman serving in the U.S. Navy during WWII, but it had no speculative content--a poor opener for the collection, or perhaps an accurate herald of what was to come. "Fisherman" was a strong piece of erotica with an interesting voice but, again, no speculative content. "A Wild and Wicked Youth" worked for me because I'm familiar with the characters from Kushner's novels, but I suspect it would fail as a stand-alone piece, and it lacks any genderqueer content. "Prosperine When it Sizzles" was enjoyable science fiction, but it handled its aliens in a way unpleasantly reinforcing of gender binaries. (In general, I was baffled that a collection of genderqueer speculative fiction featured not a single story about multi-gendered aliens. It seems an obvious place to go. The editor apparently choose to privilege more "realistic" stories, but--the strength of speculative fiction is the way it can make us rethink our society from the outside by showing us societies utterly alien to us, the tools it has that can serve as metaphor. Why waste that toolkit?) I like the language and world in "Palimpsest"--I think Valente is at her best in short stories--but, again, there's nothing here I would consider genderqueer. "Bonehouse" was solid cyberpunk, but--are you sensing a theme? "Sex with Ghosts" was a fun twist on sexbots (a trope I thought was worn to the bone) and one of the few fictional treatments of asexuality I've encountered that hasn't felt overly preachy to me, but--yeah, that again. "The Metamorphosis Bud" was possibly the only genderswap story I've read where the character's first thought on waking up with an unexpected set of genitals was not "Oh no!" or "Huh, I wonder what sex is like" but "Cool, I've always wondered what it's like to pee as a dude" which was...a little odd to plot an entire story around, but worked out surprisingly charmingly. I have nothing positive to say about the other stories, so I think I'll stop here. Not recommended.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Beans

    For a book called "Beyond Binary," this book was ... really binary. There were two or three stories where the narrator or main character is not assigned a gender but most are either male or female - and often it's not a particularly large component of the story if the character identifies or is identified as trans* in any way. Beyond that, I wasn't particularly impressed with any of the stories. There were a handful I enjoyed but none that really stood out to me. It was kind of a struggle to kee For a book called "Beyond Binary," this book was ... really binary. There were two or three stories where the narrator or main character is not assigned a gender but most are either male or female - and often it's not a particularly large component of the story if the character identifies or is identified as trans* in any way. Beyond that, I wasn't particularly impressed with any of the stories. There were a handful I enjoyed but none that really stood out to me. It was kind of a struggle to keep reading this but I kept hoping that I'd come across a story that would make it worth it. That didn't really happen, unfortunately. Ultimately I was pretty disappointed with this anthology.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    My flight back from Readercon was delayed by several hours, so I got to read this anthology cover to cover. I usually prefer to break up the reading of a themed anthology, but there was enough variety in this one to keep me engaged. I particularly liked the Kelley Eskridge story. I would have loved to see even more variety, both in the types of speculative fiction and in the expected breadth inherent in the "beyond binary" label. Still, taken individually, most of these stories are strong; taken My flight back from Readercon was delayed by several hours, so I got to read this anthology cover to cover. I usually prefer to break up the reading of a themed anthology, but there was enough variety in this one to keep me engaged. I particularly liked the Kelley Eskridge story. I would have loved to see even more variety, both in the types of speculative fiction and in the expected breadth inherent in the "beyond binary" label. Still, taken individually, most of these stories are strong; taken as a whole, this is a bold compilation and a great challenge to the sf status quo.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Sally

    Brit Mandelo is something of a queer genre celebrity, having served as the senior fiction editor for Strange Horizons Magazine, while also leading the discussions on Queering SFF for Tor Books. It was actually an early piece of her on Tiptree Award Winners that first brought her to my attention, and I’ve been relying on her to expand my bookshelf ever since. Beyond Binary is a collection of previously published Genderqueer and Sexually Fluid Speculative Fiction stories that I'd been looking forwa Brit Mandelo is something of a queer genre celebrity, having served as the senior fiction editor for Strange Horizons Magazine, while also leading the discussions on Queering SFF for Tor Books. It was actually an early piece of her on Tiptree Award Winners that first brought her to my attention, and I’ve been relying on her to expand my bookshelf ever since. Beyond Binary is a collection of previously published Genderqueer and Sexually Fluid Speculative Fiction stories that I'd been looking forward to for quite some time. While I found it a bit of a stretch to tag some of the pieces as speculative fiction, and was disappointed in the extent to which some of the authors attempted to queer the concept of gender, it’s still an interesting collection. Nalo Hopkinson's “Fisherman”' was definite highlight of the collection for me. In keeping with the sense of oral storytelling that permeates her novels, the story presents us with a languid revelation of gender, and a remarkably sincere exploration of sexuality. The relationship that develops within the pages is a delight to experience, presenting us with an understanding whore who politely respects her client's chosen gender, while smartly accommodating his birth gender in their intimacies. Ellen Kushner's "A Wild and Wicked Youth" was another strong addition to the collection, a longer story about very personal expressions of gender, and some unusual expressions of sexuality. It’s not quite the mannerpunk sensibility of her Swordspoint novels, but it’s close. If you never thought fighting could be sexy, or that enjoying the thrill of victory could be orgasmic, then you need to read this. Very clever, and very well-done. Sonya Taaffe's "Another Coming" was a beautifully written piece from an author who is new to me. Full of haunting imagery, it only strains the gender binary with one of its relationships, and it's never satisfactorily explained how it could work. All in all, a lovely bisexual romance, but not necessarily something I’d classify as genderqueer. Sarah Kanning's "Sex with Ghosts" was another favourite of mine, from an author I’d certainly like to read more of. Her tale features a robot sex worker with a flair for English poetry. Deeper and more intellectual than the concept might have you suspect, this definitely played into my love for authors like D.B. Story who explore gender and sexuality through those artificial constructs who deliberately exist outside the binary. Keyan Bowes' "Spoiling Veena" lacked something in the storytelling that would have elevated it to favourite status, which is a shame because the subject matter was so compelling. Bowes explores a future in which parents can choose their child's gender, and looks at how things can develop when your child doesn't like the choice you made. It’s not the best flowing story in the collection, but one of the smartest. Liu Wen Zhuang's "The Metamorphosis Bud" is one of the oddest stories in the collection, but an interesting read. We've all had fantasies about waking up with something new in the way of sexual equipment, but I doubt any of us would handle it quite as wonderfully as the old woman who wakes up with a penis. Overall, it’s not quite as breathtaking a collection as I had hoped for, it still offers a good mix of stories, genders, and sexualities with which to draw in readers and maybe, possibly hopefully introduce them to something new. I can certainly think of some stories that I would have included in place of some of the material here, but there are definitely some stellar entries that make this worth a read, especially if you're new to the stories. As published on Frock Magazine

  5. 5 out of 5

    Cow

    I was so excited when I first read about this book and the early reviews. But no. There are a few good pieces in here. "Eye of the Storm" by Kelley Eskridge was both amazing and mind-blowing, and made up for so much of the rest of this book. But at that point, you should probably just pick up her own personal anthology, Dangerous Space. A few of the stories toward the end were good, too, although none super stand-out. Aside from the one story above, the best thing I can say is that most of these ar I was so excited when I first read about this book and the early reviews. But no. There are a few good pieces in here. "Eye of the Storm" by Kelley Eskridge was both amazing and mind-blowing, and made up for so much of the rest of this book. But at that point, you should probably just pick up her own personal anthology, Dangerous Space. A few of the stories toward the end were good, too, although none super stand-out. Aside from the one story above, the best thing I can say is that most of these are less-well-known authors, and this gives them a chance to shine. (Cat Valente aside, who is both more well known and still completely unreadable--the longest ten pages in this anthology.) My main complaint is that, for a book trying to challenge ~the binary~, all the stories were almost entirely binary. Apparently being bisexual is enough to be CHALLENGING THE BINARY. No, it really isn't. And there were maybe two or three actually genderqueer characters in the entire anthology. what? And finally, for an anthology that, in its introduction, promised none of the ~painful big reveal~ stereotype, it contains a story which does exactly that in the most ugly of ways. Such a disappointment from something with so much potential.

  6. 5 out of 5

    A.C. Wise

    Beyond Binary is an incredibly strong reprint anthology, showcasing tales of fluid gender and sexuality. Of the stories I'd read elsewhere, the two stand-outs were Kelly Eskridge's Eye of the Storm and Catherynne M. Valente's Palimpsest. I was delighted to see both included, particularly Eskridge's piece, as it has lingered with me since I first read it years ago, and it perfectly encapsulates the theme of the collection. The stories which were new to me that really stood out were Nalo Hopkinson Beyond Binary is an incredibly strong reprint anthology, showcasing tales of fluid gender and sexuality. Of the stories I'd read elsewhere, the two stand-outs were Kelly Eskridge's Eye of the Storm and Catherynne M. Valente's Palimpsest. I was delighted to see both included, particularly Eskridge's piece, as it has lingered with me since I first read it years ago, and it perfectly encapsulates the theme of the collection. The stories which were new to me that really stood out were Nalo Hopkinson's Fisherman, Sonya Taaffe's Another Coming, and Schrodinger's Pussy by Terra LeMay. I also really enjoyed Bleaker College Presents an All Female Production of Waiting for Godot by Claire Humphrey, The Ghost Party by Richard Larson, and Bonehouse by Keffy R.M. Kerhli. Because the anthology was so well-done overall, I found myself judging it more harshly. The stories that didn't seem to entirely fit the theme, or weren't as strong in other ways, were all the more disappointing when compared to the stories that hit every note perfectly. That said, even those stories that didn't work as well for me personally still have a lot to recommend them, and the anthology is among my favorite reads of the year.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Max

    Well, that was overwhelmingly binary. When an anthology is subtitled "Genderqueer and Sexually Fluid Speculative Fiction", I'm naturally going to go in assuming a fair number of the stories will be about genderqueer or otherwise nonbinary people, you know? But the vast majority of these stories were either about cisgender queer people (including cisgender queer people whose narratives gave no hint of them being actually sexually fluid) or about binary trans* people. And don't get me wrong, I love Well, that was overwhelmingly binary. When an anthology is subtitled "Genderqueer and Sexually Fluid Speculative Fiction", I'm naturally going to go in assuming a fair number of the stories will be about genderqueer or otherwise nonbinary people, you know? But the vast majority of these stories were either about cisgender queer people (including cisgender queer people whose narratives gave no hint of them being actually sexually fluid) or about binary trans* people. And don't get me wrong, I love reading about binary trans* people, but when I seek out a book specifically to get stories about genderqueer characters, that isn't exactly what I'm looking for. Beyond that, a huge number of these stories just did not do it for me. I absolutely loved "Fisherman", "Eye of the Storm" and "Sea of Cortez" -- the latter of which is excellent as a period piece about a trans woman, even if the speculative content felt just barely shoehorned in -- and "Sex With Ghosts" was delightfully, refreshingly great on the asexuality front, and was a nice surprise to me as an asexual person. Those three stories alone constitute my three-star rating; nothing else in this anthology really wowed me, and some were downright binarist or otherwise cissexist, in addition to frustratingly lumping tired tropes like "cis woman wakes up one day with a penis" in with stories about people who actually identify outside the gender binary, as if they are the same. Not recommended.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Greg

    For a book that claims to be "beyond binary" and "genderqueer," the almost complete lack of either in this anthology is astonishing. (Doubly so since it's full of reprints.) Most stories paid lip service at best via some bisexuality (and often fleeting at that), and for a book that promised no surprise reveal of genitals as a punch line, one of the stories in fact does just that. The best thing about this book is Kelley Eskridge's "Eye of the Storm" which really is just reminding me that I've had For a book that claims to be "beyond binary" and "genderqueer," the almost complete lack of either in this anthology is astonishing. (Doubly so since it's full of reprints.) Most stories paid lip service at best via some bisexuality (and often fleeting at that), and for a book that promised no surprise reveal of genitals as a punch line, one of the stories in fact does just that. The best thing about this book is Kelley Eskridge's "Eye of the Storm" which really is just reminding me that I've had a copy of her short story collection (in which this is also included) for ages and need to read it. Sandra McDonald's "Sea of Cortez" is likewise strong, although its sf/f content is minimal for those who worry about that sort of thing. The second half of the anthology in particular feels ill-formed and fragmentary; lots of stories that are more along the lines of mood pieces than fully fleshed out creations. My rating for this book is really a 1.5 star rather than 2 star rating. It's not an awful book (which is what the 1-star rating is for, and makes me wish that we had both half-stars and 0 star options), and a handful of stories are well worth reading, but on the whole this feels like a nice idea that was ineptly executed.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Laura Lam

    Was thinking about adding this in my undergraduate module reading list, but I think it's too light on the speculative fiction elements and more sexuality explicit than I want to discuss with a room full of 20 years olds. Not that many actual genderfluid leads either. Like most anthologies, there were stories I enjoyed and some that didn't work for me.

  10. 5 out of 5

    M.

    Really appreciate the diversity of identities on display in this anthology, as well as the varying degrees of focus the stories place on gender and sexual identity -- some stories are focused largely on identity, others treat identity as a given, only marginally relevant to the story at hand. Glad to see asexuality represented here -- in Sarah Kanning's "Sex with Ghosts" -- interestingly, both Kanning's story and Tobi Hill-Meyer's "Self-Reflection" have to do with a character encountering hersel Really appreciate the diversity of identities on display in this anthology, as well as the varying degrees of focus the stories place on gender and sexual identity -- some stories are focused largely on identity, others treat identity as a given, only marginally relevant to the story at hand. Glad to see asexuality represented here -- in Sarah Kanning's "Sex with Ghosts" -- interestingly, both Kanning's story and Tobi Hill-Meyer's "Self-Reflection" have to do with a character encountering herself -- but with MUCH different approaches to sex/sexuality. I think these two were among my favorites -- also really loved Keffy R. M. Kehrli's "Bonehouse," which involves an evictionist hired to find and disconnect net addicts hiding out in bonehouses; Keyan Bowes's "Spoiling Veena," which explores trans issues within a near-future India where children are genetically engineered. I could write at length about many of these stories; and of course some I appreciated some more than others. I agree with those who note that maybe the subtitle is not super accurate to the stories the book contains. That said, while perhaps only a handful of the stories themselves could be said to operate as either/both "genderqueer" and "sexually fluid," the book as a whole definitely does.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Christopher

    I read this back in June but forgot to rate and review. The selections are all good to great, but I got my money's worth from Delia Sherman's "Faery Cony-Catcher" and Richard Larson's "The Ghost Party". Valente's story, "Palimpsest," was nice to see here, too, particularly since her novel of the same name often eclipses the story that was its seed. The Kelly Eskridge story was one I had not come across before, and it was wonderful, as were the Sandra McDonald and Ellen Kushner stories. Kudos to I read this back in June but forgot to rate and review. The selections are all good to great, but I got my money's worth from Delia Sherman's "Faery Cony-Catcher" and Richard Larson's "The Ghost Party". Valente's story, "Palimpsest," was nice to see here, too, particularly since her novel of the same name often eclipses the story that was its seed. The Kelly Eskridge story was one I had not come across before, and it was wonderful, as were the Sandra McDonald and Ellen Kushner stories. Kudos to the editor and publisher for putting together and bringing out a book that's necessary. May there be more.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Melinda

    Overall, I really liked the anthology. There where stories I didnt like because the plot wasn't of interest to me. A good example was the pirate story. I like the idea of computer hackers as pirates but I couldn't connected with the drinking of rum as a medium to reincarnation and possession. I liked Fisherman by Nalo Hopkinson. It was grounded in a reality of experience that I believe could have existed in a different era. I also really adored Spoiling Veena! Veena knew that Vikrum was truly wh Overall, I really liked the anthology. There where stories I didnt like because the plot wasn't of interest to me. A good example was the pirate story. I like the idea of computer hackers as pirates but I couldn't connected with the drinking of rum as a medium to reincarnation and possession. I liked Fisherman by Nalo Hopkinson. It was grounded in a reality of experience that I believe could have existed in a different era. I also really adored Spoiling Veena! Veena knew that Vikrum was truly who they where and no amount of arguing could change their understanding of their gender. It was a entertaining story.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Valerie

    Meh. A couple of good stories and quite a few that are so oblique they are almost incoherent (and I'm not interested enough to invest the time to decipher them). Starts stronger than it finishes...and if I hadn't read the title of the anthology or the introductory essay, I wouldn't have guessed the common theme.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jaye

    I was attracted to the title of this one, but I don't feel like it lived up to the hype. Don't get me wrong; there are some good stories here, but I agree with some of the other reviews here. In addition to the good stories are a bunch of ho-hum, nothing to see here stories.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Richard Larson

    I'm in this book, but don't let that stop you. These are urgent, important stories, and I hope they get read by lots and lots of people.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Samuel

    For those who're TLDR - I suggest reading the book, because it's good. This collection first came to my attention because it’s got “Eye of the Storm – Kelley Eskridge” in it; I love the story so I decided to buy the collection. It turned out, though, to have many more stories I ended up enjoying! I’ve decided to review the collection story by story, since I’m unsure how to discuss theme without spoilers. While I won’t be giving plot specific spoilers, I do mention my emotions/impressions of the s For those who're TLDR - I suggest reading the book, because it's good. This collection first came to my attention because it’s got “Eye of the Storm – Kelley Eskridge” in it; I love the story so I decided to buy the collection. It turned out, though, to have many more stories I ended up enjoying! I’ve decided to review the collection story by story, since I’m unsure how to discuss theme without spoilers. While I won’t be giving plot specific spoilers, I do mention my emotions/impressions of the story (so if that’ll spoil it for you, skip this and go read the collection). I will generalize my feelings on the story with the Goodreads 5 star system (1 for ‘dislike,’ 2 for ‘eh,’ so on). NOTE: there is sex all over the place in this collection. If you don’t want to handle that, skip it (which would be unfortunate). Sea of Cortez by Sandra McDonald - A story about a member of the Navy during WWII, who can see the beginning and end of people & objects. I was mildly confused, then sad, then happy. I felt it to be okay, but not super-fantastic (the use of second person may have thrown me a bit). 2 of 5 stars. Eye of the Storm by Kelley Eskridge - The story by which I measure all the other stories in this collection by. Mars, the POV character, is a child of war. I found it to have strong voice, excellent descriptions, epic characters; I could go on all day about how much I love this story. If you read only one story in this collection (which I don’t suggest), read this one. 5 of 5 stars. Fisherman by Nalo Hopkinson - I was super frustrated by this story at first, as I couldn’t understand what was going on. Once I got into the cadence of the language I was fine. It’s about a fisherman visiting a prostitute for the first time. I wasn’t super fond of the main character, and I really liked some of the supporting characters. So, all in all an okay read. 2 of 5 stars. Pirate Solutions by Katherine Sparrow - Pirates, hackers, and multiple perspectives in this story. The protagonists are a romantic and/or sexual triad. I liked the sweeping sense of history this story managed to convey. I also thought it had vivid descriptions. 3 of 5 stars. “A Wild and a Wicked Youth” by Ellen Kushner - I saw this as a story about power. What is it, who has it, and how is it used? I also saw it as being about relationships, and the connection between relationships and power. I would really like for it to have a sequel. That’s my only complaint, which isn’t really a complaint I suppose. 4 of 5 stars. Prosperine When It Sizzles by Tansy Rayner Roberts - Badass POV character, political intrigue, dark pasts. It gave me a sense of a large setting, which I enjoyed. The supporting characters sprung out at me as well, which was good. 5 of 5 stars. The Faerie Cony-catcher by Delia Sherman - Before you ask, it means con artist or something similar. Yes, I looked it up after reading the story (it was the only way to be sure). There’s different language here as well, with which I had some trouble. Once I got into it, as above, I enjoyed the story. There are faeries, and one of them is a Cony-catcher. The story reminded me a lot of some European folklore I’ve read. 3 of 5 stars. Palimpsest by Catherynne M. Valente - Descriptions in this are rich, varied, and frequent. It paints a setting breadth and depth, and that setting is a city. Characters enhanced or informed the setting for me, so I went with it. There’s not a conflict plot (that I could tell), and the story is a good one. Beautiful, stirring language. 4 of 5 stars. Another Coming by Sonya Taafe - I have mixed feelings about this story. On the one hand, I thought the characters, setting, and dialogue were all angelic (this is a good thing). On the other hand, I was disturbed by some behaviors of the supporting characters. 2 to 4 of 5 stars. Bleaker Collegiate Presents and All-Female Production of Waiting for Godot by Claire Humphrey - This story starts with bleeding, which is almost never a good thing. I felt a bit down after reading this story, though I’d consider it well-written. Everything else I could say here is spoilers all the way down. 3 of 5 stars. The Ghost Party by Richard Larson - This was a bit of a horror story for me. Trust betrayed, being stuck in a moment forever, having your human growth stemmed or turned back. And for what? I found questions without answers in this story (I didn’t see this as a good thing). 2 of 5 stars. Bonehouse by Keffy R.M. Kehrli - The POV character is looking for something, or looking to be something. So are the people he hunts down. I felt like this story was about what makes a human who they are. Are we just our bones, or is what makes who we are something less tangible? The story provides some choices, and in those choices I could see what the characters thought. 5 of 5 stars. Sex with Ghosts by Sarah Kanning - This story starts out with a premise, then sharks after it like it was blood in the water. There are sex-bots, so be warned. One could say the story is about sex, and that wouldn’t even be wrong. For me, though, this story was more about belonging. Parts of it freaked me out. 5 of 5 stars. Spoiling Veena by Keyan Bowes - The politics in this story are interesting. I’d consider the setting a dystopia. You may disagree. Discussing this without spoilers is difficult. 4 of 5 stars. Self-Reflection by Tobi Hill-Meyer - It’s a time travel story (it’s not a spoiler, it’s the premise). It answers a popular time-travel question, and does so well enough. What the question is exactly is a spoiler, so just read it. 3 of 5 stars. The Metamorphosis Bud by Liu Wen Zhuang - Georgia wakes up with a penis, and the story goes from there. She’s an awesome POV, and the story is a good one. There are some charming background characters as well. One of my favorites of this collection. 5 of 5 stars. Schrödinger’s Pussy by Terra LeMay - This story was trippy like whoa. And it *works* (really well, I felt). It plays with time, which might be a mite disorienting. It’s an excellent ending story, even if I felt the last line to be a bit of an anvil.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Iona Sharma

    I got this on a whim and really liked it. As with all anthologies it's hit and miss; some stories seem a little short on the speculative element (there was at least one where I couldn't make it out at all) and others seem a little short on the stated theme of the anthology. I don't want to make this latter criticism too harshly as an author's notion of what they set out to write might be different from mine, and what reads to me as other elements of the queer umbrella might well be meant as a ge I got this on a whim and really liked it. As with all anthologies it's hit and miss; some stories seem a little short on the speculative element (there was at least one where I couldn't make it out at all) and others seem a little short on the stated theme of the anthology. I don't want to make this latter criticism too harshly as an author's notion of what they set out to write might be different from mine, and what reads to me as other elements of the queer umbrella might well be meant as a genderqueer story. The one that did seem a little self-indulgent in this regard however was the Valente story, "Palimpsest". There's also one story that struck me as actively amateurish, "Self-Reflection". However on the whole it's way more hit than miss, and I liked the book very much taken as a whole. Particular favourites were "Sea of Cortez", by Sandra McDonald; "Fisherman" by Nalo Hopkinson, "Spoiling Veena" by Keyan Bowes and "The Metamorphosis Bud" by Liu Wen Zhuang.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Ellen

    As usual with short story anthologies, it's a pretty mixed bag, but a better bag than usual- I did read everything in the collection! There's a Richard St. Vier backstory for the Tremontaine/ Riversiders that I was delighted to find. (I should come back with the book for a better breakdown of authors to look for)

  19. 5 out of 5

    Chibixio

    Disappointing

  20. 5 out of 5

    Peter Parker

    This book is enjoying.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Courtru

    A rare anthology where most of the stories are pretty strong and quite easy to read through. There were so many variations on the theme and creative ways of interpreting it.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Joshua

    Yeah, the stories had some gender-diverse characters, but a whole lot of them didn't make any sense to me. Many were drawn out, over-complicated short stories that seemed to serve no point.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Lee

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. First off, I'm really happy that this book exists at all. I love SF, and as a non-binary person, it's pretty rare that I get to see anyone even vaguely resembling myself in fiction. But. (There are a fair few 'buts' with this book.) But the majority of the stories seemed to feature cis protagonists who were bi/pan and that was apparently the 'beyond binary' thing, and it's not like I object to stories with bi/pan protagonists (far from it!), but I was really really hoping to see a few more genderq First off, I'm really happy that this book exists at all. I love SF, and as a non-binary person, it's pretty rare that I get to see anyone even vaguely resembling myself in fiction. But. (There are a fair few 'buts' with this book.) But the majority of the stories seemed to feature cis protagonists who were bi/pan and that was apparently the 'beyond binary' thing, and it's not like I object to stories with bi/pan protagonists (far from it!), but I was really really hoping to see a few more genderqueer/non-binary/genderfluid protagonists. There were plenty of characters who were in some way non-normative for the pronouns that were used for them, but literally not a single character who explicitly said, 'I am not a man or a woman'. (There was the intersex faerie character, but that was pretty problematic, how, even though Peasecod's lover was totally chill about it, the pronouns immediately switched to 'he' as soon as Peasecod's penis was revealed. And the way the other faeries, who could have been written as not at all impressed by human norms, instead were like, 'Haha, silly human, you've made a bad bargain there if you want that one as a lover'. Grr.) And it's SF! If there were ever a genre to go 'To hell with this binary gender nonsense!', this would be it! And yet basically nobody did. My favourite story was one of the very few to have a completely ungendered protagonist - 1st person narration, no one else ever used any pronouns, ambiguous fantasy name - and that's certainly a valid approach, but it would have been so nice for someone, at some point, just to have gone, 'I am confused by this whole man/woman thing. Why do I have to choose?' Even the stories with explicitly trans protagonists (which, aw fuck yes) were, unless I'm forgetting something, only ever binary trans people. Grump. (No, actually, I'm still pretty excited about narratives with binary trans people as protagonists. It's not like they're so common that I'm jaded or anything! Just... wistfully thinking about what might have been.) Also, I would have liked a sight more space exploration/dystopian machinations/plot in general instead of some of the erotica that was there. I realise that's a personal taste thing, and it is super important to have stories that normalise the idea of trans people having sex in ways that aren't creepily fetishistic, but from my own POV, I'm pretty much ace as fuck, and only really find sex interesting if it involves characters I already have a lot of feelings about (ask me how I feel about Harriet and Peter's wedding night, I dare you). (On that note, I did not enjoy the story with an ace protagonist. I'm not sure what the point of it was? The narrative climaxes seemed to be 'ace person has sex with a sexbot of herself and doesn't hate it' and 'ace person is replaceable with a version of herself that is programmed to want sex, and everyone else thinks this is a great improvement'. The first, there really wasn't enough introspection (despite the 1st person POV) for me to really understand the point of it, and the second is a frankly shitty ending.) There were a fair few stories I was just kind of meh about, which were mainly the ones with the apparently-cis protagonists (I just feel let down by the title! If they hadn't specifically used the term 'genderqueer' in the title, I would have been much more onboard with 'OK this is a general queer smorgasboard with some focus on gender things'). Sadly one of the stories I did otherwise like (steampunk far future! with actual reasons for the steampunk! and a lot of casually bi/pan and poly characters! and a trans protagonist!) didn't seem to understand who vs. whom (suuuch a nitpick, I'm sorry! But it was really jarring for it to come from the supposedly well-spoken character). I did absolutely love 'Eye of the Storm' by Kelly Eskridge (enough that I even went back and checked the title and author!). It had everything I am a sucker for in fiction - scrappy protagonist who learns to outfight their master, ragtag band of companions bound together by love and acceptance, basically everyone being bi and/or poly, some really evocative settings and some fantastic fight scenes. I think in general I'm not cut out for a) short stories and b) literary fiction (a lot of these were billed as SF, but... weren't really. Some of them seemed to be using SFF elements as some kind of metaphor, but some I literally could not tell where the S part came in, except in an 'imagine if queer people got to be protagonists!' way. So overall, I'm really unhelpfully undecided about this collection. There were bits I loved, bits that had me going, 'Ooh, not sure I like the subtext of that', bits I've completely forgotten. I think I'm glad a collection like this exists, I just... wish it had been more what my little non-binary heart desired when I saw the word 'genderqueer' in the title. Which isn't really anyone's fault but my own. If nothing else, it's made me think seriously about busting out a keyboard and working on some of my own SF with non-binary characters.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Adrian

    Over all, the writing throughout the book is decent, but not at all "genderqueer," "sexually fluid," or "speculative." if you're looking for that kind of thing, you won't find it here. further review as follows: warnings: transphobia, cocsa, lesbophobia, ... - trans fetishism, a misunderstanding/misrepresentation of trans experiences - there isn't a single non-binary character, only fetishised binary trans characters - calling binary trans people genderqueer or non-binary is misgendering them. - lite Over all, the writing throughout the book is decent, but not at all "genderqueer," "sexually fluid," or "speculative." if you're looking for that kind of thing, you won't find it here. further review as follows: warnings: transphobia, cocsa, lesbophobia, ... - trans fetishism, a misunderstanding/misrepresentation of trans experiences - there isn't a single non-binary character, only fetishised binary trans characters - calling binary trans people genderqueer or non-binary is misgendering them. - literally there's a story with very young boys licking one another's toes. wtf. why would you include that. - there's a story in this "genderqueer and sexually fluid" collection about lesbians. lesbians aren't either of these things? stop fetishising lesbians to suit your ~~queer~ ideals - one story is very hinted at being about a lesbian coming to terms with compulsory heterosexuality. again, no non-binary characters or sexually fluidity. just a young lesbian. - another reviewer pointed out very rightly that these stories aren't sexually fluid. most of them are just bi/pan experiences, and occasionally just gay.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jenn

    I really enjoyed most of this collection, only two stories fell a bit short (one due to choppy flow, other due to slow start and use of a "ye olde" dialect that was cumbersome to decipher). Also introduced me to a few new authors to check out!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    This is a fascinating and much-needed anthology. While I thought some of the stories were less daring than others--or, for whatever reason, less appealing to me personally--the majority were excellent: well-written, thought-provoking, and a pleasure to read. I'd like to talk just a little bit about my favorites, focusing on those that worked exceptionally well both as stories and as considerations of gender and sexuality. "Sea of Cortez" is barely SFF--there's precognition or prophesy that doesn' This is a fascinating and much-needed anthology. While I thought some of the stories were less daring than others--or, for whatever reason, less appealing to me personally--the majority were excellent: well-written, thought-provoking, and a pleasure to read. I'd like to talk just a little bit about my favorites, focusing on those that worked exceptionally well both as stories and as considerations of gender and sexuality. "Sea of Cortez" is barely SFF--there's precognition or prophesy that doesn't always work--but it has the tone of slipstream and is a beautifully written exploration of a transgendered sailor who can use the war to find the romance (or at least sex) that she craves, but lives with the knowledge that even this more permissive atmosphere won't allow her full expression of herself. It's lush and atmospheric, grounded in specific detail but dreamlike all the same--appropriate for an experience that seems doomed to be fleeting. "Eye of the Storm" has, in its protagonist Mars, one of those rare literary characters whose gender is never apparent or important; even if you never noticed that, however, you would still see the loveliness with the prince, and Mars's atypical way of making love, and the way the revelation of the self isn't, as Mandelo talks about in the introduction, something that causes repulsion, but rather something that leads to fuller understanding, and therefore is all to the good. Also, it's physical and gritty and emotionally real; I'd like to read all the other Mars stories now. "Fisherman" is one of the most explicitly genderqueer selections, and one of my favorite stories in the collection; it does an excellent job of avoiding binary positions with its protagonist, who is physically female and mentally/emotionally... more/other/else. A fisherman, rather than a man or a woman or even a "mannish woman." The voice is terrific and provides just as much setting as the physical details like the smell of fish and the texture of skin, and it specifies KC in a way that a lesser story would have left its character a bland representation of nothing but gender expression. KC has personality to spare. "Sex With Ghosts" features an asexual protagonist who takes special orders for fully customized sex bots, and who makes a startling discovery about fantasy. She's an instantly likeable narrator and one that I would happily read a whole novel about (there are too few definitively asexual characters in literature, anyway), and her situation is unique and compelling. There are a handful of other stories that I loved as stories while not necessarily thinking that they stretched the binary definitions too far and there are a handful of others where I appreciated the redefinitions and political elements without ever coming fully into the story; in these cases, though, there was still pleasure of some kind being taken. It's a strong anthology with a wide variety of story types, and it should be on the bookshelf of anyone interested in these subjects. (Also, because I like to mention this where I can, it's a beautifully designed book, from the cover to the page layout: kudos to Lethe.)

  27. 5 out of 5

    Carol March

    Review for Beyond Binary. I really enjoyed this collection of stories about people redefining sexual identity and gender. The stories are all speculative fiction, reprinted from a variety of speculative fiction magazines and anthologies. They range from the slightly different to the quite strange, and some are more accessible than others, but all are well written and worth reading. The choices are a good selection of the editor calls “sexually fluid”, one of my current favorite phrases. Several Review for Beyond Binary. I really enjoyed this collection of stories about people redefining sexual identity and gender. The stories are all speculative fiction, reprinted from a variety of speculative fiction magazines and anthologies. They range from the slightly different to the quite strange, and some are more accessible than others, but all are well written and worth reading. The choices are a good selection of the editor calls “sexually fluid”, one of my current favorite phrases. Several stories are sexually explicit and others cover some dark territory. Two of my favorites were at the end. In The Metamorphosis Bud, an 87-year old woman wakes up to find herself transformed. How she explores the transformation in the streets of San Francisco is truly funny. In Schrodinger’s Pussy (the best title, INHO), a woman is visited by a future self and what ensues is both explicit and fascinating. I also enjoyed A Wild and A Wicked Youth, for the writing, and because I learned how Richard, from Swordspoint, got to Riverside. The Faerie Cony-Catcher was a twist on the havoc fairies can wreak on the unsuspecting, expressed in lovely language and a twinkle in the eye. I also very much enjoyed Fisherman, a wonderful character who tugged at my heart, and Eye of the Storm, a long story with wonderful characters and an unusual premise that came together beautifully.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jill

    I was soooo excited when I saw this, that I bought it. I never buy books. If they aren't at the library, then I resign myself to never reading them. But I had to have it! Which is probably why I was so very disappointed when half the stories didn't live up to my expectations. Stories I did very much enjoy included "Eye of the Storm", "Fisherman","Bleaker Collegiate Presents", "Self-Reflection", and "The Metamorphosis Bud". I think I liked these because there was a playful lightness, a joy in disc I was soooo excited when I saw this, that I bought it. I never buy books. If they aren't at the library, then I resign myself to never reading them. But I had to have it! Which is probably why I was so very disappointed when half the stories didn't live up to my expectations. Stories I did very much enjoy included "Eye of the Storm", "Fisherman","Bleaker Collegiate Presents", "Self-Reflection", and "The Metamorphosis Bud". I think I liked these because there was a playful lightness, a joy in discovery that wasn't present in the others. (Or the others were just too speculative (aka: weird) for my tastes.) For me, it begs the questions, how can you represent the concept of "gender queer" in fiction? How can you do it in a way that doesn't fetish it, or point out it's difference? How do you "mainstream" something that isn't? How do you even describe something that isn't within the binary without evoking the binary itself? These are questions I struggle with. I think this book struggled with this too - I was just hoping to find the answer inside the struggle, and I'm not sure I did. It probably deserves more than three stars, but I can't hide my disappointment. Boo. I hope it will serve as a stepping stone for future writing by these and other authors.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Cole Jack

    I'm rating this three stars only because a few of the stories, in particular "Eye of the Storm," "Fisherman," and "Bonehouse," are worth reading. That said, I was disappointed by Beyond Binary because it occasionally lacked the genderqueer and sexually fluid components in stories while other stories lacked the genre of speculative fiction unless someone realllly stretched the genre. In other words, the theme of the collection does not come across consistently through the stories selected. I foun I'm rating this three stars only because a few of the stories, in particular "Eye of the Storm," "Fisherman," and "Bonehouse," are worth reading. That said, I was disappointed by Beyond Binary because it occasionally lacked the genderqueer and sexually fluid components in stories while other stories lacked the genre of speculative fiction unless someone realllly stretched the genre. In other words, the theme of the collection does not come across consistently through the stories selected. I found myself fighting discomfort and frustration at the number of stereotypical portrayals of trans identities in this anthology. Sometimes gender identity and sexuality were wielded creatively and with respect, but other times it seemed as though authors half-heartedly tossed in a comment about gender changes, almost always with an accompanying negative reaction by people who know them. It is disappointing that a recently published anthology is not as progressive in its overall depiction of genderqueer, trans, and sexual identities as earlier works of speculative fiction--Delany, Russ, Le Guin, to name but a few.

  30. 5 out of 5

    T.C. Mill

    Recently, I’ve started seeking out fiction, especially speculative fiction, about trans and genderqueer characters. A call out for ideas on Twitter resulted in this book being recommended to me. As several other reviewers have said, Beyond Binary isn’t always as “beyond binary” as it could have been, and I’m puzzled at the inclusion of some of these stories, but it does form a diverse and excellent sampler of LGBT fiction from leading authors in the field. Some names I recognized before going pa Recently, I’ve started seeking out fiction, especially speculative fiction, about trans and genderqueer characters. A call out for ideas on Twitter resulted in this book being recommended to me. As several other reviewers have said, Beyond Binary isn’t always as “beyond binary” as it could have been, and I’m puzzled at the inclusion of some of these stories, but it does form a diverse and excellent sampler of LGBT fiction from leading authors in the field. Some names I recognized before going past the table of contents, and some I’d like to get to know more. On the whole, I would definitely recommend this anthology as a great sampler of LGBT spec fic. Sometimes erotic, often thought-provoking, and not infrequently fun, its stories offer a diversity of experiences and subgenres and seem like a great place to start exploring further. See the full review.

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