Tue
Jan 22 2013 12:00pm
Sleeps With Monsters: Lesbian SFF Romance

Sleeps With Monsters: Lesbian SFF Romance

Romance is a genre with a long history of attracting opprobrium. Especially among certain sorts of sci-fi/fantasy fans: all those feelings getting in the way of science and politics. Add queerness, and the enthusiasm level seems to go right down....

Me, I suffer intermittently from depression and anxiety. When I’m in a slump—or when I’ve been freaking out, as postgraduate students do, and trying to do shitloads of work in not nearly enough time—I don’t want to be reading big crunchy juicy books full of bittersweet pain or complicated politics or ethically complex issues: I want to read books that ask little of my attention, and give a lot back in terms of comforting entertainment. Last year, not for the first time, when I went looking for the comfort food of SFF literature, I kept coming up against a brick wall, one ably described by Foz Meadows in her “The Unbearable Lightness of Default Settings” in December:

“I haven’t been taking issue with all flaws, universally, but rather with a particular subset of flaws whose presence in SFF narratives is so ubiquitous that, up until last night, I hadn’t rightly distinguished them as belonging to a separate category... novels which, overwhelmingly, could be fairly categorised as light or easy reading—the similarity of their flaws was obvious: All were stories whose treatment of gender, race and/or sexual orientation had rubbed me the wrong way, most usually through the use of unhelpful stereotypes and problematic language... Which meant that Sword stood out to me, not because it’s thematically original, but because it’s a fun, straightforward adventure fantasy that doesn’t demean its female characters.”

Much of SFF’s “easy reading” is problematic in one way or another. The ways that stand out most vividly to me, naturally, are to do with gender. And, honestly? Sometimes a body wants a book that’s all about the women, no men involved, in which things blow up, or duels and battles happen; a book that doesn’t justify the absence of emotional investment in its male characters, or make it a book about terrible, painful struggles.

You find that in lesbian SFF romance, I discovered. They’re books that can be problematic in ways all of their own, and occasionally play into the stereotypes of subcultures with which I’m not familiar—but one thing they don’t do is demean their female characters. Or their female readers, for that matter.

I’m not going to lie to you. Lesbian SFF romance is very much a niche subgenre, and my experience suggests the quality of writing in said subgenre is all over the map. Much of it, in fact, is terrible prose, and occasionally a lack of narrative logic, that I’d wince to see emerge from the slushpile in less niche skiffy. That bad writing on technical grounds can still provide emotional enjoyment, no one’s denying, but my challenge to myself in 2012 was to find examples I wouldn’t be embarrassed to recommend to others.

Reader, I succeeded. Although for the number of such novels I read, the number I can recommend is disappointingly low. (Dear world: more stories where gender equality is the unmarked and unremarkable state, and more queer characters in fiction, and more lowbrow novels that meet these criteria, please?)

Jane Fletcher is the first author writing lesbian SFF romance whose work I read, several years ago now. Her prose style is plain, tending to the naive, but her characters possess vividness and personality that makes up for it. Occasionally the worldbuilding’s on the raw side, but on the whole, I’m very fond of her Celaeno series, flaws and all.

Shadows of Aggar, by the late Chris Anne Wolfe, is planetary space opera in a mode deeply influenced, to my eye, by the likes of Bradley’s Darkover. The prose is for the most part fluid, and the characters and situations engaging, although the device employed to compel the two main characters into close contact bears all the hallmarks of a debut author’s decision and very little logical justification. The not-quite-a-sequel, set many generations later, Fires of Aggar, is also a novel worth considering, and bears evidence of improvement in craft... although certain conceits strike me as a touch overdone. They’re only available as Kindle ebooks, it seems—converting to epub to read is an annoying inconvenience.

The Pyramid Waltz, by Barbara Ann Wright, is a novel I have mentioned before. The debut offering from a writer whose prose is already more than competent and whose narratives will, I think, improve with practice. I’ve always been a sucker for secret lives, and outsiders who have to navigate societies new to them: I look forward hopefully to the sequel, which should come this year.

An honourable mention goes to Sandra Barret’s The Face of the Enemy, which is a not-very-terrible romance between two fighter-pilot cadets in a space-opera setting: the science is made of handwavium but the story is at least entertaining.

And let me mention Ruth Diaz’s novelette Dynama, about the relationship between a single-mother superhero and the woman who comes to take care of her children, under the shadow cast by the supervillain ex-husband: an accomplished and emotive story.

There are some truly terrible lesbian skiffy romances out there: the ones that come foremost to mind were written by Cate Culpepper, which I read in the spirit of WTF? and non-stop cackling—O, the worldbuilding, O, the plot, O, the pointless angst and somewhat ridiculous BDSM overtones, O my sides hurt so much—but of the remainder, I shall pass over in silence, for they are no more ridiculous than a number of straight romances that I’ve turned to in many a difficult hour (pinned down by pain, as the poet wrote).

I want there to be more stories with queer female protagonists, and more where queerness and femaleness are both unmarked states. The unmarked state part is important to me: representations are important, and being represented as normal, natural, without need for justification: that’s a balm, so it is. On anecdotal evidence (which is to say, my impressions), we’re still more likely to see gay male protagonists or important secondary characters in mainstream skiffy than lesbian ones, and neither portrayal has yet reached the point of sufficient saturation that one could call the utterly unremarkable. Therefore let me appeal to writers and publishers alike: increase the saturation, please.

As for everyone else: lesbian SFF romance, yes/no/maybe? Who, what, and why?


Liz Bourke rejects the gender binary, but not binary code. Find her @hawkwing_lb on Twitter.

49 comments
Cathy Pegau
1. Cathy Pegau
Great post. There's definitely not enough lesbian SFFR. Oh, there seems to be a lot if you're looking for erotic/erotica, and some of it's quite good. But just a romance or romantic elements? Hard to find.

I've enjoyed Nicola Griffith's works. Ammonite is foremost in my mind. Not "easy reading" as far as a fast and light read, but excellent.

And, ahem, at the risk of blatant self promo...Can I suggest my own Rulebreaker from Carina Press? :)
Cathy Pegau
3. baywoof
@Chuck Smith -- if you think homosexuality is a pestilence on society, how are you not a homophobe? I support the idea of a 'warning' label though, as it would make it easier to seek out queer books.

I'd love to read more lesbian SFF, but the writing of a lot of it is terrible. I'm looking forward to checking out the books on your list.

Nicola Griffith's Ammonite and Slow River are pretty much the best thing I've found in the genre so far (as well as being some of my favorite SFF books.)
Cathy Pegau
4. Nicholas Winter
Chuck, you are a homophobe. And if you can have labels for what you don't like, I want labels for excessive religious content. No, I don't really want that, nor do I want any fiction labeled for what it contains.
Shelly wb
5. shellywb
I've never found any, so I'm surprised and pleased you found some to recommend. I'll be trying these out. I've found the same problem with gay sff romances too though. So many are written by former slash writers who feel that believable = dark, angsty, tortured souls without a hint of fun or humor. Please, let's have some more balanced books- or even some that are just plain fun adventures.
Cathy Pegau
6. Patrick Stutzman
I think that lesbian SFF romance has a place just like any other subgenre, as long as it has readers. One SF book with lesbian romance elements that I highly recommend reading is "The Girls from Alcyone" by Cary Caffrey.
Chris Nelly
7. Aeryl
Jacqueline Carey has a lesbian YA Scifi series, Santa Olivia and Saints Astray.

Pretty good stuff, Saints Astray goes a little Buffy S8, IMO, but its still a good story.
Rob Hansen
8. RobHansen
I feel I ought to put in a word here for the works of Gael Baudino. Long out of print, I believe, they pull you in and keep you reading. GOSSAMER AXE has a lesbian protagonist on a mission to rescue her girlfriend, while her Dragonsword Trilogy - which I reread recently (raced through the trilogy in three days) - has a non-lesbian female protagonist but features several trans characters. All worth seeking out, IMO.
Irene Gallo
9. Irene
Comment #2 was removed. No need to feed the trolls.
Natalie Luhrs
10. eilatan
Honestly, the only thing I can think of that might be along these lines is Katherine V. Forrest's Daughters of a Coral Dawn which is not a very subtle book--it is basically lesbian separatist SF and I don't remember if there's a romance or not--it's been years since I read it (maybe time for a reread?). There's also a sequel, but I haven't read it. Forrest was/is a very political writer and that's definitely at the forefront of this book (and all her books--she wrote a book which could be considered a non-SFnal romance--Curious Wine--as well as a number of lesbian mystery novels).

I'll be watching comments, as I'd love to read more lesbian SFF romance. As well as other kinds of queer SFF romance.
William Carter
11. wcarter
Well, the fastest way to turn something from a small, niche market into a viable one is to buy every good book in said market. That and to recommend them to everyone you can. If the writers and publishers start making more money in that "niche", better books will inevitably follow.

If it's successful long enough, it will become a permenant genre and the free market will have succeeding in fixing a flaw society could not on it's own. For better or worse, people (writers and publishers included) will let go of their sterotypes when it's losing them money to hold onto them.

Western novels aren't selling right now, so not many people are writing Westerns. Paranormal romances are, so the book shelves are flooded with them. When something else comes along that grabs the readers' attention (and sooner or later it will), another sub-genre will boom.

It's only a matter of time before the market (that's us) forces the various publishers to acknowledge that we would like greater parity in gender and orientation in our stories. If publisher a won't, then we buy books from publisher b, and the ones who refuse to change suffer a loss in profits.
Cathy Pegau
12. Gerry O'Brien
Unnatural? Pestilence? Warning Label?

Science Fiction and Fantasy has always been about opening people's minds, not locking them away in some fundamentalist mindset.

Perish forbid someone in 2013 should read something they disagree with!
Jenny Kristine
13. jennygadget
"Sometimes a body wants a book that’s all about the women,..."

Along with more lesbian romance, I'd love more school/academy type stories that feature all or mostly girls/women. This may may or may not be influenced by the years I spent at an all women's college. :)

@wcarter

"If the writers and publishers start making more money in that "niche", better books will inevitably follow."

Not that buying said books is a bad idea, but NO, actually it is not inevitable that better books will follow, especially when one is talking about topics/themes against which there is a significant amount of prejudice. Granted, attitudes towards women, homosexuality, and lesbian romance are better than they they were several decades ago, so it may work. Now.

I just think it's dangeous to start putting forth arguments that, on the flip side, suggest that the reason why there is, for example, little lesbian romance is merely due to lack of interest. That way leads to confirmation bias and worse.
Cathy Pegau
14. Ginger
I knew it would pay off some day, buying all these books! (I do have both Aggar books, although I could not read the second one.) Katherine Forrest wrote several politically-charged books, and then settled down to a career as an editor. I know I have other books from the 1980s that include the occasional SF, but most lesbian fiction tends to be either plain novel or mystery.
Amy Palmer
15. wayfaringpanda
I'm so excited for this post, you have no idea! I'm always hunting for more books featuring strong female leads, and if they're lesbian so much the better! Also tracking the recommendations in the comments - Nicola Griffith is definitely one of the best author's I've read, even if it did take me forever to get through Slow River.

Not sure if either of these completely meet the requirements for this list, but I'd also recommend Black Blade Blues, by J.A. Pitts, and The Steel Seraglio by Mike, Linda and Louise Carey. BBB has a lesbian lead, strong, capable, and a hero. She has problems with her own lesbianism, but it's somewhat empowering to go through that journey with her. As for Steel Seraglio, it's a book focused mostly on female characters who overcome diversity and form a society of their own in retaliation to their exile. Tons of strong women, at least one lesbian relationship, and not your typical European-based fantasy - set more likely somewhere in the Middle East or North Africa.
Cathy Pegau
16. PhoenixFalls
SO HAPPY to see this post -- I love my chewy, thoughtful books that realistically examine the various axes of societal repression, but sometimes I do just want to read something light and fun that doesn't make me want to bang my head against the wall for its politics.

Happy to see somebody rec Jacqueline Carey's novels upthread, though Santa Olivia is a little chewy and Saints Astray pissed me off (the lesbian couple, though they have a lot of (not very graphic) sex, always seemed to be performing the sex for the male characters around them).

And Nicola Griffith's work, as has been mentioned above, is absolutely brilliant -- though I'd never turn to it as comfort reading.

If you're in a high fantasy mood, I'd strongly recommend Laurie J. Marks' Elemental Logic series. It isn't finished yet -- there's one more novel that hasn't been written -- but it's a big epic fantasy series that's got a fairly nuanced portrayal of war and the tensions between occupying and occupied forces, that is set in what is practically a homonormative and casually polyamorous world. And Small Beer Press is reissuing the first novel, Fire Logic, in a very pretty trade paperback edition sometime early this year.
Chris Nelly
17. Aeryl
I don't know if I see that, they have a lot of sex in hotel rooms with no one else around. After they start with the band, there is a little showing off, but I saw it more as a "back off mine" kinda thing, than they were doing it for their gratification. But, I'm not a lesbian, so YMMV.

One of the things I like about Carey, especially that she's moving into urban fantasy, is that with typical urban fantasy that I read(Laurell K Hamilton, Patricia Briggs, Marjorie M Liu) the woman protagonist is typically the only women in the story, surrounded by love interests to tell her what a special snowflake she is. With Carey and her willingness to write lesbian and bisexual women, some of those love interests will ineivitably be women, and will help round out the gender balance of the story(though her Agent of Hel series already has a mom, bff, and "fairy godmother" so that helps too).
Alex Jeffers
18. AlexJeffers
Granted I'm not a lesbian myself but, working for a mostly GLBT/mostly SFF small press, I have a few reccos to offer. Not strictly romances, maybe, but I have found them comforting.

Promises, Promises: A Romp with Plenty of Dykes, a Unicorn, an Ogre, an Oracle, a Quest, a Princess, and True Love with a Happily Ever After by L-J Baker (Lethe Press 2011): just what the subtitle says.

Eat Your Heart Out by Dayna Ingram (BrazenHead/Lethe 2011): Lesbian zombie fighters. Not entirely serious.


I'd also point out Lethe's annual compilation of lesbian speculative short fiction, not all of which is deep and demanding, Heiresses of Russ. Brit Mandelo reviewed the 2011 and 2012 volumes here on Tor.com. 2013 is due in, I think, August.
William Carter
19. wcarter
@13 Jennygadget

I wouldn't make the argument that lack of interest is the reason for the derth of books, preceived lack of interest on the other hand...

The point I wanted to make was that enough people showing interest in a particular sub-genre will lead to the increase in size. And the reverse is also true. "The Hero's Journey" and "Boy meets girl" romances keeps getting written over and over and over again because people just keep buying them.

I don't think queer there are few great choices in queer and female centric SFF because there is a lack of interest, I think it's because people that are interested in them are also buying the more typical stories in additon to everyone else.

Writers at the end of the day need to make money, they may have a pet project that's actually much better than some of their published works that never sees the light of day simply becaue they (or their editors) don't think it will sell.

Prove them wrong by buying something similar that someone else was brave enough to publish, and more will come to light.
Chuk Goodin
20. Chuk
The Pitts books are great (urban fantasy really). I also really liked Melissa Scott's Trouble and her Friends but that is pretty old now, maybe everyone's already read it.
Cathy Pegau
21. Action Kate
I second the Gael Baudino rec. I loved her elf series and Gossamer Axe; while I loved the Dragonsword series when I first read it, there's too much war in it for me now. The Water! series is a fascinating writer's exercise but not a great trilogy.

Mercedes Lackey is more fantasy than sci-fi, but she has plenty of strong female characters and queer characters, women who are not defined by their love lives or lack thereof, women who run countries, women who run mercenary companies, goddesses who actually frown on being a dea ex machina. Very well written (although I confess the current trilogy set in the Collegium has gotten such poor reviews for being formulaic that I've skipped it) and lots of world-building without being too crunchy or political.
Cathy Pegau
22. Danika @ The Lesbrary
I have to second a couple of suggestions already given, including Fire Logic (I haven't read the sequels yet), Hellbore & Rue, and Eat Your Heart Out (hilarious).

For Fantasy:

Indigo Springs by A.M. Dellamonica. Although I didn’t like the sequel as much, I loved this book. The way magic functions in this book is very interesting, and I loved Astrid’s slow discovery of it and her tortured relationship with Sahara. Plus Astrid is bisexual!

The Narrows by m. craig. Unfortunately, there's a bunch of gay angst (the world has a sort of 50s America view of queerness), but I love the hipster Fantasy world, which combines coffee shops, bicycles, and home breweries with magicweaving and questers. Can't wait for the sequel.

For Sci Fi:

Tierra Del Fuego: Parting Shots by Caren Cro. This book has a huge cast of queer women, all of them interesting, and paints an intriguing world. I’m a big fan of enclosed narratives (trapped in finite space), so the spaceship setting appealed to me. Mostly it’s the strength of the characters that makes this book so successful, and I can’t wait for its sequels.
Cathy Pegau
23. Allison Moon
@JennyGadget
You might be interested in my books Lunatic Fringe & the forthcoming sequel Hungry Ghost. These books take place among a radical lesbian community at a liberal arts college.
Liz Bourke
24. hawkwing-lb
Cathy Pegau @1:

Nothing wrong with self-promotion, in moderate doses. Especially in an area as under-reported as lesbian SFFR.

Nicola Griffith is a goddess among writers. The Blue Place? Brilliant.

baywoof @3:

I confess to not having read Slow River yet. Looking forward to it, when Gollancz brings it out again next month.



shellywb @5:

I'm all for fun adventures. Appropriate amounts of angst, but can we just have more fun adventures starring women?

RobHanson @8:

The really sad thing about Gael Baudino, and the reason I've never read any of her books? All completely out of print, and not even around in ebooks. (People say to me, Baudino, and I say, but how? *g*) Alas.


Irene @9:

Thanks.


ActionKate @21:

Lackey's one of the authors who's yet - in any of the books I've read - to feature a central lesbian relationship, even though Vanyel was being heroically angstily gay all over the place back in the nineties. Plenty of women, background queer female relationships, but not yet a queer female protag. (Although correct me if I'm wrong.)


@Everyone:

Really happy to see recs and conversation in these comments. Really!
Cathy Pegau
25. SandraBarret
The handwavium comment gave me a good laugh, and yes, guilty as charged :-). I'll work on improving that in my next SF book! Thanks for the honorable mention, and want to add my recommendations for Mark's Elemental series and for Baker's books. Both authors produce enjoyable reads.
Cathy Pegau
26. C.A. Casey
If you want good space opera, check out the Far Seek Chronicles by Andi Marquette. The first two books are Friends in High Places and A Matter of Blood. The third book in the series is coming out this year. Very well written and entertaining.
Liz Bourke
27. hawkwing-lb
SandraBarret @25:

Handwavium is an ancient and honourable tradition. :)

C.A. Casey @26:

More recommendations! Wonderful!
Cathy Pegau
28. Mai
@wayfaringpanda I was trying to decide if I wanted to mention Black Blade Blues. I was so excited when I heard the concept (Lesbians and Norse mythology are two of my favourite things) and was just really disappointed with the story. Hopefully the 2nd book improved, I haven't gotten over my disappointment enough to check it out yet.

Thanks for this list. I've read some and can't wait to read more. I remember in high-school reading plenty of stories with gay male leads and some lesbian background characters and always being so sad it wasn't the opposite.
Cathy Pegau
29. Blacksmith_tb
More votes for Nicola Griffith - not that they are exactly romance novels. Both Ammonite and Slow River are fairly unsettling, Slow River especially. Both are great, though. She seems to be writing thrillers these days, but maybe we can motivate her to come back to SF fold...
Cathy Pegau
30. Bluecat
For those looking for Gael Baudino's books--they're available used for very reasonable prices from Amazon.com, half.com and very likely other sellers of used books. I read them years ago and enjoyed them.
Cathy Pegau
31. Muccamukk
Seconding Indigo Springs by A.M. Dellamonica, though I haven't read the second one yet, the first was fantastic. She has also written a fabulous short story about lesbians in Vancouver, and werewolves. The Cage, I think. Published on TOR, actually.

Was reading an enjoyable dystopic steampunk adventure called The Gunfighter and the Gearhead by Cassandra Duffy (I think) but left off when it got sidetracked into an odd threesome with sex workers trying to take over the world and something something I don't even know. I just wanted them to get back to fighting aliens. I do plan to finish it someday.
Irene Gallo
32. Irene
Oh! Since you mention “The Cage”, I’m going to link to it here. It’s been an in-house favorite since it was published.

Aroo!
Cathy Pegau
33. Salabra
"I want there to be more stories with queer female protagonists, and more where queerness and femaleness are both unmarked states. The unmarked state part is important to me: representations are important, and being represented as normal, natural, without need for justification: that’s a balm, so it is."

Thanks, lb - you've expressed what I've always wanted!
Cathy Pegau
34. mectech
In case it wasn't clear from upthread, J.A. Pitts' Black Blade Blues is the first volume of a now-completed urban fantasy trilogy, which I quite enjoyed, though I've yet to dip into Mount TBR for the sequels. The final volume, Forged in Fire, was released from Tor in 2012 for the USAnians; I apologize for my ignorance of its worldwide availability. I would especially like to praise John for doing a pretty reasonable job of depicting the behind-the-scenes world of micro-budget (SFF) film in contemporary Puget Sound. One of the better jobs I've seen from any author who (as far as I know) lacks personal experience in working backstage for a (non-)living.
Cathy Pegau
35. Wendy W Durden
I third the rec on Gael Baudino. I have read everything of hers I could get my hands on, and had to repurchase "GOSSAMER AXE" as I lent it out and never got it back! I love her stuff because it is so well written, the characters were rounded and so what about their sexual orientation? It was the STORY that was so good. The lesbian aspect was central but not the point. (And it was a LOVE story) And I think that is where you are going: great story where the protagonist is a lesbian but that's not what it's about. So we cover some of the relationship stuff, so what? If it's well written, it's worth reading. Sexuality should be a sidebar not the whole of the story if it's to be a good SF/F read. Hopefully more writers will tell good stories, that just happen to have lesbian characters in it. And the niche will expand.
Heather Massey
36. sfrgalaxy
Great post! I would love, love, love to read more in this genre, lesbian SFR in particular. I second the vote for Cathy Pegau's Rulebreaker. A few other titles:

War Games by KS Augustin (military SF; explores the politics of a forbidden romance on several levels)

Steam-Powered: Lesbian Steampunk Stories (JoSelle Vanderhooft, Editor; not all have a romance, but some do. I particularly liked N.K. Jemisin's "The Effluent Engine")

Adventuresses by Angelia Sparrow (a collection of her lesbian SF/F shorts, many with romance; very eclectic mix of stories)

I also just scored a copy of Gabriel Belthir's Lily of the Wastelands (post-apocalyptic; Storm Moon Press) . Haven't read it yet but it looks interesting.

I'm looking forward to checking out some of the titles mentioned here.

Please, publishers, find a way to market these stories!
Liz Bourke
37. hawkwing-lb
Muccamukk @31:

Dellamonica's Indigo Springs is on my TBR stack. So many books, so little time. It's a constant cry. But the amount of recommendations for her stuff bodes well!

The Duffy sounds strange and also potentially wonderful.

Irene @32:

You have my second set of grateful thanks of this comment thread! (I'd managed to miss "The Cage" when it first went up, somehow...)


Salabra @33:

You're welcome. ;)


mectech @34:

I've read Pitts' three books. I'm not really enthusiastic about them, because while Sarah's a potentially great character, there's a lot of self-loathing in the first book. And any book that causes me to want to kick its protag into some *sense* is not one I'm really comfortable with - but different strokes, etc.

Wendy W Durden @35:

To be honest, the sexualities of characters are very much more than a sidebar to me. The presence or absence of queerness in a book makes a difference in how satisfied I am with the world of the story - and considering the low, low rates of queer women who get to be main characters, I think it's a mistake hoping for things to "just happen." Things "just happen" because people get out to push for them to happen, I think.

That said, good stories are very important. *g*

sfrgalaxy @36:

More recommendations! Wonderful!
Cathy Pegau
38. Widdershins
More completely unabashed self-promotion:

You might want to try mine - not a male pronoun in sight!
'Mortal Instinct' is published by Eternal Press.

Here's the URL for it on Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/Mortal-Instinct-Widdershins/dp/1615724583

... or check out the 'Mortal Instinct' page on my blog: http:// widdershinsfirst.com
Cathy Pegau
39. bussyr
When Women Were Warriors by Catherine M. Wilson

It has unusual settings. The story is set in a world in the Iron Age. There are no references to writing, only oral traditions. And women and men are warriors with equal skills but it's the women who are the leaders.

The trilogy follows the "destiny" of a young girl, it's a refreshing tale of coming of age as the heroin grows and revolves the world whe lives in which doesn't seem to be larger than New York State.
Jenny Kristine
40. jennygadget
AllisonMoon @23:

Thanks! I will definitely check them out. :)

Wendy W Durden @35:

I'm with Liz on this one. Possibly this is because I am on the lookout for such stories not just for myself, but also because I am a teen and children's librarian. I want stories where the characters "just happen" to be lesbians, but I also want stories where romance and genre elements are blended and both take center stage.

Romance tends to be a huge part of the majority of teen novels. So when queerness is only mentioned in novels that focus specifically on queer romance, and when genre fiction always sidelines (or more often disappears) queer romance in a way that doesn't happen to hetero romances, it sets up the idea that queerness is considered outside the bounds of normalcy.

Also, I want these stories not just because they are inclusive of queer girls (which is reason enough by itself!) but also for the same reason I suspect they are so rare in teen fiction: they can't avoid focusing on teen girls as people who experience sexual desire, versus people who are lusted after by others. I suspect the lack of lesbian characters in teen fiction in particular is tied to the larger issue of our culture being very uncomfortable with the idea of teen girls being sexual. The concerns of parents still influence on what kinds of stories get published/shelved/bought and which don't, and these fears mean that what does get published/shelved/bought is often very heteronormative.

@wcarter

This is why sentiments along the lines of "if you buy it they will build it it" annoy me so much. That's not really how the teen fiction market in particular works, because even when it is the teens doing the purchasing, their choices are often greatly influenced by what it is safe to be seen reading. What teens read is not always what they buy, especially when it comes to certain topics. This is especially true when it comes to queer teens; it's safer to be out of the closet that it used to be, but that's hardly an absolute.

And on that note - since everyone has been so awesome with the suggestions! does anyone know of any teen genre novels that include lesbian relationships? Malinda Lo's novels are the only ones that I know of; I have one of hers on order for my library, and will likely get the others depending on how that one checks out, but I would love to be able to get more books by other authors (as money permits).
Cathy Pegau
42. Carolm
Nicola Griffith's SF is excellent. I want her to write more SF. I like her Blue series, but the SF is what makes me happy. And I'll read about anything with women as the main characters.

Karin Kallmaker writing sometimes as Laura Adams. Not my favorite, but an easy read.
Christabel
Night Vision
The Dawning
Tunnel of Light 1: Sleight of Hand
Tunnel of Light 2: Seeds of Fire

Daughters of the Great Star by Diana Rivers

And of course Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover novels
The Shattered Chain
Thendara House
City of Sorcery

The Chronicles of Heaven's War: Sisters of the Bloodwind by Ava D. Dohn
Cathy Pegau
43. I_Sell_Books
Add another 'Yes' for Nicola Griffiths and other authors such as Melissa...*brain fart*...and Elizabeth A Lynn, Jessica Amanda Salmonson, etc. I wish there were more Lesbian Romance SF/F, because I would totally order it for the store.
Cathy Pegau
44. Kaz Augustin
Thanks for the mention, Heather! What would I do without you? :)
Cathy Pegau
45. Julie D
http://www.glbtfantasy.com/

Tons of good recomendations. Not all of them female. But I thought the reviews were honest.
Cathy Pegau
46. Shadow Crystal Mage
Maybe its the medium, but lesbian main characters and secondary characters have been a staple of anime and manga for years. Vandread, for example, is a nice space opera with mostly all female characters and only 3 males, and maybe 1 transvestite.

And then there's Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS, which despite its name is a sacrifice mil
Cathy Pegau
47. Shadow Crystal Mage
And then there's Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS, which despite its name is military fiction with a mostly lesbian cast and a token male.
Cathy Pegau
48. MicheleFogal
VERY excited to see this post! Awesome!

I would encourage all bloggers to write similar articles and requests - this too can demonstrate to publishers that there IS a market for work that at this point is hard for writers to make money on.

I predict that there will be a Gateway Book that will break this market open. A book that straight women will read, that men will read, that will create a huge buzz, much like what 50 Shades of Gray did for BDSM. A book that allows any person to imagine a way into a world that has seemed foreign, impossible and dangerous before. That book will open the flood gates, and publishers will start searching out the greats. God knows I'd love to write that book, but that burning desire aside, I'd love to read it and buy it for all my friends and demostrate the demand.
Cathy Pegau
49. Cally
Thank you! These are exactly the kind of novels I need to fill up my in-between essays procrastination time. I wonder why it is so difficult to find non-sexist non-stereotyping SF. I mean, if I were to write about the future, I'd like to be optimistic about humankind's efforts at gender and class equality!
Cathy Pegau
51. Susan Gabriel
Great post. According to folks I spoke with at Google, the public domain works will be available as full text. Also, the Registry gets no money from public domain works, so they will have no incentive to change that arrangement.lesbian romance novels

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