Queering SFF

Queering SFF: Best of 2010

With 2010 drawing to a close and “best-of” TOCs popping up all over the internet, I think it’s the perfect time to do an end of the year roundup on Queering SFF. This series began in March and has been a great deal of fun so far. We’ve done interviews, talked about social issues and how to write better queer characters, and of course, reviewed books new and old. I’ve tried to keep a mix of older and newer releases in the reviews, which means we’ve talked about several books that came out in 2010.

Big and small presses made a good showing this year in LGBTQ spec-fic: everything from dragon-slaying urban fantasy to the weird, weird west and beyond. On the other hand, I can’t read all the books in the world, and I’m sure I’ve missed a few gems—so I’d like your input, too.

I’ve reviewed a few 2010 releases in this series, like:

There are also other books that I didn’t have a chance to review (or in some cases, read at all), like The White Road by Lynn Flewelling, Naamah’s Curse by Jacqueline Carey, Nights of Villjamur by Mark Charan Newton, Diana Comet and Other Improbable Stories by Sandra McDonald, The Poison Eaters and Other Stories by Holly Black (which has a few stories in it with queer characters), and others.

That list hardly looks long enough. I know there must be others. There seems to be an especial dearth of horror fiction; that’s probably because I’ve barely read any horror this year. Please fill me in on what I’ve missed!

As for my favorite, it’s a hard choice. Each of the books I reviewed this year had special strengths and dealt with different topics, and of the books I didn’t have a chance to review, a few also stood out to me. Diana Comet is a fun and strange linked bunch of stories, a format I always enjoy, and Holly Black’s YA short story collection takes turns between creepy and amusing at breakneck speed. Her handling of young queer characters is engaging and witty. I have yet to read The White Road. (I do intend to at some point.) The other offerings did little to impress me, but someone else might see them differently.

Since I have to make a decision, though: out of the LGBTQ books I’ve read from 2010, my favorite is Black Blade Blues by J. A. Pitts. This is because the book is not only a romping urban fantasy that speeds through its story and rarely loses tension, it also deals with issues of identity, self-acceptance, and homophobia—even the kind that a queer person might internalize after a lifetime of emotional abuse. It’s the kind of book I wish I’d had as a young woman. The main character is sympathetic and engaging, her struggles are believable and well-rounded, and I was truly rooting for her by the end of the story. Plus, she’s a physically strong woman with a body to match, and you don’t see that often in urban fantasy.

A Book of Tongues came in close second for its sheer drama and lyrical, gorgeous prose—Files hooks the reader, hard, and never lets go. The setting and magical mechanics are fantastic, too. I love the Weird West.

For short fiction, it was tough to choose, but I suspect I’ll go with Wilde Stories 2010 over Diana Comet. To be honest I’d like to just give them a tie. Both were great reads.

I’d like to thank the readers of Queering SFF for providing excellent discussions, commentary and suggestions throughout the year. You folks are awesome. I hope we keep having a good time talking about books for a long while to come.

And now, it’s your turn: what 2010 queer SFF books slipped my radar? What were your favorites? (Feel free to drop in any constructive criticism or tell me what your favorite posts were, too.)

Lee Mandelo is a multi-fandom geek with a special love for comics and queer literature. She can be found on Twitter and Livejournal.


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