Queering SFF

Queering SFF: Icarus, the Magazine of Gay Speculative Fiction

Running into a queer story in an SFF anthology, magazine or website is always a nice treat, but it’s no guarantee, and it’s usually a pleasant surprise instead of something I expect. So, naturally, I was thrilled to discover some while ago that Lethe Press—publishers of fine queer spec-fic from writers like Sandra MacDonald and Tanith Lee, among others—also produces a quarterly magazine, Icarus, edited by Steve Berman and Craig L. Gidney. (Also on staff: Alex Jeffers, Toby Johnson, and Dan Kravitz.)

Icarus is a magazine devoted to gay speculative fiction and the people who write it. Each issue runs stories, poetry, interviews, news and tidbits; it has included work and interviews from people like Lynn Flewelling, Hal Duncan, Lee Thomas, Geoff Ryman, and Tanith Lee. The magazine is available in a big, glossy print edition or a cheaper and still pretty electronic edition. The newest issue, Winter 2010, was just released.

Charles Tan wrote about the first issue of Icarus on his blog when it came out, memorably saying things like “…But here’s the clincher for me: I’m a straight guy and all three stories included in the magazine are quite solid—more than capable of standing toe-to-toe with the fiction in other genre publications. They’re definitely worth a look regardless of whether you’re a fan of gay fiction or not.”

I’d agree with Tan’s assessment. While the magazine features plenty of fiction from familiar authors who write for Lethe Press already, it’s not limited to them. (Additionally, as Tan also says, it’s a bit of chicken-and-egg question: since Lethe publishes so much queer spec-fic, should it be surprising that many writers of gay speculative fiction have also been published by Lethe in addition to Icarus magazine?) The nonfiction offerings and interviews are also engaging.

Icarus is one of a kind, a speculative fiction magazine that is about gay fiction by authors of all stripes: men, women, straight or queer. It has an interesting spread of fiction in every issue and I personally think it’s worth checking out—more magazines like this are good for the SFF community. More diversity is always a good thing.

I asked the magazine’s editors to give a few words about why they do Icarus and why they think you should give it a try.

From Craig Gidney: “Not to be too dramatic, but gay speculative fiction saved my life. In reading works by Delany and Storm Constantine and Maureen McHugh, I saw people struggling with the same things I was. I am proud to be a part of a project that will introduce queer voices to our dreams of the future and our fantasies.”

Steve Berman gave me a more humorous list of 10 reasons he does Icarus:

“10. To annoy the American Astronomical Society’s Division for Planetary Sciences, who thought they were the only one with dibs on the name.

9. Because the 700 Club promised that many lifetime subscribers.

8. Lady Gaga’s costumers thought the slick pages would make a dandy brassiere.

7. As a present from Joe Haldeman to Sen. John McCain to celebrate the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

6. Simon Weisenthal wanted us to name it after Unternehmen Ikarus because it might lure out Hitler’s clone.

5. By publishing author photos, I could see which writers are hot.

4. The new breed of parakeets developed by San Francisco geneticists demand gay magazines at the bottom of their cages.

3. Hal Duncan ran out of space on the internet.

2. The hanky code will be the next big thing in steampunk.

1. Where else would Orscon Scott Card send his Supernatural fanfic?”

That’s pretty convincing, isn’t it? Check out the newest issue for a taste, and see how you enjoy Icarus, the magazine of gay speculative fiction. It’s got a thumbs-up from Queering SFF.

Brit 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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