Tamsyn Muir’s Locked Tomb series is the most unequivocally sapphic science-fiction series I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. It is also a series in which—thus far in the books’ publication—the primary lesbian love interests have yet to even kiss.
The Locked Tomb is currently comprised of Gideon the Ninth and its sequel Harrow the Ninth, with Nona the Ninth publishing on September 13, 2022, and another unpublished installment set for release in the fall of 2023. The story follows the adventures of Gideon Nav and Harrowhark Nonagesiums. Gideon and Harrow both belong to the Ninth House, a cult of necromantic priests tasked with guarding the tomb where the greatest enemy of God lays buried. Harrow is the Ninth House’s heir while Gideon is an indentured servant, and the two women hate each other with a passion. Gideon the Ninth begins when Harrow is invited to attempt a series of trials required to become one of God’s Lyctors. These trials require a cavalier—a non-necromantic bodyguard—to participate. As the only competent sword-wielder available from the Ninth House, Gideon finds herself forced to act as Harrow’s cavalier.
The Locked Tomb is, in the author’s own words, “quite chaste.” Sex, on the rare occasions it makes an appearance, is often more comedic than dramatic. The books offer their readers a wealth of dirty jokes; a protagonist with a taste for pornographic magazines; and even a threesome between God and two of his saints. Yet, any sincere expressions of romance or desire are left to bubble as tensions in the background for the most part. While this approach to sapphic sci-fi is sure to disappoint some readers looking for more overtly romantic plotlines, I personally can’t get enough of it. Rather than relying on romance to construct the sexuality of her characters, Muir employs a kind of stylistic characterization which I can only describe as “dyke camp.”