The Future Is Queer: A Science Fiction Anthology

~edited by Richard Labonté and Lawrence Schimel
2007 Independent Publisher Book Award Winner, Silver

I was very excited when my book club announced a science fiction title for our next read. Normally the club tends toward "literary" fiction with an occasional non-fiction book thrown in for good measure. Being a speculative fiction fan, I was thrilled one of my favorite genres was getting a turn as well. At first glance, The Future is Queer seemed to be a decent choice. The anthology features some fairly recognizable (and award winning) names in SF and queer literature: L. Timmel Duchamp, Candas Jane Dorsey, and even Neil Gaiman, among others. I was looking forward to reading it.

Richard Labonté and Lawrence Schimel are both probably most well known for their work as editors for anthologies. They each wrote their own introduction to the book. While both introductions were strong, Labonté's "My Love Affair with Queer Boys, Gay Lit, and Science Fiction" was particularly good. The anthology's initial theme was to be queer inspired "near-future, social science fiction, depicting plausible, possible realities" although this was eventually expanded to included "future-based fantasy." If I was excited about this book before (and I was), I was even more so after reading the introductions. Unfortunately, the collection didn't quite meet my expectations.

I did appreciate the wide variety of stories that the editors included; it's particularly impressive as there were only six short stories, an even shorter comic, and a novella. Most of the stories had at least a glimmer of something that spoke to or interested me, but ultimately didn't do much for me. The comic, "From Homogenous to Honey," that Neil Gaiman (a favorite of mine) collaborated on with Bryan Talbot was particularly disappointing. I love the fact that comics are appearing more frequently in anthologies, but this one, while not bad, was nothing special. The strongest story was also the last one--"The Beatrix Gates" by Rachel Pollack. (I knew Pollack as a tarot expert; I had no idea that she was an award-winning fiction writer as well, so that was pretty cool.) As for the rest of the contributions, I generally enjoyed the underlying concepts more than the stories themselves. However, this was often enough to interest me in the authors' other works.

While not a horrible anthology, The Future is Queer wasn't fantastic either. Short story collections seem to be a tricky format to work in, and it probably didn't help that the last couple I read (Dreams Underfoot, Sex in the System) were particularly well done. I might not insist everyone drop everything to go read a copy of The Future is Queer, but there is enough in it that if it happens your way it might not be amiss to glance through it.

Works included: "Introduction: My Love Affair with Queer Boys, Gay Lit, and Science Fiction" by Richard Labonté; "Introduction: Looking in All Directions" by Lawrence Schimel; "Obscure Relations" by L. Timel Duchamp; "Instinct" by Joy Parks; "The Chosen Few" by Caro Soles; "...the darkest evening of the year..." by Candas Jane Dorsey; "From Homogenous to Honey" by Neil Gaiman and Bryan Talbot; "My Long Ago Sophia" by Diana Churchill; "The Sleep Clinic for Troubled Souls" by Hiromi Goto; "The Beatrix Gates" by Rachel Pollack.

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