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Beyond Binary: Genderqueer and Sexually Fluid Speculative Fiction

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Speculative fiction is the literature of questions, of challenges and imagination, and what better to question than the ways in which gender and sexuality have been rigidly defined, partitioned off, put in little boxes? These seventeen stories explore the ways in which identity can go beyond binary from space colonies to small college towns, from angels to androids, and fr Speculative fiction is the literature of questions, of challenges and imagination, and what better to question than the ways in which gender and sexuality have been rigidly defined, partitioned off, put in little boxes? These seventeen stories explore the ways in which identity can go beyond binary from space colonies to small college towns, from angels to androids, and from a magical past to other worlds entirely, the authors in this collection have brought to life wonderful tales starring people who proudly define (and redefine) their own genders, sexualities, identities, and so much else in between.


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Speculative fiction is the literature of questions, of challenges and imagination, and what better to question than the ways in which gender and sexuality have been rigidly defined, partitioned off, put in little boxes? These seventeen stories explore the ways in which identity can go beyond binary from space colonies to small college towns, from angels to androids, and fr Speculative fiction is the literature of questions, of challenges and imagination, and what better to question than the ways in which gender and sexuality have been rigidly defined, partitioned off, put in little boxes? These seventeen stories explore the ways in which identity can go beyond binary from space colonies to small college towns, from angels to androids, and from a magical past to other worlds entirely, the authors in this collection have brought to life wonderful tales starring people who proudly define (and redefine) their own genders, sexualities, identities, and so much else in between.

30 review for Beyond Binary: Genderqueer and Sexually Fluid Speculative Fiction

  1. 5 out of 5

    ambyr

    Is expecting a book subtitled "Genderqueer and Sexually Fluid Speculative Fiction" to provide speculative fiction stories about genderqueer characters too much to ask for? Apparently so, if this collection is any indication. It's not that I didn't enjoy any of the stories. It's that almost none of them lived up to the book's label. (Bisexuality is not the same thing as sexual fluidity. Being transgendered is different from being genderqueer.) This is particularly frustrating because this is a co Is expecting a book subtitled "Genderqueer and Sexually Fluid Speculative Fiction" to provide speculative fiction stories about genderqueer characters too much to ask for? Apparently so, if this collection is any indication. It's not that I didn't enjoy any of the stories. It's that almost none of them lived up to the book's label. (Bisexuality is not the same thing as sexual fluidity. Being transgendered is different from being genderqueer.) This is particularly frustrating because this is a collection of reprints hand-picked by the editor. Surely there are others she could have picked instead? How about something of LeGuin's, to start? I was going to go through all of them, but honestly, I don't have much to say about most beyond "meh." I enjoyed "Sea of Cortez" as a solid atmospheric romance about a transwoman serving in the U.S. Navy during WWII, but it had no speculative content--a poor opener for the collection, or perhaps an accurate herald of what was to come. "Fisherman" was a strong piece of erotica with an interesting voice but, again, no speculative content. "A Wild and Wicked Youth" worked for me because I'm familiar with the characters from Kushner's novels, but I suspect it would fail as a stand-alone piece, and it lacks any genderqueer content. "Prosperine When it Sizzles" was enjoyable science fiction, but it handled its aliens in a way unpleasantly reinforcing of gender binaries. (In general, I was baffled that a collection of genderqueer speculative fiction featured not a single story about multi-gendered aliens. It seems an obvious place to go. The editor apparently choose to privilege more "realistic" stories, but--the strength of speculative fiction is the way it can make us rethink our society from the outside by showing us societies utterly alien to us, the tools it has that can serve as metaphor. Why waste that toolkit?) I like the language and world in "Palimpsest"--I think Valente is at her best in short stories--but, again, there's nothing here I would consider genderqueer. "Bonehouse" was solid cyberpunk, but--are you sensing a theme? "Sex with Ghosts" was a fun twist on sexbots (a trope I thought was worn to the bone) and one of the few fictional treatments of asexuality I've encountered that hasn't felt overly preachy to me, but--yeah, that again. "The Metamorphosis Bud" was possibly the only genderswap story I've read where the character's first thought on waking up with an unexpected set of genitals was not "Oh no!" or "Huh, I wonder what sex is like" but "Cool, I've always wondered what it's like to pee as a dude" which was...a little odd to plot an entire story around, but worked out surprisingly charmingly. I have nothing positive to say about the other stories, so I think I'll stop here. Not recommended.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Beans

    For a book called "Beyond Binary," this book was ... really binary. There were two or three stories where the narrator or main character is not assigned a gender but most are either male or female - and often it's not a particularly large component of the story if the character identifies or is identified as trans* in any way. Beyond that, I wasn't particularly impressed with any of the stories. There were a handful I enjoyed but none that really stood out to me. It was kind of a struggle to kee For a book called "Beyond Binary," this book was ... really binary. There were two or three stories where the narrator or main character is not assigned a gender but most are either male or female - and often it's not a particularly large component of the story if the character identifies or is identified as trans* in any way. Beyond that, I wasn't particularly impressed with any of the stories. There were a handful I enjoyed but none that really stood out to me. It was kind of a struggle to keep reading this but I kept hoping that I'd come across a story that would make it worth it. That didn't really happen, unfortunately. Ultimately I was pretty disappointed with this anthology.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    My flight back from Readercon was delayed by several hours, so I got to read this anthology cover to cover. I usually prefer to break up the reading of a themed anthology, but there was enough variety in this one to keep me engaged. I particularly liked the Kelley Eskridge story. I would have loved to see even more variety, both in the types of speculative fiction and in the expected breadth inherent in the "beyond binary" label. Still, taken individually, most of these stories are strong; taken My flight back from Readercon was delayed by several hours, so I got to read this anthology cover to cover. I usually prefer to break up the reading of a themed anthology, but there was enough variety in this one to keep me engaged. I particularly liked the Kelley Eskridge story. I would have loved to see even more variety, both in the types of speculative fiction and in the expected breadth inherent in the "beyond binary" label. Still, taken individually, most of these stories are strong; taken as a whole, this is a bold compilation and a great challenge to the sf status quo.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Sally

    Brit Mandelo is something of a queer genre celebrity, having served as the senior fiction editor for Strange Horizons Magazine, while also leading the discussions on Queering SFF for Tor Books. It was actually an early piece of her on Tiptree Award Winners that first brought her to my attention, and I’ve been relying on her to expand my bookshelf ever since. Beyond Binary is a collection of previously published Genderqueer and Sexually Fluid Speculative Fiction stories that I'd been looking forwa Brit Mandelo is something of a queer genre celebrity, having served as the senior fiction editor for Strange Horizons Magazine, while also leading the discussions on Queering SFF for Tor Books. It was actually an early piece of her on Tiptree Award Winners that first brought her to my attention, and I’ve been relying on her to expand my bookshelf ever since. Beyond Binary is a collection of previously published Genderqueer and Sexually Fluid Speculative Fiction stories that I'd been looking forward to for quite some time. While I found it a bit of a stretch to tag some of the pieces as speculative fiction, and was disappointed in the extent to which some of the authors attempted to queer the concept of gender, it’s still an interesting collection. Nalo Hopkinson's “Fisherman”' was definite highlight of the collection for me. In keeping with the sense of oral storytelling that permeates her novels, the story presents us with a languid revelation of gender, and a remarkably sincere exploration of sexuality. The relationship that develops within the pages is a delight to experience, presenting us with an understanding whore who politely respects her client's chosen gender, while smartly accommodating his birth gender in their intimacies. Ellen Kushner's "A Wild and Wicked Youth" was another strong addition to the collection, a longer story about very personal expressions of gender, and some unusual expressions of sexuality. It’s not quite the mannerpunk sensibility of her Swordspoint novels, but it’s close. If you never thought fighting could be sexy, or that enjoying the thrill of victory could be orgasmic, then you need to read this. Very clever, and very well-done. Sonya Taaffe's "Another Coming" was a beautifully written piece from an author who is new to me. Full of haunting imagery, it only strains the gender binary with one of its relationships, and it's never satisfactorily explained how it could work. All in all, a lovely bisexual romance, but not necessarily something I’d classify as genderqueer. Sarah Kanning's "Sex with Ghosts" was another favourite of mine, from an author I’d certainly like to read more of. Her tale features a robot sex worker with a flair for English poetry. Deeper and more intellectual than the concept might have you suspect, this definitely played into my love for authors like D.B. Story who explore gender and sexuality through those artificial constructs who deliberately exist outside the binary. Keyan Bowes' "Spoiling Veena" lacked something in the storytelling that would have elevated it to favourite status, which is a shame because the subject matter was so compelling. Bowes explores a future in which parents can choose their child's gender, and looks at how things can develop when your child doesn't like the choice you made. It’s not the best flowing story in the collection, but one of the smartest. Liu Wen Zhuang's "The Metamorphosis Bud" is one of the oddest stories in the collection, but an interesting read. We've all had fantasies about waking up with something new in the way of sexual equipment, but I doubt any of us would handle it quite as wonderfully as the old woman who wakes up with a penis. Overall, it’s not quite as breathtaking a collection as I had hoped for, it still offers a good mix of stories, genders, and sexualities with which to draw in readers and maybe, possibly hopefully introduce them to something new. I can certainly think of some stories that I would have included in place of some of the material here, but there are definitely some stellar entries that make this worth a read, especially if you're new to the stories. As published on Frock Magazine

  5. 5 out of 5

    Cow

    I was so excited when I first read about this book and the early reviews. But no. There are a few good pieces in here. "Eye of the Storm" by Kelley Eskridge was both amazing and mind-blowing, and made up for so much of the rest of this book. But at that point, you should probably just pick up her own personal anthology, Dangerous Space. A few of the stories toward the end were good, too, although none super stand-out. Aside from the one story above, the best thing I can say is that most of these ar I was so excited when I first read about this book and the early reviews. But no. There are a few good pieces in here. "Eye of the Storm" by Kelley Eskridge was both amazing and mind-blowing, and made up for so much of the rest of this book. But at that point, you should probably just pick up her own personal anthology, Dangerous Space. A few of the stories toward the end were good, too, although none super stand-out. Aside from the one story above, the best thing I can say is that most of these are less-well-known authors, and this gives them a chance to shine. (Cat Valente aside, who is both more well known and still completely unreadable--the longest ten pages in this anthology.) My main complaint is that, for a book trying to challenge ~the binary~, all the stories were almost entirely binary. Apparently being bisexual is enough to be CHALLENGING THE BINARY. No, it really isn't. And there were maybe two or three actually genderqueer characters in the entire anthology. what? And finally, for an anthology that, in its introduction, promised none of the ~painful big reveal~ stereotype, it contains a story which does exactly that in the most ugly of ways. Such a disappointment from something with so much potential.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kaa

    I really wanted to like this, because the title describes a book that I would probably love. Sadly, the actual book doesn't live up to its billing. Most troublingly, it doesn't seem to understand what genderqueer means. As other reviewers have pointed out, there are not actually many genderqueer characters here. The editor doesn't seem to have understood that genderqueer is a gender identity . It has nothing to do with what anatomy a person does or does not have. Almost all of the transgender I really wanted to like this, because the title describes a book that I would probably love. Sadly, the actual book doesn't live up to its billing. Most troublingly, it doesn't seem to understand what genderqueer means. As other reviewers have pointed out, there are not actually many genderqueer characters here. The editor doesn't seem to have understood that genderqueer is a gender identity . It has nothing to do with what anatomy a person does or does not have. Almost all of the transgender characters in these stories were binary trans people, who identified as either men or women, and not all of these stories navigate even this very well. The amount of actual speculative content varies from story to story, but in many of the pieces is very minimal. There are some decent stories about bi/pan characters, but very few that I would say actually explore the topic of sexual fluidity. Worse, there are several where it is not clear to me that the character actually experiences a shift in their attraction or attraction to multiple genders. Which is fine, but cis monosexual queer people are not actually part of the book's supposed theme. There were a few stories I thought were great: I've read both "Sea of Cortez" and "Fisherman" before, and enjoyed them a lot (both are only barely sff, but the protagonist of "Fisherman" is one of the only characters in the book who may actually be genderqueer). "Eye of the Storm" was fantastic, and was one of the only stories that explored sexuality in a way I found meaningful and interesting. And "Self-Reflection" was fabulous as well. There were a couple others that worked for me, but which I thought were inappropriate for this anthology. I was excited to read "A Wild and a Wicked Youth" because it was a Richard St. Vier story I hadn't encountered before, but I really don't think it stands well on its own for those who aren't familiar with Swordspoint. And I liked "The Metamorphosis Bud" as a story, but a cis woman growing a penis has nothing to do with being genderqueer. Several more weren't all that great for me as a reader, but didn't have any big problems either. However, there were a handful of stories that I had particular issues with: -although the editor promises no "surprise trans reveal" stories, one does show up - (details and the name of the story under spoilers) (view spoiler)[the story was "The Cony-Catcher" by Delia Sherman, in which the prospective lover is revealed as trans during a sexual encounter and at a moment when the protagonist is not able to say no to their partner. And then the partner apologizes for not revealing that they are trans. Yuck. (hide spoiler)] -"Prosperine When It Sizzles" - (view spoiler)[this story extended the "woman dressed as a man" trope in a way that seemed to really reinforce some binary ideas about gender and to misunderstand the relationship between gender and anatomy. (hide spoiler)] -"Sex With Ghosts" - I have seen some asexual reviews with positive comments about the ace rep in this story, so I am not going to comment on that. However, I felt really disturbed by this story and think it at least deserves some warnings. (view spoiler)[An asexual character's likeness is used without her consent as the model for a sex doll. The story raised a lot of feelings of violation for me, so that I was unable to appreciate any interesting ideas it may have also brought up. (hide spoiler)] -"Spoiling Veena" - I was really uncomfortable both with the author's implication that allowing children to go through gender transition as they wish reinforces gender binaries (and that this is necessarily *medical* transition), and the way they imposed this on Indian culture, since the author seems to be a white person living in the U.S. The story's ending wasn't terrible, but I don't think it countered some of the icky narratives that were brought up.

  7. 4 out of 5

    A.C. Wise

    Beyond Binary is an incredibly strong reprint anthology, showcasing tales of fluid gender and sexuality. Of the stories I'd read elsewhere, the two stand-outs were Kelly Eskridge's Eye of the Storm and Catherynne M. Valente's Palimpsest. I was delighted to see both included, particularly Eskridge's piece, as it has lingered with me since I first read it years ago, and it perfectly encapsulates the theme of the collection. The stories which were new to me that really stood out were Nalo Hopkinson Beyond Binary is an incredibly strong reprint anthology, showcasing tales of fluid gender and sexuality. Of the stories I'd read elsewhere, the two stand-outs were Kelly Eskridge's Eye of the Storm and Catherynne M. Valente's Palimpsest. I was delighted to see both included, particularly Eskridge's piece, as it has lingered with me since I first read it years ago, and it perfectly encapsulates the theme of the collection. The stories which were new to me that really stood out were Nalo Hopkinson's Fisherman, Sonya Taaffe's Another Coming, and Schrodinger's Pussy by Terra LeMay. I also really enjoyed Bleaker College Presents an All Female Production of Waiting for Godot by Claire Humphrey, The Ghost Party by Richard Larson, and Bonehouse by Keffy R.M. Kerhli. Because the anthology was so well-done overall, I found myself judging it more harshly. The stories that didn't seem to entirely fit the theme, or weren't as strong in other ways, were all the more disappointing when compared to the stories that hit every note perfectly. That said, even those stories that didn't work as well for me personally still have a lot to recommend them, and the anthology is among my favorite reads of the year.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Max

    Well, that was overwhelmingly binary. When an anthology is subtitled "Genderqueer and Sexually Fluid Speculative Fiction", I'm naturally going to go in assuming a fair number of the stories will be about genderqueer or otherwise nonbinary people, you know? But the vast majority of these stories were either about cisgender queer people (including cisgender queer people whose narratives gave no hint of them being actually sexually fluid) or about binary trans* people. And don't get me wrong, I love Well, that was overwhelmingly binary. When an anthology is subtitled "Genderqueer and Sexually Fluid Speculative Fiction", I'm naturally going to go in assuming a fair number of the stories will be about genderqueer or otherwise nonbinary people, you know? But the vast majority of these stories were either about cisgender queer people (including cisgender queer people whose narratives gave no hint of them being actually sexually fluid) or about binary trans* people. And don't get me wrong, I love reading about binary trans* people, but when I seek out a book specifically to get stories about genderqueer characters, that isn't exactly what I'm looking for. Beyond that, a huge number of these stories just did not do it for me. I absolutely loved "Fisherman", "Eye of the Storm" and "Sea of Cortez" -- the latter of which is excellent as a period piece about a trans woman, even if the speculative content felt just barely shoehorned in -- and "Sex With Ghosts" was delightfully, refreshingly great on the asexuality front, and was a nice surprise to me as an asexual person. Those three stories alone constitute my three-star rating; nothing else in this anthology really wowed me, and some were downright binarist or otherwise cissexist, in addition to frustratingly lumping tired tropes like "cis woman wakes up one day with a penis" in with stories about people who actually identify outside the gender binary, as if they are the same. Not recommended.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Greg

    For a book that claims to be "beyond binary" and "genderqueer," the almost complete lack of either in this anthology is astonishing. (Doubly so since it's full of reprints.) Most stories paid lip service at best via some bisexuality (and often fleeting at that), and for a book that promised no surprise reveal of genitals as a punch line, one of the stories in fact does just that. The best thing about this book is Kelley Eskridge's "Eye of the Storm" which really is just reminding me that I've had For a book that claims to be "beyond binary" and "genderqueer," the almost complete lack of either in this anthology is astonishing. (Doubly so since it's full of reprints.) Most stories paid lip service at best via some bisexuality (and often fleeting at that), and for a book that promised no surprise reveal of genitals as a punch line, one of the stories in fact does just that. The best thing about this book is Kelley Eskridge's "Eye of the Storm" which really is just reminding me that I've had a copy of her short story collection (in which this is also included) for ages and need to read it. Sandra McDonald's "Sea of Cortez" is likewise strong, although its sf/f content is minimal for those who worry about that sort of thing. The second half of the anthology in particular feels ill-formed and fragmentary; lots of stories that are more along the lines of mood pieces than fully fleshed out creations. My rating for this book is really a 1.5 star rather than 2 star rating. It's not an awful book (which is what the 1-star rating is for, and makes me wish that we had both half-stars and 0 star options), and a handful of stories are well worth reading, but on the whole this feels like a nice idea that was ineptly executed.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Avory Faucette

    The stories in this collection cover quite a range, both in terms of the non-binary representation and the sort of speculative fiction. Some stories center on gender and sexuality, but plenty don't. I appreciate that there are a fair number with happy endings, or just more hopeful narratives than usual for trans folks. For example, Sandra McDonald's "Sea of Cortez" is much less depressing than I'd expect a story about gender variance in the Navy in WWII to be, and Kelley Eskridge's "Eye of the S The stories in this collection cover quite a range, both in terms of the non-binary representation and the sort of speculative fiction. Some stories center on gender and sexuality, but plenty don't. I appreciate that there are a fair number with happy endings, or just more hopeful narratives than usual for trans folks. For example, Sandra McDonald's "Sea of Cortez" is much less depressing than I'd expect a story about gender variance in the Navy in WWII to be, and Kelley Eskridge's "Eye of the Storm" is a delightful look at polyamory, gender variance, and atypical sexuality rolled up into swordfighting fantasy. I predictably enjoyed the two pieces by authors I already know well(ish), Nalo Hopkinson and Tobi Hill-Meyer, but some other standout favorites were "Pirate Solutions" by Katherine Sparrow, a somewhat confusing magical realist pirate hacker tale; "Prosperine When It Sizzles" by Tansy Rayner Roberts, a thrilling action story rife with worldbuilding around illegal use of technology; "Spoiling Veena" by Keyan Bowes, where an Indian mother comes to terms with her futuristic designer child choosing a different gender (extra points for exploring a world where getting your child's gender confirmed is considered the obvious humane thing to do); and "The Metamorphosis Bud" by Liu Wen Zhuang, which explores an elderly woman suddenly waking up with a penis and being very practical in her explorations of the new appendage. Characters of color feature prominently in the collection, as do folks grappling with other aspects of identity. Worth noting that there are several erotica pieces in here, if that's not your bag.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Laura Lam

    Was thinking about adding this in my undergraduate module reading list, but I think it's too light on the speculative fiction elements and more sexuality explicit than I want to discuss with a room full of 20 years olds. Not that many actual genderfluid leads either. Like most anthologies, there were stories I enjoyed and some that didn't work for me. Was thinking about adding this in my undergraduate module reading list, but I think it's too light on the speculative fiction elements and more sexuality explicit than I want to discuss with a room full of 20 years olds. Not that many actual genderfluid leads either. Like most anthologies, there were stories I enjoyed and some that didn't work for me.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Aran

    The rating is mostly because I was pretty disappointed in this book. In about 18 stories, only three or four (that I remember) had elements that I would call genderqueer. Which was a pretty big let down because the title is literally "Beyond Binary: Genderqueer and Sexually Fluid Speculative Fiction". I was also like :/// at how much sexual content there was in the book. Did I expect some? Yes, because "Sexually Fluid" is in the title. Did I expect there to be more than three* stories without se The rating is mostly because I was pretty disappointed in this book. In about 18 stories, only three or four (that I remember) had elements that I would call genderqueer. Which was a pretty big let down because the title is literally "Beyond Binary: Genderqueer and Sexually Fluid Speculative Fiction". I was also like :/// at how much sexual content there was in the book. Did I expect some? Yes, because "Sexually Fluid" is in the title. Did I expect there to be more than three* stories without sex? Yes. Also, for all the talk about going beyond binary, I didn't see much of that. So overall, this was just kind of a disappointment. *I don't recall numbers, but I know that there was a small number of these stories.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Alec

    I made the mistake of not looking at the publication date before checking out this collection. Not that every single queer story published before 2012 is bad, but it would have at least made me a little more prepared for how many of these stories really didn’t age well. My average rating for those stories would be a 1.76, but my overall experience with the book was so bad, that I can’t even give it the two stars that would round up to. I had seen some of the reviews saying there’s actually not a I made the mistake of not looking at the publication date before checking out this collection. Not that every single queer story published before 2012 is bad, but it would have at least made me a little more prepared for how many of these stories really didn’t age well. My average rating for those stories would be a 1.76, but my overall experience with the book was so bad, that I can’t even give it the two stars that would round up to. I had seen some of the reviews saying there’s actually not a whole lot of genderqueer stories in here, so I already went in having adjusted my expectations to just wanting some kind of queer collection, instead of specifically hoping for nonbinary or genderqueer rep, and it was still extremely disappointing. There were some cool ideas, some representation I appreciated, but most of all there was just tons of missed potential in here. A lot of those stories were also very sexual, some consisted mainly just of a sex scene, which usually isn’t my cup of tea, since I’m extremely picky with the kind of sexual content I like in books, and I definitely hadn’t expected quite that much of it in this collection. Sea of Cortez: 3 stars. I didn’t like that entire Cortez metaphor that ran throughout the story, nor how the maybe-paranormal aspect went literally nowhere, but other than that we weren’t off to too much of a bad start with this one. It follows a trans woman on a ship during the second world war, and I thought that was a super interesting perspective, and one I definitely haven’t gotten to see before. I also thought this story described the main character’s emotions incredibly well. Eye of the Storm: 2 stars. I wish I had liked this, because it represents something I’ve literally never seen in any other story, which is someone who is not into anything that’s typically seen as sex, but instead has something else (in his case fighting) be what sex is for other people. However, I really didn’t like the writing style nor the main character, and there were just so many small moments that bothered me for one reason or another, or where I felt the story would have needed a little more editing. Fisherman: 3 stars. This was the second and last story I at least somewhat enjoyed in here. It’s mostly a sex scene, which I tend to find kind of boring, but the writing and setting were really good, and I liked how the woman he had sex with didn’t make a big thing of the fact that he was trans. But I also just struggle reading about trans guys having any kind of sex actually involving their private parts, I theoretically know there’s people who do that, but it makes me a whole different level of dysphoric, which I recognize is a me-problem, but it does affect my enjoyment of stories like this one. Pirate Solutions: 1 star. I keep looking for good pirate stories, yet almost everything I’ve tried has let me down. The problem here was that it was simply too weird for me, it tried to mix so many things into one story that it felt all over the place and I struggled to even follow what was happening. And I don’t even think the different elements of this fit together all that well. A Wild and a Wicked Youth: 2 stars. This story had a few moments that made me think it might go somewhere good, but most of it was quite boring, and there were also a number of moments I wasn’t a fan of at all, and I didn’t love where the ending went. Prosperine When It Sizzles: 2 stars. This had some cool ideas, but in the end failed to grasp my attention. I think this concept would have worked a lot better in a full-length novel, but couldn’t live up to its potential in only a short story. The Faerie Cony-Catcher: 1 star. I hated the writing style and the specific kind of old language used in this one so much. It was quite sexual as well, in a way I didn’t care about at all, and often rather cringe-worthy in how it described some of the sexual things, and I really had to force myself through this. Palimpset: 2 stars. This was just a little too weird. Some of the concept of this was actually quite cool and I enjoyed the writing style, and I could imagine liking this story had it turned down its weirdness just a little bit. Another Coming: 1 star. This was one of my absolute least favorite stories in here, which means a lot since I disliked almost all of them. The characters and their behavior and conversations with each other made zero sense to me, and on top of that it used the r-word, which made it immediately become my least favorite out of the stories I had read so far. I also struggle reading about pregnancy, but that was definitely the smallest of my problems with this story. Bleaker Collegiate Presents an All-Female Production of Waiting for Godot: 2 stars. I honestly have no clue what the whole purpose of that story was. The Ghost Party: 2 stars. This one was super frustrating, because it actually started out promising and I already thought I had found a third story I at least somewhat enjoyed in here, but then the second half was kind of basic and disappointing. There were so many cool things you could have done with this concept, and the story didn’t do any of them. Bonehouse: 2 stars. This kind of SciFi just isn’t my cup of tea, I need either a lot of actual science or space/aliens, the things that are closer to dystopia just got boring to me at some point. I also didn’t love how the trans rep in here was done, I can’t point to anything that was specifically wrong with it, but reading this just made me uncomfortable. Sex with Ghosts: 1 star. The idea to this could have actually gone somewhere interesting, but then it just got a little too weird (and by that I mean the main character literally has sex with a robot that’s constructed to look like her). It would have been a two star story, but it uses the h-word, and I’m also just so sick of intersex people never being mentioned in books except as a fetish someone has, so it became a one. Spoiling Veena: 1 star. This was another one of my least favorite stories in here, and even in a collection of plenty of stories that read somewhat dated, this stood out as being especially dated. The views on gender in here are super simplified, and sometimes just outright wrong, and it includes so many transphobic narratives without challenging them to the extent that would have been necessary. Self-Reflection: 2 stars. This is one of the weirdest things I’ve ever read, and what is it with this collection having not one, but two stories about someone having sex with themselves? And by that I obviously don’t mean masturbating, I mean she literally sleeps with her future self who has traveled back in time. I think it was supposed to send some message about self-love too, but it definitely wasn’t successful. The Metamorphosis Bud: 2 stars. It’s nice to see an older protagonist in a queer collection, since that’s not something I see often, but other than that this was yet another story that was just too weird for me. Some of the ways this talked about body parts were super uncomfortable to read, and the ending felt kind of pointless, I really think it could have gone into a more interesting direction. Schrödingers Pussy: 1 star. At this point I don’t even have anything left to say, this was again just super weird and hard to get through and didn’t grip my attention at all, and I was just glad that I had somehow managed to finally finish this book.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Megan

    Really appreciate the diversity of identities on display in this anthology, as well as the varying degrees of focus the stories place on gender and sexual identity -- some stories are focused largely on identity, others treat identity as a given, only marginally relevant to the story at hand. Glad to see asexuality represented here -- in Sarah Kanning's "Sex with Ghosts" -- interestingly, both Kanning's story and Tobi Hill-Meyer's "Self-Reflection" have to do with a character encountering hersel Really appreciate the diversity of identities on display in this anthology, as well as the varying degrees of focus the stories place on gender and sexual identity -- some stories are focused largely on identity, others treat identity as a given, only marginally relevant to the story at hand. Glad to see asexuality represented here -- in Sarah Kanning's "Sex with Ghosts" -- interestingly, both Kanning's story and Tobi Hill-Meyer's "Self-Reflection" have to do with a character encountering herself -- but with MUCH different approaches to sex/sexuality. I think these two were among my favorites -- also really loved Keffy R. M. Kehrli's "Bonehouse," which involves an evictionist hired to find and disconnect net addicts hiding out in bonehouses; Keyan Bowes's "Spoiling Veena," which explores trans issues within a near-future India where children are genetically engineered. I could write at length about many of these stories; and of course some I appreciated some more than others. I agree with those who note that maybe the subtitle is not super accurate to the stories the book contains. That said, while perhaps only a handful of the stories themselves could be said to operate as either/both "genderqueer" and "sexually fluid," the book as a whole definitely does.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Lee Reid

    Over all, the writing throughout the book is decent, but not at all "genderqueer," "sexually fluid," or "speculative." if you're looking for that kind of thing, you won't find it here. further review as follows: warnings: transphobia, cocsa, lesbophobia, ... - trans fetishism, a misunderstanding/misrepresentation of trans experiences - there isn't a single non-binary character, only fetishised binary trans characters - calling binary trans people genderqueer or non-binary is misgendering them. - lite Over all, the writing throughout the book is decent, but not at all "genderqueer," "sexually fluid," or "speculative." if you're looking for that kind of thing, you won't find it here. further review as follows: warnings: transphobia, cocsa, lesbophobia, ... - trans fetishism, a misunderstanding/misrepresentation of trans experiences - there isn't a single non-binary character, only fetishised binary trans characters - calling binary trans people genderqueer or non-binary is misgendering them. - literally there's a story with very young boys licking one another's toes. wtf. why would you include that. - there's a story in this "genderqueer and sexually fluid" collection about lesbians. lesbians aren't either of these things? stop fetishising lesbians to suit your ~~queer~ ideals - one story is very hinted at being about a lesbian coming to terms with compulsory heterosexuality. again, no non-binary characters or sexually fluidity. just a young lesbian. - another reviewer pointed out very rightly that these stories aren't sexually fluid. most of them are just bi/pan experiences, and occasionally just gay.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Christopher

    I read this back in June but forgot to rate and review. The selections are all good to great, but I got my money's worth from Delia Sherman's "Faery Cony-Catcher" and Richard Larson's "The Ghost Party". Valente's story, "Palimpsest," was nice to see here, too, particularly since her novel of the same name often eclipses the story that was its seed. The Kelly Eskridge story was one I had not come across before, and it was wonderful, as were the Sandra McDonald and Ellen Kushner stories. Kudos to I read this back in June but forgot to rate and review. The selections are all good to great, but I got my money's worth from Delia Sherman's "Faery Cony-Catcher" and Richard Larson's "The Ghost Party". Valente's story, "Palimpsest," was nice to see here, too, particularly since her novel of the same name often eclipses the story that was its seed. The Kelly Eskridge story was one I had not come across before, and it was wonderful, as were the Sandra McDonald and Ellen Kushner stories. Kudos to the editor and publisher for putting together and bringing out a book that's necessary. May there be more.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Melinda

    Overall, I really liked the anthology. There where stories I didnt like because the plot wasn't of interest to me. A good example was the pirate story. I like the idea of computer hackers as pirates but I couldn't connected with the drinking of rum as a medium to reincarnation and possession. I liked Fisherman by Nalo Hopkinson. It was grounded in a reality of experience that I believe could have existed in a different era. I also really adored Spoiling Veena! Veena knew that Vikrum was truly wh Overall, I really liked the anthology. There where stories I didnt like because the plot wasn't of interest to me. A good example was the pirate story. I like the idea of computer hackers as pirates but I couldn't connected with the drinking of rum as a medium to reincarnation and possession. I liked Fisherman by Nalo Hopkinson. It was grounded in a reality of experience that I believe could have existed in a different era. I also really adored Spoiling Veena! Veena knew that Vikrum was truly who they where and no amount of arguing could change their understanding of their gender. It was a entertaining story.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Valerie

    Meh. A couple of good stories and quite a few that are so oblique they are almost incoherent (and I'm not interested enough to invest the time to decipher them). Starts stronger than it finishes...and if I hadn't read the title of the anthology or the introductory essay, I wouldn't have guessed the common theme. Meh. A couple of good stories and quite a few that are so oblique they are almost incoherent (and I'm not interested enough to invest the time to decipher them). Starts stronger than it finishes...and if I hadn't read the title of the anthology or the introductory essay, I wouldn't have guessed the common theme.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sma

    I can only agree to most of the other reviews written for this book, while the short stories per se aren't bad, they just don't tell the stories the book/anthology as a whole wants to tell - as they ate still so much within binaries instead of going beyond that. And if you are so, so much excited for the possibilities if this book...you are just going to be so much disappointed. :/ I can only agree to most of the other reviews written for this book, while the short stories per se aren't bad, they just don't tell the stories the book/anthology as a whole wants to tell - as they ate still so much within binaries instead of going beyond that. And if you are so, so much excited for the possibilities if this book...you are just going to be so much disappointed. :/

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sumayyah

    Decent selection of stories, some that I have read before in other collections. However, I found myself confused as to why several of these stories were included as I was unable to figure out their connection to gender.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jaye

    I was attracted to the title of this one, but I don't feel like it lived up to the hype. Don't get me wrong; there are some good stories here, but I agree with some of the other reviews here. In addition to the good stories are a bunch of ho-hum, nothing to see here stories. I was attracted to the title of this one, but I don't feel like it lived up to the hype. Don't get me wrong; there are some good stories here, but I agree with some of the other reviews here. In addition to the good stories are a bunch of ho-hum, nothing to see here stories.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Joshua

    Yeah, the stories had some gender-diverse characters, but a whole lot of them didn't make any sense to me. Many were drawn out, over-complicated short stories that seemed to serve no point. Yeah, the stories had some gender-diverse characters, but a whole lot of them didn't make any sense to me. Many were drawn out, over-complicated short stories that seemed to serve no point.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lee

    Not a lot of genderqueer or nonbinary (if any) characters in this collection, as a lot of other reviewers said. Disappointing.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Samuel

    For those who're TLDR - I suggest reading the book, because it's good. This collection first came to my attention because it’s got “Eye of the Storm – Kelley Eskridge” in it; I love the story so I decided to buy the collection. It turned out, though, to have many more stories I ended up enjoying! I’ve decided to review the collection story by story, since I’m unsure how to discuss theme without spoilers. While I won’t be giving plot specific spoilers, I do mention my emotions/impressions of the s For those who're TLDR - I suggest reading the book, because it's good. This collection first came to my attention because it’s got “Eye of the Storm – Kelley Eskridge” in it; I love the story so I decided to buy the collection. It turned out, though, to have many more stories I ended up enjoying! I’ve decided to review the collection story by story, since I’m unsure how to discuss theme without spoilers. While I won’t be giving plot specific spoilers, I do mention my emotions/impressions of the story (so if that’ll spoil it for you, skip this and go read the collection). I will generalize my feelings on the story with the Goodreads 5 star system (1 for ‘dislike,’ 2 for ‘eh,’ so on). NOTE: there is sex all over the place in this collection. If you don’t want to handle that, skip it (which would be unfortunate). Sea of Cortez by Sandra McDonald - A story about a member of the Navy during WWII, who can see the beginning and end of people & objects. I was mildly confused, then sad, then happy. I felt it to be okay, but not super-fantastic (the use of second person may have thrown me a bit). 2 of 5 stars. Eye of the Storm by Kelley Eskridge - The story by which I measure all the other stories in this collection by. Mars, the POV character, is a child of war. I found it to have strong voice, excellent descriptions, epic characters; I could go on all day about how much I love this story. If you read only one story in this collection (which I don’t suggest), read this one. 5 of 5 stars. Fisherman by Nalo Hopkinson - I was super frustrated by this story at first, as I couldn’t understand what was going on. Once I got into the cadence of the language I was fine. It’s about a fisherman visiting a prostitute for the first time. I wasn’t super fond of the main character, and I really liked some of the supporting characters. So, all in all an okay read. 2 of 5 stars. Pirate Solutions by Katherine Sparrow - Pirates, hackers, and multiple perspectives in this story. The protagonists are a romantic and/or sexual triad. I liked the sweeping sense of history this story managed to convey. I also thought it had vivid descriptions. 3 of 5 stars. “A Wild and a Wicked Youth” by Ellen Kushner - I saw this as a story about power. What is it, who has it, and how is it used? I also saw it as being about relationships, and the connection between relationships and power. I would really like for it to have a sequel. That’s my only complaint, which isn’t really a complaint I suppose. 4 of 5 stars. Prosperine When It Sizzles by Tansy Rayner Roberts - Badass POV character, political intrigue, dark pasts. It gave me a sense of a large setting, which I enjoyed. The supporting characters sprung out at me as well, which was good. 5 of 5 stars. The Faerie Cony-catcher by Delia Sherman - Before you ask, it means con artist or something similar. Yes, I looked it up after reading the story (it was the only way to be sure). There’s different language here as well, with which I had some trouble. Once I got into it, as above, I enjoyed the story. There are faeries, and one of them is a Cony-catcher. The story reminded me a lot of some European folklore I’ve read. 3 of 5 stars. Palimpsest by Catherynne M. Valente - Descriptions in this are rich, varied, and frequent. It paints a setting breadth and depth, and that setting is a city. Characters enhanced or informed the setting for me, so I went with it. There’s not a conflict plot (that I could tell), and the story is a good one. Beautiful, stirring language. 4 of 5 stars. Another Coming by Sonya Taafe - I have mixed feelings about this story. On the one hand, I thought the characters, setting, and dialogue were all angelic (this is a good thing). On the other hand, I was disturbed by some behaviors of the supporting characters. 2 to 4 of 5 stars. Bleaker Collegiate Presents and All-Female Production of Waiting for Godot by Claire Humphrey - This story starts with bleeding, which is almost never a good thing. I felt a bit down after reading this story, though I’d consider it well-written. Everything else I could say here is spoilers all the way down. 3 of 5 stars. The Ghost Party by Richard Larson - This was a bit of a horror story for me. Trust betrayed, being stuck in a moment forever, having your human growth stemmed or turned back. And for what? I found questions without answers in this story (I didn’t see this as a good thing). 2 of 5 stars. Bonehouse by Keffy R.M. Kehrli - The POV character is looking for something, or looking to be something. So are the people he hunts down. I felt like this story was about what makes a human who they are. Are we just our bones, or is what makes who we are something less tangible? The story provides some choices, and in those choices I could see what the characters thought. 5 of 5 stars. Sex with Ghosts by Sarah Kanning - This story starts out with a premise, then sharks after it like it was blood in the water. There are sex-bots, so be warned. One could say the story is about sex, and that wouldn’t even be wrong. For me, though, this story was more about belonging. Parts of it freaked me out. 5 of 5 stars. Spoiling Veena by Keyan Bowes - The politics in this story are interesting. I’d consider the setting a dystopia. You may disagree. Discussing this without spoilers is difficult. 4 of 5 stars. Self-Reflection by Tobi Hill-Meyer - It’s a time travel story (it’s not a spoiler, it’s the premise). It answers a popular time-travel question, and does so well enough. What the question is exactly is a spoiler, so just read it. 3 of 5 stars. The Metamorphosis Bud by Liu Wen Zhuang - Georgia wakes up with a penis, and the story goes from there. She’s an awesome POV, and the story is a good one. There are some charming background characters as well. One of my favorites of this collection. 5 of 5 stars. Schrödinger’s Pussy by Terra LeMay - This story was trippy like whoa. And it *works* (really well, I felt). It plays with time, which might be a mite disorienting. It’s an excellent ending story, even if I felt the last line to be a bit of an anvil.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Ekmef

    I wish I had checked out the goodreads reviews before ordering this book immediately after reading Mandelo's terrific reviews on tor.com. Based on the description and the introduction I was expecting a wholesome collection of stories about people like me. Instead, most of the stories didn't even feature a trans character. But many entries were so badly written that it was impossible to determine what they were about - so I might have missed something. I was surprised to see that all stories were I wish I had checked out the goodreads reviews before ordering this book immediately after reading Mandelo's terrific reviews on tor.com. Based on the description and the introduction I was expecting a wholesome collection of stories about people like me. Instead, most of the stories didn't even feature a trans character. But many entries were so badly written that it was impossible to determine what they were about - so I might have missed something. I was surprised to see that all stories were written by accomplished authors and had been published elsewhere. It definitely doesn't show in the quality of the writings. Judging by the GR reviews I'm not alone, though, in thinking that this collection was kind of lacking in the beyond binary department. There wasn't a single nonbinary character, there were no neopronouns, etc. Additionally, there was one super weird story about a binary trans person that felt like a TERFy ad. It does feature lots of explorations of sexuality and genitals, though, so people who enjoy reading fiction about that may like this book.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Iona Sharma

    I got this on a whim and really liked it. As with all anthologies it's hit and miss; some stories seem a little short on the speculative element (there was at least one where I couldn't make it out at all) and others seem a little short on the stated theme of the anthology. I don't want to make this latter criticism too harshly as an author's notion of what they set out to write might be different from mine, and what reads to me as other elements of the queer umbrella might well be meant as a ge I got this on a whim and really liked it. As with all anthologies it's hit and miss; some stories seem a little short on the speculative element (there was at least one where I couldn't make it out at all) and others seem a little short on the stated theme of the anthology. I don't want to make this latter criticism too harshly as an author's notion of what they set out to write might be different from mine, and what reads to me as other elements of the queer umbrella might well be meant as a genderqueer story. The one that did seem a little self-indulgent in this regard however was the Valente story, "Palimpsest". There's also one story that struck me as actively amateurish, "Self-Reflection". However on the whole it's way more hit than miss, and I liked the book very much taken as a whole. Particular favourites were "Sea of Cortez", by Sandra McDonald; "Fisherman" by Nalo Hopkinson, "Spoiling Veena" by Keyan Bowes and "The Metamorphosis Bud" by Liu Wen Zhuang.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Arinn Dembo

    This was one of several books I picked up recently while trolling the library system for queer speculative fiction. "Beyond Binary: Genderqueer and Sexually Fluid Speculative Fiction" was edited by Brit Mandelo and released in 2012. I cracked the cover of this and was immediately struck by the high quality of the stories. I'm not sure about the process of selection, but I suspect that most of these stories are re-prints and that the editor was taking the absolute cream of an already distilled cro This was one of several books I picked up recently while trolling the library system for queer speculative fiction. "Beyond Binary: Genderqueer and Sexually Fluid Speculative Fiction" was edited by Brit Mandelo and released in 2012. I cracked the cover of this and was immediately struck by the high quality of the stories. I'm not sure about the process of selection, but I suspect that most of these stories are re-prints and that the editor was taking the absolute cream of an already distilled crop of excellent fiction. The Table of Contents features some genuinely stellar authors, including Kelly Eskridge, Nalo Hopkinson, Catherine Valente, Liu Zhen Wuang, Delia Sherman, and Ellen Kushner. Side note: a lot of these stories of gender-fluid identity are also openly erotic. They deal very frankly with same-sex desire, as well as desires that don't have such easy labels. Overall I'm really glad I picked this one up, and it is one of the better queer anthologies I've read.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Bel

    There were several stories that were worth the price of admission alone. One just has to get past the fact that the collection doesn't even nearly live up to the title and subtitle. Many stories don't involve a stroke of speculative fiction (in the commonly understood sense), and many involve zero genderqueer or sexually fluid content. I don't think a minor gay subplot qualifies. Nevertheless, there are some entries that will really stay with me: Eye of the Storm by Kelley Eskridge told a lot of s There were several stories that were worth the price of admission alone. One just has to get past the fact that the collection doesn't even nearly live up to the title and subtitle. Many stories don't involve a stroke of speculative fiction (in the commonly understood sense), and many involve zero genderqueer or sexually fluid content. I don't think a minor gay subplot qualifies. Nevertheless, there are some entries that will really stay with me: Eye of the Storm by Kelley Eskridge told a lot of story in a short space and came up with a really intriguing concept of sexuality Fisherman by Nalo Hopkinson created a fantastic distinct voice, told a sexy story, then ended on a really positive note. Loved it. Pirate Solutions by Katherine Sparrow was bonkers and wonderful. The others were mostly worth the time spent. A few read like episodes of Black Mirror. Some were a bit nothing-y, some were too high concept for me to understand. The collection definitely tailed off towards the end.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ser

    I'm not sure how I feel about this book overall. Some stories I found very compelling, particularly "Sea of Cortez," "Eye of the Storm," and, somewhat surprisingly, "Schrodinger's Pussy." Some I didn't get or didn't enjoy. And "Sex with Ghosts" I found repugnant and horrifying. I'm asexual and that story is the stuff of nightmares for me. I think maybe I'm disappointed by this collection because the title and intro seem to suggest that these stories might wrestle with some of the things I wrestle I'm not sure how I feel about this book overall. Some stories I found very compelling, particularly "Sea of Cortez," "Eye of the Storm," and, somewhat surprisingly, "Schrodinger's Pussy." Some I didn't get or didn't enjoy. And "Sex with Ghosts" I found repugnant and horrifying. I'm asexual and that story is the stuff of nightmares for me. I think maybe I'm disappointed by this collection because the title and intro seem to suggest that these stories might wrestle with some of the things I wrestle with in terms of gender identity, but I didn't find that to be the case. I want characters who more explicitly define their own gender outside the binary. The lack of alternate pronouns was a huge gap, and an unforgivable one for me, in the representation covered by this book, especially since the title says so clearly that it is supposed to include genderqueer stories.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Robert

    This book presents queer stories in a wide variety of writing styles.I definitely have a few authors to look into. However, as a nonbinary person, my primary interest in this book was that it would largely feature nonbinary characters and I was disappointed to find that, instead, some of the stories were actually quite binarist. And there didn't really appear to be much sexual fluidity to be found. Honestly, that seems like a really difficult concept to show in a short story, so I'm not surprised. This book presents queer stories in a wide variety of writing styles.I definitely have a few authors to look into. However, as a nonbinary person, my primary interest in this book was that it would largely feature nonbinary characters and I was disappointed to find that, instead, some of the stories were actually quite binarist. And there didn't really appear to be much sexual fluidity to be found. Honestly, that seems like a really difficult concept to show in a short story, so I'm not surprised. There were definitely lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans characters, but that's not what the title made me expect.

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