Representation and inclusivity is important everywhere, including within the pages of books. These nine outstanding authors have managed to bring diverse characters and stories to life with their science fiction and fantasy novels. From Joanna Russ to newer authors like Alex London, these writers and their fantastic books are sure to keep you entertained for hours. Read about the nine LGBTQ authors below, and add one of your own favorite authors in the comments!
Samuel R. Delany
Delany, known as “Chip” to his friends, has been writing science fiction—in addition to memoirs and criticism—since the 1960s. The author has won four Nebula Awards and two Hugo Awards, and was inducted in the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame in 2002. His novel Babel-17 follows the story of Rydra Wong—a linguist and poet who is called in by the military to decode a strange message that threatens the galaxy’s war effort. But the more Rydra learns…the more tempted she is to join the other side.
The Female Man
The author of feminist literary criticism, in addition to science fiction and fantasy, the late Joanna Russ influenced readers throughout her life since she was first noticed in the late 1960s. During her career, she challenged the male-dominated world of science fiction—both in authors and audience. She published And Chaos Died in 1970, which tells of an overpopulated planet where nature scarcely exists and creativity and individualism are suppressed. But there are other ways of life out there. And as the novel progresses, they come into conflict.
In 2010, Farah Mendlesohn's book On Joanna Russ was nominated for a Hugo Award for Best Related Work. The book details Russ' life and career as a prolific author and feminist.
Poppy Z. Brite
Are You Loathsome Tonight?
Trans author Billy Martin, who is known professionally as Poppy Z. Brite, is the author of fantasy and horror novels, which usually feature gay or bisexual characters. Some of his major influences include other southern writers like Shirley Jackson, Flannery O’Connor, and Truman Capote. His short story collection, Are You Loathsome Tonight?, spans the bounds of fantasy and horror to bring readers gruesome, other-worldly tales.
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The Salt Roads
Speculative fiction writer Nalo Hopkinson was raised in a literary environment and was greatly influenced by fairy and folk tales she read at an early age—including Afro-Caribbean stories. She often includes Caribbean and feminist themes in her work, as well as subjects relating to race, class, and sexuality. Her novel, The Salt Roads—a Nebula Award finalist—tells the story of a group of women who unintentionally draw Ezili, the Afro-Caribbean goddess of sexual desire and love, into the physical world. Ezili travels across time and space to influence the lives of three women—providing them with courage and strength.
Charlie Jane Anders
All the Birds in the Sky
Even if you’re not familiar with Charlie Jane Anders, you’ve probably heard of her books All the Birds in the Sky or The City in the Middle of the Night. Winner of the 2017 Nebula Award for Best Novel, All the Birds in the Sky is about a witch and a techno-geek who find each other when they’re kids after being shunned by other children for being “different.” The story follows their relationship, with a crumbling world serving as the backdrop. In addition to being a science fiction and fantasy writer, Anders was also the founder and co-editor of io9—which she left in 2016 to focus on writing.
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The Gilda Stories
In addition to being an author, poet, and playwright, Jewelle Gomez grew up involved in social and political movements—especially those relating to the African American community, which is reflected in her writing. She’s also been involved in lesbian feminist activism, and was a member of Conditions—a lesbian feminist literary magazine. Her 1991 novel, The Gilda Stories, which was recently republished for its 25th anniversary, follows Gilda in 1850s Louisiana as she escapes slavery and learns about freedom at a brothel where she becomes a vampire. The novel won two Lambda Literary Awards in 1992, for Lesbian Scifi/Fantasy/Horror and Lesbian Fiction.
Stargate Atlantis: Homecoming
Melissa Scott is the winner of four Lambda Literary Awards in the Scifi/Fantasy/Horror category and is known for her science fiction novels that feature LGBT characters. Scott has written numerous stories, three of which are co-authored with her partner, Lisa A. Barnett. One of her more popular novels is co-authored with Jo Graham—the first book in the Stargate Atlantis: Legacy series, Homecoming, which is based in the Stargate Atlantis universe.
British-American novelist Nicola Griffith is the winner of a Nebula Award, a World Fantasy Award, and six Lambda Literary Awards. After being forced to hide her sexuality as a young teenager, she eventually relocated from Leeds to Hull. There, Griffith found her first women’s community and was able to read feminist fiction. Later on, she was accepted to Michigan State University’s Clarion Workshop where she studied amongst sci-fi and fantasy greats, including Kim Stanley Robinson and Samuel R. Delany. Her first novel, Ammonite, takes place on a planet in which a deadly virus has killed most of the original colonists and changed the survivors dramatically. When anthropologist Marghe Taishan arrives on the planet, hoping to test a new vaccine against the virus, she realizes that she may destroy the planet altogether.
Alex London is the author of the sci-fi young adult Proxy series. The series follows Syd who, as a proxy, is responsible for paying for someone else’s crimes. And when his patron Knox crashes a car and kills someone, Syd is held responsible. On the run to beat the system, the boys uncover a secret rebel society that tests everything they believe in. The Proxy series is notable for its gay main character, something that is not seen often enough in a YA dystopian/cyberpunk series. Before he was a novelist, London was a journalist who reported from conflict zones and refugee camps.
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Featured photo: (From left to right) Charlie Jane Anders, Nicola Griffith, Samuel R. Delany, Joanna Russ, and Nalo Hopkinson via Wikipedia
An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that "All the Birds in the Sky" won the Hugo, rather than the Nebula. The Portalist regrets the error.