Can you believe we’re already halfway through Pride Month? I’m celebrating the best way I know how: reading lots of books with queer representation! Now I’m here to share the love and bring you my favorites that feature gays in space, a niche but wonderful space in the world of science-fiction. Read on!
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
When Rosemary Harper joins the crew of the Wayfarer, she thinks she’ll just get the chance to explore the galaxy. Things quickly get more dangerous when the crew is offered the job of a lifetime. They must learn to depend on and trust one another if they’re going to survive.
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet is the perfect book to give you that warm, fuzzy feeling when you’re finished. Becky Chambers is inclusive in her vision of aliens and the humans that live among them, creating a quietly and intimately optimistic take on humanity. The romances aren’t the main focus of the story, but they add a nice touch to the relationships between characters both on and off the Wayfarer.
Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee
In the Hexarchate, six factions vie for power within the system. Our hero, Captain Kel Cheris, is a military commander in trouble for her unorthodox strategies. To redeem herself, she must retake a station that has fallen into enemy hands. The only way to do this is to download the consciousness of General Shuos Jedao, consigned to cold storage for massacring his own army as well as the enemy’s.
Cheris doesn’t have a romantic interest in Ninefox Gambit (or any of the sequels) but she does mention her attraction to women as well as an ex-girlfriend. Jedao is also queer, as are a number of other characters. Most of the Hexarchate is relaxed as far as gender identity and sexuality, and author Yoon Ha Lee was very deliberate in that decision. In an essay for Amazon Book Review, Yoon said:
I wanted to talk about long odds and ridiculous gambits and Big Space Battles, not Big Space Gender/Sexuality Oppression.
My feeling when I constructed the Hexarchate’s society was that yes, the Hexarchate is a terrible dystopia, where people are routinely tortured, life is cheap and soldiers’ lives are thrown away like grass clippings. But there wasn’t any prima facie reason … why the Hexarchate would automatically be jackasses about people of varied sexualities and gender identities.
Ninefox Gambit is brutal, but features some incredible character work and sci-fi worlds and is well worth a read.
Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell
If you’ve been on GGA any time this past year, you know I love Winter’s Orbit. It’s a mashup of Jupiter Ascending and Red, White & Royal Blue, full of everyone’s favorite fanfiction tropes. There’s an arranged marriage, huddling together for warmth and of course, the beloved “there’s only one bed.” The main characters — a disgraced prince and a widowed diplomat — are intriguing and lovable; you won’t want to miss their journey. Kiem and Jainan are the most recent members of the “gays in space” club, but they fit right in.
This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone
This Is How You Lose the Time War is full of gorgeous prose and literal star-crossed lovers on opposite sides of a millennia-old war and so much longing. The protagonists are two time travelers trying to secure the future for their sides. They initially exchange messages as a taunt, following one another through time until they’re the only constant in each others’ lives.
The novella is in mostly epistolary format; their exchanges quickly become epic and romantic. It’s soon clear that Blue and Red have completely fallen for each other, even as they’re plotting the other’s death across the timeline. I’ll admit that I didn’t completely follow every message they sent, but I loved every word of them.
An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon
I am a boy and a girl and a witch all wrapped into one very strange, flimsy, indecisive body. Do you think my body couldn’t decide what it wanted to be?
Rivers Solomon’s debut novel An Unkindness of Ghosts takes place on a generation ship where society is structured like the Antebellum south. The passengers aboard the Matilda divide themselves along racial lines; Aster Gray, with her dark skin, resides on the lower decks in a life of servitude and restriction. She spends her time investigating the connection between her mother’s suicide long ago and the death of the ship’s Sovereign.
Aster is queer, neuro-atypical, black and intersex; in fact, all of the main characters are both gender nonconforming and neurodivergent. Aster herself is resolute, unapologetic and wholly herself, a fantastic protagonist to take readers through the world Solomon created.
Cosmoknights by Hannah Templer
Hannah Templer’s first volume of Cosmoknights features a teen named Pan and her best friend Tara, who happens to be a princess. She’s devastated when Tara has to leave the planet, but she stows away with a charismatic pair of gladiators to see the galaxy and find her friend.
The gladiators in question — Cass and Bee — pilot giant robots in the far reaches of space. They fight to free princesses from becoming prizes awarded to the victors. They’re a couple, they’re amazing and their introduction is absolutely perfect.
Templer stunningly combines the medieval themes of jousting for the hand of a fair maiden with the drama and action of robot gladiators, all starring a ragtag band of space gays smashing the patriarchy. Cosmoknights Volume Two is a long way away (summer 2022) but I’m so excited to read more of this story.
Honorable Mention: Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir
Gideon the Ninth already made an appearance in my “Sapphics With Swords” article, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention it here too. Gideon’s hopelessly in love with every lady she crosses paths with, she’s great with a sword and while she’s not necessarily the perfect person to solve a necromantic murder mystery in space, she’s going to look good doing it. Gideon is absolutely an essential member of the gays in space squad.
These are by no means all of the wonderful gays in space that you can read about during Pride and all year long! Are your favorites here? If not, give me more to read below!
This article was originally published on 6/16/21