Saturday, October 31, 2015
Fuck Allegory - the case for directness
Everyone knows that SciFi and Fantasy stories are allegorical. And usually they're pretty fucking political too, just in case you wanted to get yanked off about the Hugos. The Beyond Anthology basically says "fuck allegory, we're going to tell our fucking stories."
There have been LGBT characters in SciFi and Fantasy as long as those genres have existed. Look at Frankenstein, for fuck's sake. The relationship between Victor and his creation is way more important than any other relationship in the story, it was written by someone who spent a lot of time hanging out with Byron, and it's about forbidden explorations of humanity. It's clearly a queer novel. But for some reason stodgy folks in classrooms like to sidestep that and talk about god instead. So Beyond is a relief. There's no question here that the characters we're being shown fall under the queer umbrella. There's no room to claim that a character's transness isn't canon because transness is made explicit. So sexuality and gender identity in these stories aren't hidden under layers of outdated pear-clutching, which opens up some fascinating fictional possibilities.
It's also remarkable how little difference something so impactful makes to the stories. These are all great SciFi and Fantasy stories that ALSO allow LGBT readers to see themselves represented. The plot isn't sidelined by the backgrounds of the characters, the characters simply are who they are and the stories are amazing. It isn't labored, it doesn't ring false, it isn't a big deal - it's just great stories that happen to include LGBT characters, which is kind of a big deal.
I'm not making much sense, I know. I'm kind of too excited to make much sense. Beyond is fantastic. It's a joy to read. At least 5 of the stories were so touching they made me weep as I turned the pages. The art alternates between gorgeously realistic and unexpectedly cute from page to page, and it all works. This is a great collection, I love it, and I've gotta go find myself a copy because I borrowed this one from a friend.
So fuck allegory, at least some of the time. We shouldn't have to have straight/cis/white/male as the default in our SF&F anymore, we know those aren't the people reading the stories, writing the stories, or filling up the world. It's time to let everyone shine.
Monster, Sfe R. Ed. Various Authors. Beyond. 2015.