Pride Month is wrapping up, but it’s always a good time of year to read queer-themed literature. But what do you do if you don’t have time to read a whole novel? Summer is busy, after all, even though it’s supposed to be time off. The solution? Short stories, of course! Here are a bunch of queer-themed anthologies, containing everything from comics to essays to poems to fiction, romance, contemporary, speculative, you name it.
1. Meanwhile, Elsewhere, edited by Cat Fitzpatrick and Casey Plett
This anthology of science fiction and fantasy written by transgender authors is an excellent book object, complete with its ’50s-science-themed cover and nice-feeling paper. The contents are also excellent; look for “Satan, Are You There? It’s Me, Laura” by Aisling Fae, about a trans woman who tries to summon Satan, and “No Comment” by Ayşe Devrim, about a trans woman who may possibly be the mother of a miracle baby (read an excerpt from that story here.)
2. Nerve Endings: The New Trans Erotic, edited by Tobi Hill-Meyer
Conceived of as trans erotica by and for trans people, the stories in this volume aren’t always pleasant and the endings aren’t always happy, but they’re deeply honest in often painful ways. Standouts include “Death You Deserve” by Ryley Knowles, with themes of PTSD and invasive thoughts; “Singularity” by Katherine Cross, about a trans woman and an AI she created; and “Accommodation” by Shawna Logue, about orcs, consent, and dysphoria. (An e-book is available here.)
3. F, M, or Other: Quarrels With the Gender Binary, edited by Nathaniel Kunitsky and Rhiannon Tate
This recent anthology of fiction, nonfiction (personal and academic essays), and poetry uses a symbol for works with difficult themes, although of course what’s difficult isn’t necessarily the same from reader to reader. Still, it’s nice that they thought of it. Try “XY,” a poem by Iliria Osum, with excellent language use, that’s (sort of) about Helen of Troy; the essay “Authentic(ated) Author—Writing and (Gender) Identity” by James Bradford and Ever Dundas, which contains a truly awesome bibliography; and “The Archivist,” a fiction story by Eris Young. (The book is available for order here.)
4. Transcendent, (vol. 1) and Transcendent, (vol. 2), edited by K. M. Szpara (vol. 1) and Bogi Takács (vol. 2)
These annual anthologies of the best in transgender speculative fiction contain some of the very best writing I’ve ever read. Volume 2 was recently named a Lammy winner to boot. Favorites in Volume 1 include Nino Cipri’s “Story,” about a time traveling family, and E. Saxey’s “The Librarian’s Dilemma,” about a young librarian-in-training and some deep moral choices. Favorites in Volume 2 include “This Is Not a Wardrobe Door,” by Minnesotan author A. Merc Rustad, available and beautifully illustrated here, and “Three Points Masculine,” by An Owomoyela, an excellent military sci-fi story originally published in Lightspeed Magazine and available here.
5. His Seed: An Arboretum of Erotica, edited by Steve Berman
Another Lammy winner, this volume of plant-themed m/m erotica is, well, quite expectedly lush. Do remember that erotica doesn’t always follow the romance rule of Happily Ever After—some of these stories are closer to horror than romance, but try “The Jessamine Garden” by John Linwood Grant, a story with themes similar to Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Rappaccini’s Daughter”; “Guardian of the Grove” by Evey Brett, a “Beauty and the Beast” retelling but with trees; or “The Bridge” by Connie Wilkins, about a World War I veteran.
6. Capricious Issue 9: The Gender Diverse Pronouns Issue, edited by A. C. Buchanan
Capricious is an online magazine and they recently crowdfunded an extra-long issue of ten stories containing, you guessed it, diverse pronouns, including singular they, the Spivak pronouns (e/em/eirs), zie pronouns, and various others. Bogi Takacs (editor of Transcendant 2, above) has a story, “Volatile Patterns,” about smart garments (semisentient clothing) that’s particularly delightful, and so is “The Thing With Feathers,” by S. L. Byrne, about a dragon and eggs and a dragon hunter. (The Kindle edition is available here.)
7. Nameless Woman, edited by Ellyn Pena, Jamie Berout, and Venus Selenite
Available electronically for free in perpetuity here, this anthology of fiction by trans women of color is often a difficult read and absolutely a worthwhile one. I loved the first story, actually an excerpt from a longer work titled “No More Secrets,” by Michelle Evans, about a hacker and what she’ll do to help her friends, and a Dungeons and Dragons–themed poem by Olive Machado, titled “A Lantern is Lit on the Grave of a Cleric.”
8. Resilience: Surviving in the Face of Everything, edited by Amy Heart, Larissa Glasser, and Sugi Pyrrophyta
This collection of essays and poems by AMAB trans people (trans women and nonbinary folk who were assigned male at birth), with some fiction towards the back contains an index of content warnings at the back. The introduction is by Julia Serano, an awesome essayist in her own right, and other standouts include Casey Plett’s essay “Weekend,” about a typical weekend in her life and her community; and Erica, Inchoate’s essay, “Wednesday Morning, 7:26 AM,” about coffee and racism and intersectionality.
9. Start Here: Short Stories of First Encounters, edited by Ronald S. Lim and Brigitte Bautista
#romanceclass is a community of Filipino writers who write in English; I’ve recommended a couple of their novels before (here) and I will continue to recommend them, as everything I’ve read by this group of writers has been excellent. Start Here is an anthology of queer romance short stories, and they’re all delightful. Try “Come Full Circle” by Bobbi Moran, a story in the second person about a Captain Von Trapp finding her Maria; “Gorgeous” by Motzie Dapul, a story about mistaken identities, and also a nonbinary love interest (where the conflict isn’t about them being nonbinary, what?!); and “Lemon Drop Friday” by Brigitte Bautista, about two best friends at a bar who become something more.
10. Beyond: The Queer Sci Fi/Fantasy Comic Anthology (Vol. 1) and Beyond: The Queer Dystopia/Urban Fantasy Comic Anthology (Vol. 2), edited by Sfé R. Monster and Taneka Stotts
These two comic anthologies are exactly what it says on the tin: a volume of queer science fiction and fantasy comic shorts, usually around ten pages long, and a volume of the same, only dystopian and urban fantasy settings. There are several authors who have stories in both volumes, including Reed Black, whose “Of Families and Other Magical Objects” in the first volume and “Dear Wife” in the second volume were among my favorites. Others I enjoyed were “Duty and Honor” by Shing Yin Khor, about a woman and her two lovers, metamours to each other, in space, and “Mourning Tea” by Kori Michele Handwerker, with a watercolor-and-ink look to it and dragons, ghosts, and an agender protagonist. Those are both in the first volume, which won a Lammy Award; in the second, I loved Cat Parra’s story “Found,” with its found-family themes in a postapocalyptic desert.
11. Love Beyond Body, Space & Time: An Indigenous LGBT Sci-Fi Anthology, edited by Hope Nicholson
This rather slim volume is also what it says on the tin, a collection of stories by indigenous (Native American/First Nations) authors, writing science fiction and fantasy with queer characters and themes. The styles vary, including some that would fit in well with an oral tradition or folk tales, to those that are what one might call more “writerly,” but all of them are very readable and very accessible for Native and non-Native readers alike. Darcie Little Badger’s “Né łe!” (reprinted here) is about puppies and queer women of color in space, and Mari Kurasato’s robot-turned-human story, “Impostor Syndrome,” stood out the most to me.
12. Queerly Loving: Volume 1 and Queerly Loving: Volume 2, edited by G. Benson and Astrid Ohlitz
Each of these volumes contains eight or nine stories, all with love as a theme, but not just romantic love: they also feature love among families, friend groups, and between queerplatonic partners. The very first story in the first volume, Sacha Lamb’s “Miss Me With That Gay Shit (Please Don’t),” about queer Jewish teenagers, would be worth the price of either volume alone, but there are sixteen more stories after that, including “Gifts of Spring” by Shira Glassman (whose Knit One, Girl Too I recommended in the Geek Romance list). In the second volume, look for Cameron Van Sant’s story about a space mermaid on a pirate ship, appropriately titled “The Mermaid and the Pirate,” and M. Hollis’s “The Warrior and the Dragon,” about a warrior girl and, well, more than one dragon.
None of these volumes was published by a mainstream, traditional publisher, and several of them were crowdfunded. You might find my name in a couple of them, as a thanks for contributing to the crowdfunding. If you enjoyed any of these, do search out crowdfunding campaigns for queer anthologies in the future. I also received a copy of Queerly Loving, Vol. 2 from one of the contributors (Corey Alexander) in exchange for a review.
With a dozen different anthologies (and multiple volumes of some of them) to choose from, which one sounds the most interesting to you? Let everyone know in the comments!