Science Fiction with Queer Protagonists | Recommendations

Time for some diversity in sci fi. Let me know your recommendations too!


Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer

The Female Man by Joanna Russ

Planetfall by Emma Newman

My Real Children by Jo Walton

The Girl in the Road by Monica Byrne
(warning: terrible video quality!)

Farthing by Jo Walton

Dhalgren by Samuel R. Delany

The Telling by Ursula K. Le Guin

Ammonite by Nicola Griffith

Slow River by Nicola Griffith

Luna: New Moon by Ian McDonald

God’s War by Kameron Hurley
Written Review:

China Mountain Zhang by Maureen F. McHugh

Review Blog:


vldster says:

Richard Morgan The Steel Remains has an openly gay character. It a Sci-fi dark fantasy novel that has addresses the difficulties of being openly gay in a society that is openly hostile to the idea. It also has graphic content so it’s not for everyone.

Eve's Alexandria says:

I’m just going to consider this video a reading list. 🙂 I’m ashamed to say that I haven’t read any of these, despite the fact that I feel like I seek out queer characters. I have lots of them though, so maybe it’s more a function of my ridiculously huge TBR. I’m particularly keen to pick up more Nicola Griffith. I read Hild a couple of years ago, and was absolutely blown away by how nuanced Hild’s sexuality was and the sensitivity with which the book portrays love and sex between women.

thesnake52000 says:

“The World Well Lost” by Theodore Sturgeon was published in 1953. When reading it, I did not expect a gay main character!

Alistair says:

Only vaguely related but you could try On The Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis.
It’s also my pick for the ‘BooktubeSFF awards YA category (I’m NOT a YA reader but this was surprisingly good) and a very diverse cast.

James Chatham says:

Thanks for doing this video! I’ve found it a bit difficult to find good SF with positive queer representation, so I’m glad to now have a list of great-sounding recommendations.

Stephen Scutt says:

Thanks Rachel. I’m going to check out Farthing and Ammonite and I might have another go at Dhalgren (I Picked it up once or twice and got through about 100 pages but put it down. Its heavy going. I know I should read it though… I think my Mum’s still got her original 70’s copy. 🙂 )

Codyline says:

Wait, isn’t Ren bi? Also, this is amazing, thank you. 🙂
I’d bookmarked this a while ago but I don’t know if it’s any good, maybe check it out?

metamorphoses says:

Thank you for this video! Some great books I didn’t know about that I need to check out 🙂
Also, I know it’s not clearly said in the books but Ann Leckie confirmed that Breq is asexual. I talked to her about it at a signing and as she is AI she didn’t want to say she was actual representation as the whole ace = robots isn’t cool. But I asked her if all of Justice of Torent’s segments were ace or if it was Breq as one person now. she answered that it was this segment left that made Breq who she was, that the human side played a part and so all the segments weren’t necessarily ace too. I know it’s not the perfect asexual representation but I thought you would like to know (unless of course you did already). I’m ace as well and was really glad to have this confirmation for myself 🙂

Caroline Denise says:

Great list! One of my favorite is “Ascension” by Jacqueline Koyanagi. The main character, Alana, is a queer and disabled woc and there is a polyamory relationship. I thought the plot was a little weak but the characters make up for it.

FinalBlowJoe says:

I’m surprised by the fact I know all these authors, several I haven’t read anything by yet though. Slow River will be April’s book I think, you’re making me eager to get to it now.

Alexis Gervais says:

Representation does matter, so thanks for listing these! I too have read a few stories with LGBTs but for the love of me can’t remember any. Lately, James S. A. Corey’s short story “The Vital Abyss” has a gay protagonist, if by protagonist we mean a litteral psychopath.

TheShadesofOrange Booktube Channel says:

This is such a fantastic video! Thank you for taking the time to compile this list. I love seeing LGBT+ characters in my fiction and added several of the books you discussed to my TBR. I’ve been wanting to read Emma Newman for a while now and you just gave me another reason to pick up Planetfall. I already had Slow River on my TBR list from one of your previous videos. I think it was one of your favourites from 2016? I’m also interested in trying God’s War. I don’t think I’ve heard about it before.

Katie Marsh says:

I am so happy that books are getting more diverse, especially sff (my favorite genre). As a parent, I am excited for the amount of great inclusive books there will be for my children when they are older!

Yoon Wong says:

The Traitor Baru Cormorant (2015) by Seth Dickinson.
A must-read if you like devastating political chess matches, fully-formed characters and worldbuilding, Ursula-esque social/family structures.

Kelly R says:

Shutter by Joe Keatinge & Leila Del Duca is a SF/F graphic novel series (very weird, but very good) that has a lesbian main character with a trans best friend. Such a very good series that I haven’t seen anyone talk about. I found out about it when my sister got a Landfall Freight box last year or the year before and it included issue #13 of Shutter and made me intrigued enough to go get volume one from my library, and I fell in love with it right away. There are four volumes out so far and I think volume 5 is coming out this year.

kelsyfish says:

This is fantastic!! There are so many books on this list that I haven’t even heard of. Thanks for putting this list together! I’m really excited to read a few of them. 😀

TheSkepticalReader says:

YAS. YAS. YAS. Too Like the Lightning has been on my list for over a year now already. I also remember in the Geek Feminist Revolution, Hurley talks about God’s war in a rather intriguing way. At this point I only have 4 owned SFF books and one of them is still Joanna Russ! The other is another Jo Walton (not Farthing). Isn’t it lovely how lazy I am? 😛

thebookwitchscauldron says:

Just wanted to drop a couple books here to add to the books with queer main characters. The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers features a f/f relationship between two of the main characters. Ninefox Gambit’s main character(s) are both queer (a label is not explicitly given to them).

Amour & Psyche says:

After watching your finishing of Pandora’s Star, I had to subscribe. Thank you for you deep and almost clinical review of books.

LukeLaneReads says:

I’d been looking for science fiction books with specifically gay male protagonists recently, and I hadn’t come across the ones you mentioned while researching. So thanks for that!

MissNausicaa87 says:

Great suggestions, some of these have been on my radar for a long time, it is good to remember I need to read them :)Thank you!

machinaheart says:

What a lovely, lovely list with so many new books for me to check out. Thank you very, very much! And I really loved you stressing the importance of bi visibility :3

Unicorn Hunter Books says:

Thanks for making this video! These books sound so amazing.
Ninefox Gambit was written by a trans author, and I haven’t read it yet, but I’m pretty sure it deals with trans or genderfluid characters.

funningincircles says:

Lois McMaster-Bujold’s VorKosigan series has several… Ethan of Athos might be the only “main” character in the series to be homosexual, but the main love interest in Shards of Honor, Barayar, and Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen are bi, and there is a trans character in A Civil Campaign…

Bert Van der Auwera says:

I know you don’t like it but “The Forever War” by Haldamen clearly deals with homosexuality also. i Know I haven’t read the book, but the graphic novel is brilliant. Probably because it doesn’t do the things you dislike about it ( and from what I can tell, I wouldn’t also). Still it does make a very pronounced gay point. Averting overpopulation by promoting homosexuaity.

Common Touch of Fantasy says:

I’ll have to check some of these out. I know a lot of them I’ve seen you read over the years. I read a lack of gay men in a lot of my SFF. There seems to be a lot less gay men than gay/bi women and a lot of times the part of the men being gay is a part of the tension in the story.

ncasson81 says:

Thank you so much for sharing these titles!

tarabyt3 says:

I’m reading Too Like the Lightning now and I’m very confused but it’s growing on me. Great video. I hope one day we don’t need to make videos like these because it’s commonplace, but until then, it’s important. So many good ones I haven’t read yet, too.

Katie Loves to Read says:

Joe has being encouraging me to pick up Luna New Moon but I didn’t know it had bisexual rep so now I’m excited to get to it. Viral Airwaves is an #ownvoices asexual sci-fi novel I was recommended, not sure what the authors name is or where our main character falls on the romantic attraction spectrum. I agree though, we definitely need more ace SFF.

WoolfsWhistle says:

Can you tell that I’ve been waiting for this video? Anyway I was! Thank you so much for this list! I’m really bad at reading sci-fi genre so far, so it’ll come in handy because I want to work on it 🙂

Kitty G says:

Rachel this video is excellent. Glad to say I’ve read a fair few and own some of the others and am more excited to read them now 🙂

Anne Marsh says:

The Left Hand of Darkness, also by Le Guin– one of the major characters (and their entire alien race) are genderqueer by nature. They spend most of the time being agendered and then become either male or female, and will generally be both more than once over the course of their lifetime, and so the norm is to be this mix of asexual and bisexual, based on the rhythm of your genderfluidity over the course of your lifetime. And for the main character, who is from earth, in addition to his wanting to fulfill his objective on this alien planet, he has an internal journey of discovering that gender doesn’t mean what he once thought it did– both in terms of gender norms in general as he adjusts to what’s normal on this other planet, but also in terms of who he himself is attracted to/capable of developing feelings for.

It’s really interesting, in that it was written as a feminist sci-fi novel back before there was really anything out there on gender beyond the binary, and the editors wound up assigning default male pronouns to characters against Le Guin’s wishes, but it’s still just… it’s really good, and despite the default binary gendering of non-binary characters, really shows that gender and sexuality are not essential parts of what makes a person human. I cannot stop recommending this book– it was never intended to be queer lit and yet it fills a hugely unexplored gap where genderqueer-ness is concerned.

ClarisseReads says:

Thank you so much for this! I’ve been trying to read more diverse sci-fi (and fantasy) lately, but most of the ones on my radar were diverse in terms of race, setting or author nationality, and not so much in sexuality – I’ve added a lot of these to my wishlist!

witchie says:

I haven’t read ANY of these. Thanks so much for the recs!

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