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Beyond Binary: Genderqueer and Sexually Fluid Speculative Fiction
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Beyond Binary: Genderqueer and Sexually Fluid Speculative Fiction

3.51  ·  Rating Details  ·  205 Ratings  ·  42 Reviews
Speculative fiction is the literature of questions, of challenges and imagination, and what better to question than the ways in which gender and sexuality have been rigidly defined, partitioned off, put in little boxes? These seventeen stories explore the ways in which identity can go beyond binary from space colonies to small college towns, from angels to androids, and fr ...more
276 pages
Published May 2012 by Lethe Press
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Is expecting a book subtitled "Genderqueer and Sexually Fluid Speculative Fiction" to provide speculative fiction stories about genderqueer characters too much to ask for? Apparently so, if this collection is any indication. It's not that I didn't enjoy any of the stories. It's that almost none of them lived up to the book's label. (Bisexuality is not the same thing as sexual fluidity. Being transgendered is different from being genderqueer.) This is particularly frustrating because this is a co ...more
Jul 16, 2012 Sarah rated it really liked it
My flight back from Readercon was delayed by several hours, so I got to read this anthology cover to cover. I usually prefer to break up the reading of a themed anthology, but there was enough variety in this one to keep me engaged. I particularly liked the Kelley Eskridge story. I would have loved to see even more variety, both in the types of speculative fiction and in the expected breadth inherent in the "beyond binary" label. Still, taken individually, most of these stories are strong; taken ...more
Bending The Bookshelf
Oct 10, 2013 Bending The Bookshelf rated it liked it
Shelves: transgender
Brit Mandelo is something of a queer genre celebrity, having served as the senior fiction editor for Strange Horizons Magazine, while also leading the discussions on Queering SFF for Tor Books. It was actually an early piece of her on Tiptree Award Winners that first brought her to my attention, and I’ve been relying on her to expand my bookshelf ever since.

Beyond Binary is a collection of previously published Genderqueer and Sexually Fluid Speculative Fiction stories that I'd been looking forwa
Aug 08, 2012 Cow rated it it was ok
Shelves: rainbow, short-story
I was so excited when I first read about this book and the early reviews.

But no.

There are a few good pieces in here. "Eye of the Storm" by Kelley Eskridge was both amazing and mind-blowing, and made up for so much of the rest of this book. But at that point, you should probably just pick up her own personal anthology, Dangerous Space. A few of the stories toward the end were good, too, although none super stand-out.

Aside from the one story above, the best thing I can say is that most of these ar
Jun 19, 2012 Beans rated it it was ok
For a book called "Beyond Binary," this book was ... really binary. There were two or three stories where the narrator or main character is not assigned a gender but most are either male or female - and often it's not a particularly large component of the story if the character identifies or is identified as trans* in any way.

Beyond that, I wasn't particularly impressed with any of the stories. There were a handful I enjoyed but none that really stood out to me. It was kind of a struggle to kee
A.C. Wise
Dec 09, 2012 A.C. Wise rated it it was amazing
Beyond Binary is an incredibly strong reprint anthology, showcasing tales of fluid gender and sexuality. Of the stories I'd read elsewhere, the two stand-outs were Kelly Eskridge's Eye of the Storm and Catherynne M. Valente's Palimpsest. I was delighted to see both included, particularly Eskridge's piece, as it has lingered with me since I first read it years ago, and it perfectly encapsulates the theme of the collection. The stories which were new to me that really stood out were Nalo Hopkinson ...more
Sep 04, 2015 Kit rated it liked it
Well, that was overwhelmingly binary.

When an anthology is subtitled "Genderqueer and Sexually Fluid Speculative Fiction", I'm naturally going to go in assuming a fair number of the stories will be about genderqueer or otherwise nonbinary people, you know? But the vast majority of these stories were either about cisgender queer people (including cisgender queer people whose narratives gave no hint of them being actually sexually fluid) or about binary trans* people. And don't get me wrong, I love
For a book that claims to be "beyond binary" and "genderqueer," the almost complete lack of either in this anthology is astonishing. (Doubly so since it's full of reprints.) Most stories paid lip service at best via some bisexuality (and often fleeting at that), and for a book that promised no surprise reveal of genitals as a punch line, one of the stories in fact does just that.

The best thing about this book is Kelley Eskridge's "Eye of the Storm" which really is just reminding me that I've had
Sep 07, 2014 Megan rated it really liked it
Shelves: queer, scifi, trans, asexuality
Really appreciate the diversity of identities on display in this anthology, as well as the varying degrees of focus the stories place on gender and sexual identity -- some stories are focused largely on identity, others treat identity as a given, only marginally relevant to the story at hand. Glad to see asexuality represented here -- in Sarah Kanning's "Sex with Ghosts" -- interestingly, both Kanning's story and Tobi Hill-Meyer's "Self-Reflection" have to do with a character encountering hersel ...more
Overall, I really liked the anthology. There where stories I didnt like because the plot wasn't of interest to me. A good example was the pirate story. I like the idea of computer hackers as pirates but I couldn't connected with the drinking of rum as a medium to reincarnation and possession. I liked Fisherman by Nalo Hopkinson. It was grounded in a reality of experience that I believe could have existed in a different era. I also really adored Spoiling Veena! Veena knew that Vikrum was truly wh ...more
Aug 27, 2012 Christopher rated it it was amazing
I read this back in June but forgot to rate and review. The selections are all good to great, but I got my money's worth from Delia Sherman's "Faery Cony-Catcher" and Richard Larson's "The Ghost Party". Valente's story, "Palimpsest," was nice to see here, too, particularly since her novel of the same name often eclipses the story that was its seed. The Kelly Eskridge story was one I had not come across before, and it was wonderful, as were the Sandra McDonald and Ellen Kushner stories.

Kudos to
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 28, 2012 Valerie rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Fans of speculative fiction, fans of "Swordspoint"
Recommended to Valerie by: Amazon Daily blog
Meh. A couple of good stories and quite a few that are so oblique they are almost incoherent (and I'm not interested enough to invest the time to decipher them). Starts stronger than it finishes...and if I hadn't read the title of the anthology or the introductory essay, I wouldn't have guessed the common theme.
T.C. Mill
Jan 13, 2014 T.C. Mill rated it really liked it
Recently, I’ve started seeking out fiction, especially speculative fiction, about trans and genderqueer characters. A call out for ideas on Twitter resulted in this book being recommended to me. As several other reviewers have said, Beyond Binary isn’t always as “beyond binary” as it could have been, and I’m puzzled at the inclusion of some of these stories, but it does form a diverse and excellent sampler of LGBT fiction from leading authors in the field. Some names I recognized before going pa ...more
Richard Larson
Mar 07, 2012 Richard Larson rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
I'm in this book, but don't let that stop you. These are urgent, important stories, and I hope they get read by lots and lots of people.
Dec 28, 2014 Jill rated it liked it
I was soooo excited when I saw this, that I bought it. I never buy books. If they aren't at the library, then I resign myself to never reading them. But I had to have it! Which is probably why I was so very disappointed when half the stories didn't live up to my expectations.

Stories I did very much enjoy included "Eye of the Storm", "Fisherman","Bleaker Collegiate Presents", "Self-Reflection", and "The Metamorphosis Bud". I think I liked these because there was a playful lightness, a joy in disc
I'm rating this three stars only because a few of the stories, in particular "Eye of the Storm," "Fisherman," and "Bonehouse," are worth reading. That said, I was disappointed by Beyond Binary because it occasionally lacked the genderqueer and sexually fluid components in stories while other stories lacked the genre of speculative fiction unless someone realllly stretched the genre. In other words, the theme of the collection does not come across consistently through the stories selected.

I foun
Sep 04, 2012 Lauren rated it really liked it
This is a fascinating and much-needed anthology. While I thought some of the stories were less daring than others--or, for whatever reason, less appealing to me personally--the majority were excellent: well-written, thought-provoking, and a pleasure to read. I'd like to talk just a little bit about my favorites, focusing on those that worked exceptionally well both as stories and as considerations of gender and sexuality.

"Sea of Cortez" is barely SFF--there's precognition or prophesy that doesn'
Carol March
Jun 10, 2013 Carol March rated it really liked it
Review for Beyond Binary.

I really enjoyed this collection of stories about people redefining sexual identity and gender. The stories are all speculative fiction, reprinted from a variety of speculative fiction magazines and anthologies. They range from the slightly different to the quite strange, and some are more accessible than others, but all are well written and worth reading. The choices are a good selection of the editor calls “sexually fluid”, one of my current favorite phrases. Several
Jan 30, 2013 Samuel rated it really liked it
For those who're TLDR - I suggest reading the book, because it's good.

This collection first came to my attention because it’s got “Eye of the Storm – Kelley Eskridge” in it; I love the story so I decided to buy the collection. It turned out, though, to have many more stories I ended up enjoying! I’ve decided to review the collection story by story, since I’m unsure how to discuss theme without spoilers. While I won’t be giving plot specific spoilers, I do mention my emotions/impressions of the s
Sep 05, 2013 Char rated it really liked it
Not gunna lie, the title of this book gave the impression it would be full of stories about people of many various gender identities. However, all except a couple were about transgender people and quite a few were about cisgender hetero/bisexual people. Don't get me wrong, it's nice to see representation of these groups, but there is already a lot more representation for them than for agender/third gender/genderfluid/androgynous/etc. people, which is what I was looking for and what I was expecti ...more
Più fantasi che sci-fi i racconti che sono riuscita a leggere di questa antologia che non mi ha preso ed ho trovato tanto faticosa da abbandonarla per momenti futuri. Nessuno dei racconti mi ha preso, a volte surreali, spesso sospesi e incomprensibili. Stili diversi caratterizzati, in toria, dal raccontare personaggi con una fluidità di genere ma in realtà da un faticoso e lento scorrere delle narrazioni.
Jul 13, 2015 Diane rated it it was ok
I think the title is misleading. Or, what I think of as genderqueer or sexually fluid isn't the same as the editor. A few were interesting and one was actually funny but overall most were "ehh?". I kept reading hoping for provocative but it never really happened.
Kirk Sluder
Nov 08, 2013 Kirk Sluder rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, sci-fi, lgbt
An interesting collection. Mandelo takes a big tent perspective on genderqueer and sexual fluidity, necessary because it's not always appropriate within the frame of a fictional setting to apply contemporary labels.

As with many collections, I found the stories to be hit or miss, primarily due to writing and structure rather than issues of sexuality. "Eye of the Storm" is one of the better stories in the collection, but it comes early. "Shrodinger's Pussy" is a free-wheeling surrealist narrative
Feb 14, 2015 Shomeret rated it it was ok
The only story I was impressed with was the one by Kelly Eskridge. It was conceptually original and beautifully written. Other stories didn't interest me, seemed superficial or had problems with their implementation. So the average was C for me.
Tommy Carlson
Jan 07, 2013 Tommy Carlson rated it liked it
Interesting set of short stories promising to smash the boundaries of traditional relationships. But, honestly, it didn't feel all that ground-breaking. I'm a straight white guy from the suburbs. Okay, I'm more open-minded than most. Still, nothing here made me sit back and think "wow." So, I think, given the title, the collection is more tepid than it should be.

That said, most of the stories are good. As with any collection, each reader will find some which really resonate and some which fall f
Jul 20, 2012 Heather rated it really liked it
A great collection, though it's somewhat unbalanced--as a whole, the stories in the beginning are much better. I found myself wishing that more of the stories dealt with elements other than sex, because gender identity doesn't have to hinge on the type of sex you are having or who you're having it with. There's only one asexual protag, and there seems to be a preponderance of lesbians. For my money, the stand out stories are:

Sea of Cortez
Eye of the Storm
The Faerie Cony-Catcher
Bleaker C
Doesn't actually have any stories featuring genderqueer characters, but some of the stories were very enjoyable. Will definitely be checking out some of the authors.
Aug 19, 2014 BeckBe rated it did not like it
Shelves: gave-up-on
I wanted so much for this. I really did. However, it reads like (really bad) fanfic. It's almost as hilariously bad as that book of femme/femme erotica that I tried to read once.
Brandon Desiderio
Oct 10, 2015 Brandon Desiderio rated it it was amazing
Really great short fiction in here—and all very subversively queer, as a whole. Loved it and highly recommended!
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Goodreads Librari...: Add Book to Riverside Series 5 17 May 23, 2013 07:57PM  
  • The Collection: Short Fiction from the Transgender Vanguard
  • Bending the Landscape: Fantasy
  • Beyond: the Queer Sci-Fi & Fantasy Comic Anthology
  • Boys Like Her: Transfictions
  • Take Me There: Trans and Genderqueer Erotica
  • GenderQueer: Voices From Beyond the Sexual Binary
  • Steam-Powered:  Lesbian Steampunk Stories
  • Nina Here Nor There: My Journey Beyond Gender
  • Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics
  • The Nearest Exit May Be Behind You
  • So Fey: Queer Fairy Fiction
  • Sex Changes: The Politics of Transgenderism
  • Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History
  • Fist of the Spider Woman: Tales of Fear and Queer Desire
  • Diana Comet and Other Improbable Stories
  • Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation
  • The Other Half of the Sky
  • Dangerous Space

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