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Meanwhile, Elsewhere: Science Fiction and Fantasy from Transgender Writers

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Brand new from Topside Press, twenty-five transgender writers imagine different worlds in Meanwhile, Elsewhere: Science Fiction & Fantasy from Transgender Writers.

The #1 post-reality generation device approved for home use! This manual will prepare you to travel from multiverse to multiverse. No experience is required. Choose from twenty-five preset post-realities! Rejoice at obstacles unquestionably bested and conflicts efficiently resolved. Bring denouement to your drama with THE FOOLPROOF AUGMENTATION DEVICE FOR OUR CONTEMPORARY UTOPIA.

447 pages, Paperback

First published September 5, 2017

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Cat Fitzpatrick

6 books18 followers

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 89 reviews
Profile Image for Mir.
4,845 reviews5,003 followers
December 28, 2018
This was a very strong collection of stories. A few recurrent themes (commodification of the body, for instance) crop up, I assume independently, although some of the authors may know each other, not sure. I did notice that more than one characters shops at No Frills in Toronto. Is this some trans-Canadian joke, or is it a code for being broke? I'd never heard of this chain.

Anyway, out of 25 stories there were maybe two I thought were weak and a couple more that I gave up on because they were long or hard to follow (sorry, I don't text, I don't know what those symbols even mean) but for an anthology of what seems to be fairly newish authors that is a very strong showing.

To read further:
Rachel K Zall (I am a sucker for "secret private spaces")
RJ Edwards ("What Cheer": pod person Christmas!)
Trish Salah (Maybe. I didn't love "It Can Grow!" but I feel like the author would be better at a longer format. I wasn't sure what Duke's role in the story was or what was going on with the amoeba)
Calvin Gimpelevich (I ordered this as a precursor to see if I wanted to get this author's solo volume, and I do).
Ayse Devrim is a really fun writer.
Paige Bryony (Maybe. I'm not usually up for this dark, but it was strong)
Dane Figueroa Edidi (Let's crank the PNR to 11!)
Nat Buchbinder (I approve of alien alienation)
Brendan Williams-Childs
Profile Image for CaseyTheCanadianLesbrarian.
1,117 reviews1,342 followers
November 16, 2017
Oh my God this is an amazing anthology with a huge variety of incredibly inventive, hilarious, and moving science fiction and fantasy stories by trans authors. I was totally blown away by how great the stories were. There were honestly only a few that I didn't love. It's just an astoundingly good collection. Full review here!
Profile Image for Sally.
Author 126 books303 followers
September 7, 2017
Meanwhile, Elsewhere: Science Fiction and Fantasy from Transgender Writers is, in a word, brilliant. You want other words? Okay, how about fantastic, original, engaging, wondrous, amusing, exciting, arousing, and intellectually stimulating. Fair enough, that last one was two words, but it needed to be said.

Multi-author anthologies are always a hit-or-miss proposition, even when built around a theme, but Cat Fitzpatrick & Casey Plett have done an astounding job here. Sure, there were a few stories that did not really resonate with me, but there were so many that had me committing the cardinal sins of dog-earing pages and highlighting passages that I can hardly complain.

Rather than run through the whole collection, I would like to do something different, and count down my fave fives in the collection . . . only, there is no way I can pick just five, so I guess we will have to settle for the more clichéd top ten.

10. Rent, Don't Sell by Calvin Gimplevich - This one starts out with the old staple of body-swapping, but puts some interesting twists on it. There is the typical joyriding by the rich, a creative means of personal training, and what seems to be a brilliant solution to gender dysphoria . . . but with a final emotional twist that I adored.

9. What Cheer by RJ Edwards - A weird bit of sci-fi, this one puts a more thoughtful, heartfelt spin on the idea of alien body snatchers. What would you do, if a perfect clone of yourself hatched before your eyes, and only had a few short days to experience humanity?

8. Control by Rachel K. Zall - On the surface, this is simply the story of an illicit affair between transgender lovers from different sides of the tracks, but the Orwellian influences give it a perfect edge that carries over into their frantic eroticism. It also had some of my favorite images and descriptions, including this gem:

Specks sparkled in the moonlight; they could have been tiny diamonds of miniature polished skulls. She fell through the glittering cloud and landed on top of him, grabbing his hair and smashing her lips into his. His little cock was hard between his thighs; her clit was tenting her skirt.

7. Gamers by Imogen Binnie - This one had a definite nostalgic element for me, and one that really just tickled my fancy. I have never really been a gamer, but I do have an old-school passion for Zelda, so Samara's story . . . well, it just made me smile.

6. Thieves and Lovers by Emma Addams - This is a story about role playing, costumes, identities, secrets, and more, but with a sci-fi twist. Imagine if you will a world of wearable holograms, one where themed genre bars exist. There is a lovely story here of attraction and seduction, contrasting dreams with reality, and it all just clicks.

5. The Gift by Ryka Aoki - This is probably the least progressive story in terms of technology, but the most progressive in terms of attitudes. It was a sweet, easy-going, uplifting story of coming out as transgender and being immediately loved and accepted. My heart still swells over this one.

4. Delicate Bodies by Bridget Liang - When being transgender is so often treated by like a disease, and when so much of society treats you as a monstrous freak, maybe becoming a sentient flesh-eating zombie isn't such a bad thing. This was a fantastic story, equal parts dark and quirky, with a truly brilliant final paragraph.

3. Themyscira by Colette Arrand - I think a big part of the appeal here was in how it subverted my expectations. Here we have an island of voluntary exiles, with one young woman feeling out of place due to being the only one with a penis - at least, until another transgender girl washes up on shore. This one pairs well with Delicate Bodies, looking at gender as a disease, and exploring how it infects those around us.

2. Matchmaker by Dane Figueroa Edidi - In terms of sheer story, this is far-and-away my favorite in the collection. This could have been a blockbuster sized epic novel, and I still would have wanted more. A magic-fueled urban fantasy, full of colorful characters, plot twists, and betrayals, it hinges on the simple idea that a transwoman could be close enough to the Goddess to be a witch, but it is so much more than that.

1. Satan, Are You There? It's Me, Laura by Aisling Fae - No other story in the collection amused me, delighted me, and entertained me quite like this. This is a gloriously blasphemous story about a girl who tried to summon Satan and got God in disguise, and who then goes on to play matchmaker for the star-crossed lovers. It is full of so many little moments, so many clever deconstructions of religion, but it all boils down to this:

"What do you think people would think, if they knew their terrible Devil was some tranny and their God a fag?"

Perhaps the best collection of transgender fiction I have ever had the pleasure of reading, Meanwhile, Elsewhere: Science Fiction and Fantasy from Transgender Writers has only one small flaw, and that is the absence of author biographies. Maybe they are just missing from the ARCs, and will show up in the finished product but, damn it, I want to know more about my sisters!

As reviewed by Sally at Bending the Bookshelf
Profile Image for Corvus.
563 reviews147 followers
April 20, 2019
I have to admit that Meanwhile Elsewhere and I got off to a rough start. I was very excited about reading this book as it's been on my to-read list since it came out. Perhaps my expectations were a bit high. One of the stories really let me down, but I am glad I didn't give up on it, because some of the stories are excellent.

The first story is erotica, which is not my bag, but the second story- Delicate Bodies by Bridget Liang- made me put the book down and ask if I wanted to read a collection edited by people that would include a story like this. It is a zombie story and a rape fantasy in which the protagonist- a trans woman who is obviously the author's zombie self- rapes and tortures cis men who have said mean things about her or refused to have sex with her because she is trans. I am not sure how much worse the mens offenses were because I quit after the second rape. Not only is rape and torture the punishment, the men are portrayed as deserving it and eventually liking the rapes. It is the epitome of rape culture, which we as trans people are not immune from promoting. This story makes that very clear. Did we really need a story portraying a trans woman as a sexual predator? The story itself doesn't even fit with the theme the editors claim they chose for the book and it is a horror story, not SF/F. I then saw a review or two in which some people claimed this was one of their favorite stories. I was disgusted by this as well. The author obviously being the rapist in the story is extra worrisome and fucked up. So, here I am, devoting a large chunk of my review to this one disgusting story that almost made me put the book down and wonder if it was included solely because the author had some sort of connection.

I eventually gave myself some space, calmed down, and decided to continue this highly anticipated read. The book does get infinitely better as it goes on. There are definitely not anymore rape fantasy horror stories. It's a mixed bag like any anthology, but many are well written and entertaining. Some of the stories seem all about being trans which was a little disappointing to me. I was hoping that a book like this would showcase more that we have talents outside of talking about transition. That said, in the afterword, the editors claim this was a conscious decision- to not choose stories that just happen to have trans characters, but to choose ones that center being trans. In other ways, stories that centered this imagined futures where transition related issues are thought of and orchestrated in different ways. This was definitely interesting. There is some real variation in topics across the stories. Like any collection, it's hit or miss, but the stories that I did like, I really liked, hence the higher rating.

The best stories in the book, according to my personal tastes, are:
(In order of appearance in the text)
"What Cheer" by RJ Edwards
"Rent, Don't Sell" by Calvin Gimpelevich
"Control Shift Down" by Paige Bryony
"After the Big One" by Cooper Lee Bombardier
"Cybervania" by Cybil Lamb
"Imago" by Tristan Alice Nieto

This does not mean all other stories were bad. These ones in particular, though, were the ones that led me to seek out the authors online and find out if they have written any books I could add to my list.

Overall, this is an important collection in that it showcases many talented trans writers who may otherwise go unnoticed. It contains one highly objectionable rapey trash story that I believe folks would do well to skip or at least go in heeding my warning. It contains a whole lot of stories that not only have good consent politics woven in, but good style and plot. I grabbed a copy of "I've Got a Time Bomb" by Sybil Lamb right after reading her story, I adored it so much. So, this is definitely worth a read as far as SF/F collections go. It's one of the better ones, and not just because it has trans people in it.

This review was also posted to my blog.
Profile Image for Alan.
1,086 reviews106 followers
November 29, 2021
Are you a girl, or a boy?
You can't be both.
You can't be neither.
You can't be one and then the other.
You can't—you can't—you can't—

Do you want men, or women?
You can't want both.
You can't want neither.
You can't want one and then the other.
You can't—

But what if? What if you could? What if you can? What if you are?

It does no harm to speculate. These are just words on a page, on a screen. They cannot change who you are.

But maybe, sometimes, words can help you figure out just who that is.


Here's the thing: these stories were written by transgender writers—and, although I didn't find this out until reading their Afterword, the editors (Cat Fitzpatrick and Casey Plett) intended this anthology primarily for trans readers as well. And the "trans" is often short for transgressive, as well—these stories step over, erase, or just plain ignore a whole slew of boundaries.

Strictly speaking, Meanwhile, Elsewhere wasn't written for me. But, even so, there's a lot I liked, and a lot for any SF fan to like, in this anthology from 2017.


The stories, in order, with my (admittedly awkward and superficial) reactions to each one:

"Control," by Rachel K. Zall.
Okay, so we're starting out in the deep end with this first entry, which is pretty raw, but grownups can and should be able to handle it. To keep control.
"They don't score people! That's a conspiracy theory," the 96 laughed.
The graphic trans sex isn't even the point of this brief dystopian fantasy.

"Delicate Bodies," by Bridget Liang.
I got an immediate chuckle out of Beryl's "Value Village blouse," having spent a fair amount of time in those second-hand stores myself. Liang manages an interesting transition from generic to specific too, early on:
Was she maybe on that drug, bath salts?
Before Beryl could react, Bath Salts attacked her like a wild animal.
The problem wasn't bath salts at all, of course.
This is maybe not the best story to read over lunch, featuring as it does a zombie apocalypse, but then,
Being human is overrated.
Oh, and one pro tip for the adults in the room: .

"What Cheer," by RJ Edwards.
"You should do what I did after I came out and move two thousand miles away. Does wonders for the mental health."
I don't know what they learned while they were here. I don't think they really learned anything.
Between these two quotes, I think you'll catch the flavor of this story about an enigmatic alien visitor.

"Satan, Are You There? It's Me, Laura," by Aisling Fae.
It's hard enough being a human confronting the Lord of Hell... and harder still when you have to try to patch things up with the Other Side. I have to admit, I sputtered with laughter at the last line of this story, in which Laura tries to summon Satan and gets... not at all what she expected.

"It Can Grow!!!," by Trish Salah.
Titular bangorrhea aside, I did like this one...
Lily is the kind who fancies herself the nerd in the couple even when they're both nerds in the couple. "Firefly, sure, but let's talk Farscape!"
Also gets points from me for name-checking Imogen Binnie (see below).

It was at about this point that I tumbled to the fact that this anthology is very Canadian.

"Rent, Don't Sell," by Calvin Gimpelevich.
You could not have a body without a mind, and you could not have two minds in one body. She wasn't sure if those restrictions were legal or technical, but that's what they said in the training.

"No Comment," by Ayse Devrim.
All we needed to tear the human sex binary a new one was advanced 3D tissue printers, six months of scans, and an intense pharmaceutical regimen supplementing two full-day operations. Not quite as easy as in an internet magical forced feminization story, but still, she'd made it through enough surgeries and could make it through more, if that's what it would take.

"Control Shift Down," by Paige Bryony.
If griefers and dudebros ran the world (oh, wait...)
Turns out people are a lot easier to rape than machines.

"After the Big One," by Cooper Lee Bombardier.
More like after—then during—then after again. This Pacific Northwest-centered story (from a Portland author!) asks: if gender is (only) a social construct, then what happens when society stops being around to construct it?

"Using a Treadmill, You Can Run Until Exhaustion Without Moving," by Sadie Avery.
Even Mars isn't far enough away for some problems.

"Notes from a Hunter Boy," by Beckett K. Bauer.
Are you eggy? A very different kind of binary propels this one.

"Themyscira," by Colette Arrand.
I can remember my parents grumbling, in the distant past, about being forced to think of themselves as part of a larger whole than they'd previously considered possible.

I began waking up in the middle of the night from dreams where my sisters hated me or loved me for reasons I hated.

"Cybervania," by Sybil Lamb.
Yes, you are smart and funny and weird and have great music chops, but so do most of my other half dozen lovers between Cybertopia and Cyberopolis.
Lamb turns this one up 'way past 11.

"Under the Rainbow," by Janey Lovebomb.
Everythin' yore li'l heart desires, brought to you by the mysterious owner of a spooky mansion—what could go wrong?

"Heat Death of Western Human Arrogance," by M Téllez.
I cannot tell what her plants feel because using words has distanced me from them.

Human-identified love relationships are pleasing. We learn about intimate behavior from our partners and that's beneficial. But they do not seem mutual.
Take your pick... freedom of choice is not always a luxury.

"Thieves and Lovers," by Emma Addams.
Off to a strong start:
There were three Bogarts but only two Bacalls tonight. Some unlucky Bogie would be going home alone, unless they were all feeling adventurous.
Later on,
Sylvia had gone to one of their social events and by the fourth time she heard the word "problematic" she made an excuse and left.

"Matchmaker," by Dane Figueroa Edidi.
Now, of course, you're probably thinking, isn't she a Matchmaker, don't most Matchmakers feel bubbly and joyful about connecting people in love, etc. Truth is, while I take great pride in my abilities, sometimes people just get on my fucking nerves.

"Schwaberow, Ohio," by Brendan Williams-Childs.
Quaint is a word for people who don't have knives.
I will bleed on anybody who disagrees with me.

"It's Called Fashion," by Kaj Worth.
This one comes close to deconstructing the very idea of story—it's almost unreadable, at first. Almost. But something's happening here, even though what it is ain't exactly clear

"Gamers," by Imogen Binnie.
Imagine having that information while you were digging yourself the twin ruts of male-coded videogaming and shame that you'd spend the rest of your life trying to dig your way out of.
I liked Binnie's novel Nevada when I read it back in 2013, too.

"Imago," by Tristan Alice Nieto.
Tabitha was dead, to begin with—but that doesn't mean she's off the hook. A SF story with a singularly grim conceit, set amid a pandemic even worse than our own.

"Kid Ghost," by Nat Buchbinder.
Or, "Kid Ghost Wises Up"—this one's not so much about being trans as it is about being (or becoming) a useful monster.

"The Gift," by Ryka Aoki.
A complete and utter fantasy, and all the more heartbreaking for that.

"Visions," by Morgan M. Page.
An enigmatic destiny: two people come together on a bridge, wanting... to be seen? Or unseen? Or never seen at all?

"Angels Are Here to Help You," by Jeanne Thornton.
This final story starts off really well, its lurid energy reminding me of Jeff Noon...
With the money she'd embezzled from her cat, Viola bought a mid-market warp drive kit and started to construct her spaceship.
Although "Angels" succumbs to self-parody midway through by hypering every hyperthing to the hyper-degree, its ending hits a positive (but not hyper-positive) note:
Pretend that the rest of your life was the aberration. Pretend you have the confidence you need. Try, try so hard.

Meanwhile, Elsewhere concludes with an Afterword, the usual Acknowledgements, and Author Biographies, several of which point directly back to Portland, Oregon, as well as to various locations north of the border.

Perhaps, to end this one, I should also reproduce this Disclaimer from the anthology's back cover:
Meanwhile, Elsewhere not legally approved for use in medical settings. Side effects may include: headaches, graphomania, optimism, alcoholism, romance, wearing plaid, breast growth and/or removal, et cetera. The futures portrayed in this book may or may not exist, ever. Manufacturer is not responsible for any personal catharsis.
Profile Image for B.P. Gregory.
Author 33 books85 followers
May 28, 2017
What are we reading?: Meanwhile, Elsewhere, Science Fiction and Fantasy from Transgender Writers, edited by Cat Fitzpatrick and Casey Plett.

Give me the short version: Tired of the same old from your science fiction? Looking for the next read that’ll remind you how it feels to be alive?

Back in the good old university days one of the authors published in Meanwhile, Elsewhere used to boggle my mind and pith my nightmares with her tales, so I was lucky enough to nab an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

Like all anthologies there were a couple of stories that brought neither highs nor lows and a bunch I absolutely loved, and that had me scrambling to buy more more more from their authors. With Meanwhile, Elsewhere being such a wonderfully chunky publication (twenty-five tales) there’s something for everybody.

A few I really enjoyed included the intriguing possibilities and cruel legal tangles of Calvin Gimpelevich’s body-swapping Rent, Don’t Sell; the brutal compassion and street justice of Paige Bryony’s voyeuristic Control Shift Down; and the quiet lonely worry of space travel that Sadie Avery painted in Using a Treadmill You Can Run Until Exhaustion Without Moving.

Collette Arrand’s dreamy stylised island quarantine of Themyscira is a good one to have a pause and a quiet think after; the crazy high-octane trash-cyberpunk of Sybil Lamb’s Cybervania was a personal, personal favourite; and of course the frail beauty and sweet mournful introspection of Tristan Alice Nieto’s lovely resurrectionist piece Imago.

My favourite bit: “Far from the fairytale meeting of love across distant realms, it was usually a confused and perverse confrontation as people tried in vain to locate a tiny fragment of the person they once knew within the talking pile of human remains that wore their lover’s skin.” – Imago, Tristan Alice Nieto.
Profile Image for Danika at The Lesbrary.
511 reviews1,262 followers
October 28, 2017
As always in an anthology, some of these were bigger hits than others, but overall I really enjoyed these. Tons of sapphic stories, too! Some of the first stories were so fascinating, I could easily write essays about them.

The stories vary a lot. There are more sci fi stories than fantasy, and more trans women than nonbinary or trans men main characters. The plots vary from someone quietly ruminating in space about microaggressions to intense cyberpunk... cyber post-punk? In fact, quite a few of the stories have a punk undertone.

Definite trigger warnings for transphobia, transmisogyny, violence, gore, and rape. In fact, the one story I had a problem with is Delicate Bodies, in which the main character is a zombie who rapes and then kills her ex-boyfriends/crushes. I get the zombie revenge fantasy, but I was honestly getting nauseated reading about her brutally raping multiple people, and the text seems to suggest that they deserve it. They may have been jerks, but they didn't do anything comparable. That soured the collection for me.
Profile Image for Bogi Takács.
Author 55 books564 followers
February 15, 2018
Finished, but I'm not going to review it now, because I'm considering the stories in it for Transcendent 3!

Source of the book: Print ARC from publisher
Profile Image for Monika.
508 reviews146 followers
September 17, 2017
This is one of those I-loved-it-so-much-where-do-I-even-start!?! kind of reviews.

First off, it took me almost 4 months to read this anthology of short stories because I did not want the book to end. I savored each and every story. I love speculation fiction, I'm super picky about sci-fi, and I don't have much success with fantasy. But I cannot think of a single story in this book that didn't delight. All of them were fantastic and fierce.

Calvin Gimpelevich's "Rent, Don't Sell" (about body switching and its impact on one's identity) was a speculative fiction lover's dream. "Imago" by Tristan Alice Nieto is about coming back from the dead (for a little while, and as an undead) and the parallels to transitioning were surprisingly poignant:

"I get a message from a friend. They're sorry that they haven't called yet, but they're still in shock. They don't know if they're going to be able to see me like this. They're really, really sorry.
Everyone's so fucking sorry."

"Delicate Bodies" by Bridget Liang was one of my favorites. Think zombie apocalypse with a twist. The protagonist, Beryl, is Chinese-Canadian, from a Buddhist family, a trans woman, vegetarian, and... a zombie. It's dark and twisted and horrifyingly WTF but holy moly, somehow SO funny! Lots of social commentary packed into this one. This story is decidedly feminist, intersectional, and downright brilliant.

These stories are incredibly diverse in perspective, imagination, and style. Best of all, I ended up with a slew of new-to-me writers to keep an eye on! Don't miss out on this one.
Profile Image for Evelynn McKay.
35 reviews1 follower
August 13, 2020
Ok tbh I skipped a few stories to make my way through this bad girl.... I promise I'll go back and read them one day when I have a copy of my own and I'm not holding one hostage from a friend. I will! I mean probably.

Some thoughts: I love that this exists big time! The afterword made me FEEL. There are some stories in here that I've been thinking about since reading them at some point over the last year. But, there are some stories that I flat out forget.

I found it quite challenging to slug through all of these stories, especially so when each story contains it's own world with it's own rules and lore and sometimes syntax (Looking at you Sybil Lamb, you maniac 💜).

But the good outways the bad! Flipping through the pages reminded me of the short story collections we would read in high school english (usually titled like MOMENTS or something), but like way cooler 😎.

Long live trans propaganda!
Author 2 books1 follower
April 26, 2020
I absolutely loved this collection of science fiction short stories centering trans experiences--which is not to say I loved every individual story (failed out of a few pretty quick), but I loved that there were so many different perspectives and styles included that no one person could possibly approve of them all.

Some thoughts on my favorites:

"Angels Are Here To Help You" by Jeanne Thornton, about a mediocre programmer in a technocapitalist dystopia who embezzles from her celebrity cat to fund a money-making scheme involving a recently-discovered alien empathy drug--genuinely one of the best short stories I've ever read, with some strikingly resonant predictions about the future of everyday tech and feelings of tech inadequacy.

"Gamers" by Imogen Binnie, about a trans woman gamer, touching on male-coded gamer identity and a trans reading of the Ocarina of Time--really excellent tight POV and pacing, the ending kind of startled me by how perfect it was (warning for gore).

"Imago" by Tristan Alice Nieto, a deeply unsettling zombie-POV revenge story featuring super cool robot butterfly vision--I don't read much horror but I think the stomach-turning-but-don't-stop vibe I got from this is probably why people are into that genre.

"What Cheer" by RJ Edwards, about an alien anthropologist who learns about humanity by following one human around--a sweet and lightly brain-jiggling peek into the idea of a trans perspective as default, of trans bodies not defined by how they differ from cis bodies.

"Rent, Don’t Sell" by Calvin Gimpelevich, about bodyswap technology and its applicability to gender identity, disability, how bodies retain trauma--the ending didn't blow me away but the premise and a lot of the worldbuilding were fascinating.

"After the Big One" by Cooper Lee Bombardier, about a post-apocalypse survival crew comprising an older binary trans man who can pass, an older binary trans woman who can’t pass, two nonbinary youths, and a TERF--again, I didn't like the ending and I'm not sure what overarching point the author was trying to make (the sexual assault in particular felt pointless to me) but I loved the premise and a lot of the character interactions.

"Using A Treadmill, You Can Run Until Exhaustion Without Moving" by Sadie Avery, an extended single scene of intense self-reflection by a closeted trans woman drunk in a motel room on Mars--a strong character voice and some powerful moments.
Profile Image for Rachel.
1,367 reviews26 followers
January 11, 2023
I hate to give such a low rating. The premise of the collection is great: all trans writers, and all the stories have trans characters/content. I did like some of the stories; I think mostly ones by the more established writers. I liked "Satan, Are You There? It's Me, Laura" by Ember and Aisling Fae enough that I checked out their website and will read some of what's there. I liked the stories by Ryka Aoki and Imogen Binnie, the only two whose work I've previously read, and also Cooper Lee Bombardier, RJ Edwards, Calvin Gimpelvitch, and others.

But, as usual with collections, the quality of the stories is uneven. Many of the stories are highly stylized, with attempts at literary (the book is full of purple prose) to super-punk (not effective) to something like William Burroughs style (but just incoherent, and I liked Burroughs). Also lots of sex, and while I'm fine with erotica, much of the sex was...just not good. Though I did enjoy the trans elements of all the above. Also, I don't mind stories that involve video games that have been obsolete for decades, but it's odd that there are so many of them here.

I also liked that most of the stories also have political consciousness, not only of trans issues but of basic inequality and the wrongness and corruption of our culture.
Profile Image for Kat Rogue.
55 reviews1 follower
June 17, 2018
This collection is phenomenal. Most of the stories hit the perfect tone right off the bat, and some have snuck back into my psyche months after I dismissed them too quickly. Quite a few have completely redesigned the way I read science fiction as a whole. It's that good. It's SO haunting. The authors bring varied scifi takes through common trans tropes, so it's familiar for trans readers, yet elevated in unexpected ways. This is the first time these takes have been compiled together, and I hope it's the first volume of many to come.

There were a few stories that I didn't finish reading, and the work as a whole didn't quite meet the promises made on the back pages. The concepts of futuristic relationship styles or ways of being trans outside of capitalism weren't quite explored. A couple stories even felt like abridged versions of full novels that needed more time and space to explore.

That's a good thing! It means I want MORE TRANS SCI FI AUTHORS. It's so thrilling to see so many trans authors of varying fame and skill share these pages!

This is mandatory reading.
Profile Image for Brook.
Author 1 book30 followers
May 28, 2018
There’s no trans monolith in these pages, or anywhere on this planet. Not all of the characters in this book are heroes, and not all of them are feel good stories, which makes this collection the most human trans book I’ve read in some time. Ultimately, this collection of 25 stories leaves me hungry for more from each of these authors. There’s a whole universe of genre fiction to populate, so they’d better get on it. If you need a book to get you through a fall and winter of dreams, fireplaces, and early sunset, this is it. And, if you want a book of possibilities, one where we as trans folks can be anything, monster or hero, this is it.

(more at https://medium.com/@brookshelley/a-re...)
Profile Image for Hal Schrieve.
Author 8 books111 followers
January 8, 2019
Evocative, prescient, snarky, moving. The authors in this book range in focus and also in genre--from the dreamlike speculative to hard sci-fi to satirical projections of current trends--but are united in providing interesting and fresh stories about gender and life under capitalism. My favorite stories are:

-Trish Salah's story "It Can Grow" about a brain-eating amoeba that can only take over the world if she finds a way to have an orgasm, and the trans man who believes it is his mission to release said amoeba. Messianic--it's about the potential for revolution and change, or the potential for devastating destruction, and the way our desire for survival brushes against desire to be consumed because of the world we live in.

-Calvin Gimpelevich's story "Rent, Don't Sell"--about body autonomy, bodily ownership, and body fascism, which centers an amputee veteran who inhabits other people's bodies at the gym for a living so that they can become fit without experiencing the pain of exercise; she meets a trans lesbian who is living in a body she traded for with a trans man--but the trans girl wants her old body back, and might not be able to win it legally. Discussions of surrogacy/biological labor which touch on the way we see our bodies under capitalism as machines or accessories and divorce our psychological selves from our physical selves.

-Ayse Devrim's story "No Comment" about a Muslim trans neo-vaginal-virgin named Maryam whose new womb, transferred from a corpse, is already pregnant with the living and immaculately conceived child which had previously been in the body of a white midwestern bride. Coerced into keeping the baby which isn't hers and which she has no agency over, Mary is kept prisoner by teams of doctors and pharma companies and kidnapped by radical Islamophobes. Again, questions of Messiah, revolution, and bodily autonomy--the irresistable transforming change that the future brings and the question of whether women (and trans women specifically) have the power to change the world by asserting agency over their bodies/the way that state structures oppress and control marginalized populations.

-Jeanne Thornton's story about a trans lesbian whose viral-video-famous cat has been repossessed by a media company and who takes a homemade rocketship to space in order to steal the empathy-inducing offal of a peaceful alien race and sell it on the black market as a drug --but who discovers that someone has beat her to it.

Other highlights include an interrogation of power in intra-community trans discourse in the form of a tale about a survivalist str8ish trans man, a brief but moving tale about Ocarina of Time from seminal author Imogen Binnie, and a story of the zombie apocalypse and the neglect of suicidal and homeless trans women.

If you are looking for the future of spec fic, look no further than the genius trans authors in this anthology.
Profile Image for Katy.
608 reviews18 followers
January 5, 2019
MEANWHILE, ELSEWHERE is an utterly wonderful collection of fresh, vibrant, and wildly imaginative stories written by trans writers unapologetically focusing on trans characters. Usually I breeze through a book in a day or two, but I’ve been savoring this one so I can appreciate all of the very different stories. As always with anthologies, there were a few stories I didn’t love, but overall I was amazed by the depth and range of the collection and really pleased at the inclusion of so many trans POC.

These are some of my favorite stories in this anthology:

Satan, Are You There? It’s Me, Laura by Aisling Fae: This one is by far my favorite story in the collection; it is a sheer delight. This is a deliciously blasphemous spin on God and Satan as star-crossed lovers with Satan as a transgender woman who is pissed at God for not conveying her correct pronouns to mortals. So good.

The Gift by Ryka Aoki: This story imagines a progressive future where coming out is something to be widely celebrated, and Christian churches respond to them with great joy and applause. I loved Samantha’s pastor making sure that her parents weren’t trying to shove her into a gender binary and double-checking that they asked about pronouns.

Delicate Bodies by Bridget Liang: I’m a sucker for zombie stories, and this rollicking feminist apocalypse tale featuring a Chinese-Canadian trans protagonist is mesmerizing.

Imago by Tristan Alice Nieto: This is a heartbreaking story about losing the ones you love. In a future world, a miracle drug called “Revivranol” is used to revive murder victims for 3-4 days so they can tell the police who killed them. But these victims can rarely remember much about the person they used to be.

I’m happy this collection introduced me to so many incredible writers.
Profile Image for Howard.
254 reviews2 followers
December 9, 2022
Trust me friend, read this.

I love sci-fi!!!! I love trans writers!!!! So much incredible sex writing in here? I never want to read sex that isn't t4t ever again. Some of these stories didn't work for me but that's to be expected in a book this long.

Favorite stories and why (in order of appearance) - some of which I can’t stop thinking about:

Control by Rachel K Zall - incredibly sexy, incredibly trans, incredible way to open the collection. I knew EXACTLY what I was in for after this.

Delicate Bodies by Bridget Liang - zombie SRS, thats all I have to say. Possibly my favorite short story ever??? I was completely euphoric by the end.

Rent, Don't Sell by by Calvin Gimpelevich - world where people can trade bodies briefly or permanently. Trans girl fights to get her amab body back after trading it with a trans guy.

No Comment by Ayse Devrim - trans woman with a uterus implant fights for her right to get an abortion. Beyond incredible.

After the Big One by Cooper Lee Bombardier - queer strangers turned found family while facing natural disaster/apocalypse.

Notes From A Hunter Boy: As Filed by Gertrude the Librarian by Beckett K Bauer - made my academic heart so happy. Brilliant deconstruction of the social project of gender norms. Follows a society where "gender" is determined by nomadic or city dwelling lifestyle.

Thieves and Lovers by Emma Adams - extreme roleplaying fantasy

Imago by Tristain Alice Nieto - The MC dies and is brought back to help solve her own murder. Trying to put together the pieces of your life after trauma taken to the extreme. Reflecting on the value of all life and your own life. Incredible use of punctuation and form express different types of consciousness.
1 review
September 6, 2017
I lived with this book, carried it with me like a precious tome, whipping it out to evangelically read passages to various companions who shared my time while I dove in the worlds of these exciting new writers.

Not every story was a page-turner, but in every story, the words laid out beckoned to me in strange new ways.

Perhaps the most shocking chapter was science fiction only in its premise: one author has imagined a future where being trans is treated as routine by the surrounding characters in an anonymous North American high school. This trans girl living the first day of the rest of her life, was the character that stayed with me the longest. It was her story that has haunted me with its questions. She exists in a parallel reality even time-travel wouldn't deliver me to, if I were to be sent back to my teenage self and, instead of a forced puberty, given my choice of hormones.

Time itself, I am told, exists differently for trans people. It is fitting, then, to seek out speculative fiction written by these timeless beings. We think of the problems of human existence quite differently from someone who has never had to question the identity markers under their skin. I hope this collection of fresh trans science fiction and fantasy becomes a yearly edition, because this book needs to sit on a shelf with many more experiments in trans creative writing. The worlds trans people imagine are beautiful, like our bodies are beautiful, and I can't wait for there to be more.
Profile Image for ashes ➷.
835 reviews80 followers
Want to read
May 28, 2021
Just found out that this is available online.... Excited to give it a read, though hopefully physically :)
Profile Image for Oliver Compton.
12 reviews2 followers
January 5, 2022
Despite some stories in here that I really didn’t enjoy, some were pretty good and other were just fantastic. Favs include Imago, Rent, Don’t Sell, No Comment and Kid Ghost.
Profile Image for Soren .
45 reviews10 followers
July 15, 2020
It's a wonderful anthology. I love sci-fi, I love the work by trans authors. Sci-Fi is a special genre that tells myths at the same time of projecting futures.
Profile Image for Gracemary Allen.
129 reviews2 followers
November 9, 2021
2.5 stars. Rounded down for “Delicate Bodies”

Like many other reviews have mentioned, short story collections are almost always mixed bags. They’re especially hard to master when they cover such a range of topics and authors. That said. This was my least favorite short story collection of the year. The premise of an anthology authored entirely by trans people is a worthy one- but the quality of some of these were flat out poor. It hurts me to parrot right wing commentators but a marginalized author does not a good short story make.

Favorite stories:
“What Cheer”
“Rent, Don’t Sell”
“After The Big One”
“Thieves and Lovers”
“Schwaberow, Ohio”
“Kid Ghost”
“The Gift” (Corny. But made me smile.)

Least Favorite stories:

“Delicate Bodies”
“It can Grow”
“Cybervania” (“Queeferalla Beef Bitcoin$” Seriously??!)
“It’s called Fashion” (Personally this was indecipherable)
“No Comment”

Rant on “Delicate Bodies”

I don’t think the author knew whether to place this in the realm of satire or serious social commentary. They went with a blend of both which I think was to their disservice. Every character apart from the protagonist is a caricature, and there’s multiple references to children’s media (Ex: Sailor Moon and Steven Universe) which clash garishly with the explicit violence and off-putting sexual horror of the story.

Running a search on this story on google felt like I was living in a Star Trek mirror universe. I could find nothing but praise, which is legitimately insane considering it features:

(TW: Mild Spoilers, Gore, Sexual Assault)

a trans zombie woman ripping her penis off and then having intercourse through what she describes as a ROTTING hole, the protagonist sexually assaulting and then murdering former lovers, and the weirdest tone hopping I’ve ever had the displeasure of reading.

Truly awful. And as it was the second story in: almost earned this anthology a DNF.
Profile Image for Megan.
Author 16 books434 followers
October 18, 2017
I reviewed this anthology of SFF by trans writers for Strange Horizons:

Excerpt: "If its heft at nearly 450 pages is any indication, it’s not the first trans SF/F anthology due to any dearth of writing. A big book, it has the feel of arrival, this mysterious rectangular object finally crashing down from the future, or many futures. Addressing issues as various as reproductive technology, haunted adolescence, trans monstrosity, trans-trans love (and sex), and good old-fashioned coming out woes, these stories represent a spectrum of trans experience and a range of speculative genres. All are explicitly trans-centered, and all speak to a trans—or trans-literate—readership. There’s very little explaining, in other words, which leaves more room for the alien spore that’s just landed, and the hologram café. "

More here: http://strangehorizons.com/non-fictio...
Profile Image for Artur Nowrot.
Author 8 books40 followers
May 5, 2022
A fresh, wild anthology, full of great premises and interesting language. It's full of personality and speaks about trans experiences openly and unashamedly.

Personal highlights include:
Rent, Don't Sell by Calvin Gimpelevich
Notes from a Hunter Boy by Beckett K. Bauer
Under the Rainbow by Janey Lovebomb
Thieves and Lovers by Emma Adams
Schwaberow, Ohio by Brendan Williams-Childs
Gamers by Imogen Binnie
Imago by Tristan Alice Nieto
Angels Are Here to Help You by Jeanne Thornton
Profile Image for David Rodolfo.
Author 5 books12 followers
January 1, 2019
LOL, reading this book took me an entire year. Sci-fi and fantasy are really tough genres in any medium. You can’t pull off a story easily, and being transgender doesn’t guarantee a great story. I’ll give this book a pass because it exists and because it offers an important perspective, a fresh set of voices that both genres need. However, telling a good story should be the main goal here.

I liked 6 out of 25 stories here. I truly loved them. So either this book wasn’t for me, regardless of how excited I was to read it, or the selection of stories is pretty bad. It’s not that the stories didn’t speak to me because I’m not transgender. The stories that didn’t speak to me weren’t actually telling a story with any sense of plot structure or character development. It just a lot of exposition because they are trying to build a new world without enough time to actually do it properly.

However, I can’t give this anthology less than three stars, because my tastes are also to blame. I’m not big on either genre unless storytelling is prioritized, and I still believe that comics and film are better media for those genres since world-building can be done visually without sacrificing the advancement of the story (and even that’s a hard trick to pull off). Other readers may be more patient and, therefore, better suited for this book, regardless of their gender. The good stories here do speak to everyone, and they are a good path towards the verbalization of the transgender experience in order to foster inclusion and empathy.
Profile Image for Laura.
48 reviews
March 19, 2020
Just like The Collection, Meanwhile, Elsewhere is very hit or miss. Some of the stories are fantastic, some are underwhelming, some are just weird. I still really enjoyed so many of the stories, and I think fans of short stories, sci fi/fantasy, or trans lit will find lots for them.

Some of my favourites:

Bridget Liang - Delicate Bodies: not for the squeamish, but worth it for the zombified diy bottom surgery scene alone
Calvin Gimpelevich - Rent, Don't Sell: his story in The Collection was one of my favourites, and his story here was very captivating. why haven't I read more of him? note to self
Cooper Lee Bombardier - After the Big One: The characters here are so well-written, and I love (and uncomfortably relate to) the main character's feelings. I think anyone who's spent some time in trans groups will recognize a lot about the group
Janey Lovebomb - Under the Rainbow: yknow how horror movies can sometimes leverage these little anxieties you have and build them into some kind of terrifying real threat? this is kinda that, but with anxiety from repression. 25 year old me would've hated this story. sometimes it just takes time
Imogen Binnie - Gamers: I didn't care for the plot of this one so much, but Imogen Binnie has this way of saying things that cut right through me. She'll just casually drop a line about being trans or past relationships or trauma or unhealthy coping mechanisms that'll make me feel exposed and seen in a way that's good but still uncomfortable
Profile Image for Gally.
93 reviews1 follower
November 19, 2022
An anthology of SF and fantasy by transgender authors. Trans experience underline all of these, with individual pieces placing emphasis on sex, fantasy adventures, or hard SF.
I read fifteeen of the twenty-five pieces. I was not keen on some of these, often because they were too erotic, too grusome, too Ready Player One level nerdy, or most often the prose was simply disinteresting.
Several pieces are wonderful, which I will highlight here:

Themyscira by Colette Arrand
A shorter piece. The loneliness and tragedy here are written in such beautiful prose.

Thieves and Lovers by Emma Addams
A 1930s themed bar, where everyone presents themselves as black-and-white holograms of famous actors and actresses, in character of course. So much fun, though the relationship is toxic.

Schwaberow, Ohio by Brendan Williams-Childs.
A narrative on acceptance, belonging, and erasure. The prose is beautiful, in its own way, and the reflections land well.

Imago by Tristan Alice Nieto
Probably the most beautifully written piece I read here. Excellently executed bodyhorror.

The Gift by Ryka Aoki.
A comingout fairytale. No fantastical elements here, only the story itself is a fantasy I believe all trans people wish for. A much needed pick-me-up in a rather grim collection.

A few of my other favorites are Satan, Are You There? It's Me, Laura by Aisling & Ember Fae; Notes from a Hunter Boy by Beckett K. Bauer; and Kid Ghost by Nat Buchbinder.
Profile Image for Jill.
880 reviews14 followers
March 28, 2023
In the Afterword, the editors point out they wanted a compilation of stories that center a trans reader, so no cis-splaining need happen. I think they achieved this, and it is what made reading through these most enjoyable. Not that all of the stories were enjoyable - I'm not really into zombie porn, punk squatters, or video gaming. But there is no universal trans experience or reader, so I appreciated what a huge variety there was.

Some favorite stories included: "No Comment", "Notes from a Hunter Boy" (echoes of Ursula K. Le Guin), "After the Big One" because I'm a sucker for aocalypse survival, "Heat Death of Western Human Arrogance", and "Schwaberow, Ohio" - call out for neurodivergence. Others that didn't rate as high, but I enjoyed were: "Satan Are You There" - was silly good fun, made me laugh. "Rent, Don't Sell" had an interesting concept - reminded me of The Many Selves of Katherine North. "Imago" was fascinating conceptually, but hard to like.

Hope there's something in there for you, too!
Profile Image for Alanna Why.
Author 1 book113 followers
April 16, 2018
Meanwhile, Elsewhere is a fresh collection of sci-fi, fantasy and horror short stories from contemporary trans writers. Even though I am not a huge fan of these genres, I loved how the writers in this collection played with and subverted conventions of the genre's stereotypical plots, characters and themes. Like any anthology, it is a mixed bag, but the overall quality of this collection is very high. There were only a handful of stories that I couldn't get into and even the stories I didn't enjoy as much still took exciting literary risks. My favourite stories were "Delicate Bodies" by Bridget Liang, "What Cheer" by RJ Edwards, "After The Big One" by Cooper Lee Bombardier, "Cybervania" by Sybil Lamb and "Thieves and Lovers" by Emma Addams. Still, my #1 story from the collection was "Imago" by Tristan Alice Nieto (who knew that a story told from the perspective of a resuscitated corpse could be so beautiful and moving and human that it would make me cry?) Great collection overall, for both fans of the genre and not!
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