Beyond Laser Guns, Blasters, and Time-travel: Essential LGBT Science Fiction
At its best, great science fiction is never really about the future. Obviously, the overwhelming majority of science fiction is about ideas of the future or of potential scientific advancements, but really great science fiction tends to be far more concerned with the time it was written than the time it’s set. As a result, science fiction has long been a venue for discussing aspects of the human experience that can otherwise be marginalising.
When it comes to LGBT themes, authors can use science fiction to upset their readers’ expectations and preconceptions. In some cases, that’s as simple as having a character act as a lens into a world in which everyday realities are fundamentally different from our own. This may happen by eliding certain details we take for granted, as in Ursula LeGuin's The Left Hand of Darkness, in which the overwhelming majority of characters are aliens with no defined sex or gender at all.
Other great works of science fiction may take a contrary approach, introducing new and more complex intricacies to gender relations, as in Iain M. Banks’ The Player of Games, the majority of which is set on a world with three genders, whose interrelationships have shaped the planet’s politics and social structure.
Below you’ll find a list of excellent science fiction novels that deal with LGBT themes. In some, those themes are central to the plot, while in others we're treated to a science fiction adventure in which some of the characters happen to be gay. There's room for everyone on this shelf.