Finncon 2014 LGBT Reading Lists

This page contains the reading lists produced by myself and Suzanne Van Rooyen for the LGBT panel at Finncon 2014. I note that we have both added to the lists since the hand-outs we had at the convention were printed.

Cheryl’s Lists

Single books

This list is by no means exhaustive. It simply includes books I have read and liked (in no particular order, and limited to one per writer). I have linked to my reviews where they are available.

* For the benefit of those of you whose eyebrows have shot up, The Forever War contains one section in which the troops return home to discover that same-sex relationships have become the norm on Earth and heterosexuality is frowned upon. Joe is, of course, simply reflecting the unease felt by Vietnam veterans returning home to find the USA full of Hippies, but I include the book here to make the point that things like this could happen in a book in 1976, and the book could still win a Hugo.


Again these are all books I have read, though in the case of series possibly not all of them.

  • The Outremer series – Chaz Brenchley
  • The Orokon Saga – Tom Arden
  • The AngeLINK series – Lyda Morehouse
  • The Wraethtru books – Storm Constantine
  • The Element Logic series – Laurie J Marks
  • The Jacob’s Ladder Trilogy – Elizabeth Bear
  • Rhapsody of Blood – Roz Kaveney
  • Chaos Walking – Patrick Ness
  • The Siobhan Quinn books – Caitlín R. Kiernan
  • The Engelsfors Trilogy – Sara B Elfgren & Mats Strandberg

Dodgy Trans Books

These are all books that you will see held up by cis people are great books about trans characters, but which have some highly problematic elements. Again I have linked to my reviews.

  • The Female Man, Joanna Russ – basically TERF** propaganda, for which Russ has since apologized.
  • Ilario, Mary Gentle – great on intersex, but essentially contrasts “valid” intersex identities with “invalid” trans identities.
  • Pantomime, Laura Lam – shock reveal and use of circus freak symbolism.
  • Steel Beach, John Varley – bizarre and hilarious, nothing like actual trans people.
  • The Bone Palace, Amanda Downing – shock reveal and mired in trans community politics it doesn’t seem to understand.
  • I Will Fear No Evil, Robert A Heinlein – basically transvestite porn.
  • Friday, Robert A Heinlein – OK on trans, but awful in just about every other way.
  • A Civil Campaign, Lois McMaster Bujold – transition for political gain with no understanding of personal issues.

I got asked during the panel what I thought authors should do to treat trans characters respectfully. What I said amounted to the following:

  1. Treat the character with the same respect you’d give any other character;
  2. Don’t use any shock revelations in the narrative, as this plays into the narrative that trans people are somehow deceitful;
  3. Try not to use transition narratives — there is so much more to trans people’s lives than their transition;
  4. Try to get an understanding of the breadth of different identities encompassed by the term trans, and do not confuse different identities in one character; and
  5. Don’t use the story to privilege one type of trans people over other types.

** Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists. The Female Man uses the TERF idea that trans women are a creation of the patriarchy intended to replace “real” women once those “real” women have become emancipated and no longer wish to associate with men. This includes the idea that “real” women are not naturally feminine, but two out of every seven men are naturally feminine.


The following authors of speculative fiction all identify somewhere on the LGBT spectrum. Apologies to those whom I have omitted. There are of course many more, but all of these are people whose work I have read, and whom I know are openly out.

  • Geoff Ryman
  • Nicola Griffith
  • Samuel R Delany
  • Ellen Kushner
  • Kelley Eskridge
  • Delia Sherman
  • Chris Barzack
  • Caitlín R Kiernan
  • Roz Kaveney
  • Chaz Brenchley
  • Melissa Scott
  • Tom Arden
  • Lyda Morehouse
  • Laurie J Marks
  • Ellen Klages
  • Patrick Ness
  • Rick Bowes
  • Malinda Lo
  • Severna Park
  • Catherynne M. Valente
  • Hal Duncan
  • Charlie Jane Anders
  • Nalo Hopkinson
  • Joanna Russ
  • James Tiptree Jr.
  • Elizabeth Bear
  • Steve Berman
  • Catherine Lundoff
  • Candas Jane Dorsey
  • Elizabeth A Lynn
  • Tanya Huff
  • Jessica Amanda Salmonson
  • Billy Martin (formerly Poppy Z. Brite)
  • David Gerrold
  • Thomas M. Disch
  • Lawrence Schimel
  • Kij Johnson
  • Sophia MacDougall
  • Maria Davana Headley
  • Tove Jansson
  • Oscar Wilde
  • Frank M. Robinson
  • Octavia Butler
  • Katherine V. Forrest

Suzanne’s Lists

Books & Series

Books I’ve read featuring LGBT+ characters or themes:

  • Hobverse Series by Cat Hellisen (When the Sea is Rising Red, House of Sand and Secrets)
  • Coda by Emma Trevayne (I’ve only read book 1 in this series)
  • Proxy by Alex London (I’ve only read book 1 in this series)
  • The Sandman graphic novel series by Neil Gaiman
  • Skulk by Rosie Best (I’ve only read book 1 in this series)
  • The Adorned by John Tristan
  • The Cloud Roads by Martha Wells (I’ve only read book 1 in this series)
  • The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater (that one of the major characters is gay only becomes apparent in book 2, The Dream Thieves)
  • Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
  • Lost Souls and Drawing Blood by Poppy Z. Brite
  • Dust by Elizabeth Bear (I’ve only read book 1 in this series)
  • The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice

Books with questionable LGBT+ content

  • Embassytown by China Miéville
  • The Burning Sky (Elemental trilogy) by Sherry Thomas (cross-dressing character)

Books I haven’t read yet, but have heard good things about

  • Otherbound by Corinne Duyvis
  • Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore (book 3 of the Graceling series)
  • Huntress and the Adaptation series by Malinda Lo
  • Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith
  • Witch Eyes by Scott Tracey
  • Love in the Time of Global Warming by Francesca Lia Block
  • Every Day by David Levithan
  • Archangel Academy series by Michael Griffo
  • The Engelsfors Trilogy by Sara B. Elfgren and Mats Strandberg

4 thoughts on “Finncon 2014 LGBT Reading Lists

  1. I have just been reading The Female Man as part of research for an essay, and I would be very grateful if you could point me to a source where Joanna Russ apologized for the TERF elements of that story.

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