There are plenty of folks who don’t fall into clear categories of “male” and “female,” but the protagonist of Chloë Dalquist’s Jamie the Trickster falls on both ends of the spectrum. Able to shift from apparently male to apparently female at will, Jamie is on a mission to change the world, but needs to find the man and woman destined to help that change along. Jamie the Trickster doesn’t actually start with Jamie, but with Todd, a young man whose world is turned upside down at the sudden appearance of the shapeshifting Jamie. Intrigued for reasons he doesn’t fully understand, Todd follows Jaime and gets caught up in Jamie’s hijinks that involve kidnapping — and later couchsurfing with — a stranger linked to a man Jamie has been searching for. In addition to being a genetics-defying shapeshifter, Jamie has prophetic dreams — dreams that indicate a specific man and woman will help Jamie change the world.
Back in the 1990s, there were a few queer science fiction anthologies that made waves, notably the Bending The Landscape books from Meisha Merlin. And since then, there’s been a bit of a void in terms of print anthologies that really succeed in combining cutting-edge science fiction and fantasy with queer themes — at least, outside of erotica anthologies like the ones Cecilia Tan puts out.
The good news is, a new anthology coming in May, Beyond Binary, feels like a worthy successor to the Bending the Landscape books. It’s chock full of strong stories that challenge your perceptions of gender identity and sexuality, but also turn your notions of reality itself upside down. Editor Brit Mandelo has done a great job of assembling some of the most provocative writers working in SF today.
There is most certainly a privilege to having a gender. Just ask someone who doesn’t have a gender, or who can’t pass, or who doesn’t pass. When you have a gender, or when you are perceived as having a gender, you don’t get laughed at in the street. You don’t get beat up. You know which public bathroom to use, and when you use it, people don’t stare at you or worse. You know which form to fill out. You know what clothes to wear. You have heroes and role models. You have a past.
— Kate Bornstein, Gender Outlaw (via foldedpaperstories)