Like everything else, Pride Month looks a little different this year. As parades are canceled and celebrations move online, you may be understandably blue. And you may be itching to get out and go…literally anywhere.
The safest way to do that? Through an escapist read that can transport you to new and exciting worlds—or at least better versions of our own. On that note, here are ten fantasy and sci-fi adventures that revel in their many shades of queerness.
The Extraordinaries by TJ Klune (July 14)
When was the last time we had a summer without a line-up of superhero blockbusters? Klune’s upcoming novel aims to fill that gap. Nick Bell has a motormouth, ADHD, and one of the most-read fanfics about the real-life heroes of Nova City, the Extraordinaries. What else does he have? Possibly more intimate feelings about his best friend Seth than he realizes. Bonus: If you want a sweet, queer fantasy to read right now, you can get your grabby hands on Klune’s other new book, The House in the Cerulean Sea.
Crier’s War by Nina Varela
I can’t say the kingdom of Rabu is a better place (what with the robot overlords and all), but Crier’s War will transport you there, totally and completely. Before the war, the Automae were artificial helpers and playmates for humans. Then they rose up, turning humans into their servants. Against this backdrop we meet two girls on opposite sides of the conflict: Lady Crier, a beautifully Made heir to the throne, and Ayla, a human girl hellbent on killing Crier—until she very much isn’t.
Spell Hacker by M.K. England
Magic heist! Found family! Sci-fi mixed with fantasy! Spell Hacker is everything you could wish for. Known as “maz,” magic has been commodified and is now highly controlled in Kyrkarta. Diz and her friends traffic in a black market maz supply. But when the lucrative job that was supposed to be their last goes awry, they’re pulled into a much bigger conspiracy. Queerness flows more freely than maz here, including with a nonbinary member of the core squad.
Shatter the Sky by Rebecca Kim Wells
Can I interest you in some dragons right about now? All Maren wants is what so many others do: a quiet life with her girlfriend. But those dreams are shattered when Kaia is taken by forces of the tyrannical emperor who conquered their homeland. Maren’s rescue plan begins with stealing one of the emperor’s dragons and ends with breaking through the stronghold hiding Kaia. Naturally, things get more complicated.
The Lost Coast by Amy Rose Capetta
Couldn’t very well make it through this list without including a queer coven. Danny feels drawn to a Northern California town, but that attraction is more than just the towering Redwoods. She’s been summoned there by a group of teen witches who need her help to find a missing friend. The Grays make up a proudly diverse, offbeat group, and you’ll find lesbian, bi, ace, and nonbinary characters represented.
Witchmark by C.L. Polk
Polk’s debut is a magic combination of fantasy and romance. In an alternate world similar to Edwardian England, elite magical families drive politics and national agendas. Miles Singer comes from one such family, and he’s faked his own death in order to escape the life destined for him. But a mysterious death and the appearance of an intriguing stranger will change Miles’s plans yet again.
Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee
This complex hard sci-fi story kicks off one heck of a space opera series, one that delights in making the reader do some work. The star of this show is Captain Kel Cheris, whose unconventional tactics have left her in disgrace with the hexarchate regime. To redeem her reputation, she enlists an unusual ally: the brilliant and deeply problematic Shuos Jedao, who also happens to be dead.
Escaping Exodus by Nicky Drayden
Drayden’s novels are delights because you never know where they’re going to go. Here, she takes you inside the belly of a giant space beast, where humans have learned to carve a society out of living organs and tissue. Anchoring the story are Seske, heir to the matriarchy, and Adalla, her working-class friend. Along with queer romance, the book has trans representation and subverts gender roles.
City of Strife by Claudie Arseneault
High fantasy with aromantic asexual sensibilities. It’s been a minute since Arathiel has been back to his hometown. Over a hundred years, actually. His noble family is dead, the city has changed, and he’s changed too. Instead of trying to reclaim his position, he spends time on the fringes of society. But the fresh life he’s built for himself is turned upside down by accusations against one of his new friends.
The Seep by Chana Porter
It’s not quite a peppy escapist read, but Porter’s surreal sci-fi debut will pique your interest even if it doesn’t boost your endorphins. The Seep is the gentle, benevolent alien entity we always wanted to invade. The Seep’s control creates a veritable utopia, though perhaps one with unintended consequences. We see those consequences through the eyes of Trina, a trans woman grieving the loss of her wife.
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