An Imaginary Anthology of the Imagination – Boogieman In Lavender

Jeff Baker                                                                Just call this one an early/late Christmas idea for the LGBT writer/reader on your list. The only hitch to this is the anthology I’m talking about doesn’t exist. (At least, not yet!)

I’m a big fan of the “Mammoth Books Of…” series. 500 plus page collections of fiction on various themes: Egyptian Whodunits, Comic Fantasy, Extreme Science Fiction to name a few. Also, several volumes on non-fictional subjects as well; Crossword Puzzles, The Titanic, Eyewitness accounts of history.) And while there are mammoth books of Best Gay Fiction and Gay Erotica, there is no book titled “The Mammoth Book of LGBT Science Fiction Stories.”

But what if there was?

First off, the boundaries between sci-fi and fantasy are flimsy at best, but let’s try to keep the contents at least marginally to science fiction. Even where the actual science is lukewarm (like the stuff I write.) With LGBT sci-fi as a growing genre during the last decade or so we should be able to find a few short-stories to start the ball rolling, and tell where we can read them for real.

Let’s start with a genuine classic; “The Crooked Man,” by Charles Beaumont was first published in Playboy in 1955. It’s been reprinted in Beaumont’s “Selected Stories” (aka “The Howling Man,”) as well as recently in “The Hunger and Others.” The story was pretty controversial in its day, telling about a world where homosexuality was the norm and heterosexuality an aberration (except for procreation.)

“The Flying Triangle” by Allen Steele first appeared in the sci-fi volume of “Bending the Landscape” and is reprinted in Steele’s collection “Sex and Violence in Zero G: the Complete Near Space Stories.”

The internet has become a market for sci-fi stories, a lot of them self-published. One that grabbed me at first reading was Theo Fenraven’s “Voyage,’ a flash fiction which was first posted on his website May 23, 2016.

Steve Berman is one of the premiere editors and writers of LGBT science fiction and fantasy. His story “Caught By Skin” first appeared in the anthology “Sex In the System.” It can be found in his collection “Second Thoughts.” To me it’s reminiscent of some of Charles Beaumont’s disquieting stories about conformity and the future.

For a much more recent story, “The Patient Dragon,” by David Gerrold appeared in the July/August issue of Asimov’s Science Fiction. Despite its title it is definitely sci-fi, with a protagonist who switches between genders.

I’ve spoken before about how nuts I am about A. Merc Rustad’s work, so I have to include one of their stories. My pick would be “How To Become a Robot in 12 Easy Steps” which first appeared in “Scigentasy #4,” March 2014. It’s also available in “So You Want To Be a Robot,” the author’s recent collection.

The anthology would have to have a story by Samuel R. Delany. I’d pick “Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones.” It first appeared in “New Worlds #185,” December 1968. It’s been reprinted all over, recently in Delany’s collection: “Aye, And Gomorrah.”
An anthology such as I am speculating should include some brand-new stories. If somebody out there creates an anthology like this the good news is there are a wealth of authors working in the field today who would be more than able to fill the remaining pages. And it would all be a damn good read! And which LGBT science fiction short stories would the readers pick to include?

Whatever the readers and authors choose to read and write in the meantime, we wish you all the best the Christmas season has to offer and a wonderful new year!

Jeff Baker blogs about writing and reading sci-fi and horror and other sundry matters around the thirteenth of each month. He has a story in the new QSF anthology “Renewal,” and also appears on Facebook as “Jeff Baker, Author.” He also blogs and posts fiction at http://authorjeffbaker.com. He lives in Wichita, Kansas with his husband Darryl.

 

                                                

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