A Starter List of Lesbian Science Fiction Books
- Adaption by Malinda Lo (2012), 386p.
This contemporary lesbian science fiction book was written for Young Adults but is a fun read for adults. It deals with global government conspiracies and young love. The quick pace resembles a thriller. Emotional subplots (coming out, first love, etc) gives depth to the characters even as the story ventures in to X-Files territory. The cliffhanger ending sets up the sequel.
- The Tea Machine by Gill McKnight (2015), 342p.
A Victorian era lesbian is flung into an alternative future where the Roman Empire never fell and continued to conquer even the stars. A genre mashup with a fast genre pace with quirky humor. Recommend to readers looking for a lesbian main character in a novel in the style of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy or Pride Prejudice and Zombies.
- Ammonite by Nicola Griffith (1993), 360p.
Awarded by Lambda Literary Foundation in 1993, Ammonite explores an common lesbian science fiction book trope: a world without men. In the future, a virus wipes out all males on a colonized planet leading to a all-women society which creates a unique frame. The pace can be ponderous as the characters develop. The surface story is about the question of what life would be like without men but the narrative soon becomes concerned with the main character’s journey of self-discovery.
- Captive Girl by Jennifer Pelland (2012), 29p.
This short story by Nebula-nominated author, Jennifer Pelland, was published in the 2008 Nebula Awards showcase anthology. A dark science fiction story that concerns itself with the question of normalcy. Its main character, Alice, was genetically modified to be a monster capable of defending a space colony until the government program that created her is shut down. Character development is key as Alice struggles to understand her purpose.
- The Female Man by Joanna Russ (1975), 224p.
This book deals with three characters, who are incarnations of one another called the Js (Janet, Joanna, and Jeannine), interacting after a ‘female man’ from the future appears in New York city. Time periods from 1970s to the Great Depression to the future clash as the Js compare their lives to question and answer issues with feminists, sexuality, and gender. A slow paced book, with threads of humor among the heavier questions, that deals with emotion, characterization, and controversy, The Female Man is written in a style that is more James Joyce than Orson Scott Card.
- The Gunfighter and the Gearhead by Cassandra Duffy (2013), 267p.
Fast paced, occasionally erotic, and mixing genres, The Gunfighter and the Gearhead is a rollicking thrill ride that takes a mad scientist and a Victorian Secret’s-model-turned-gunfighter through a mad dash through the Southwest. A variety of characters and subplots belie the simple yet effective prose. Romance, science fiction, aliens, steampunk, and erotica come together in a novel that reads like a hipster’s interpretation of a 1970s sexploitation movie.
- Heiresses of Russ 2013: The Year’s Best Lesbian Speculative Fiction edited by Megan Arkenberg (2013), 322p.
Short stories are a classic science fiction form and a significant portion of lesbian science fiction is in this medium. Arkenberg brings together the best from best sellers like Malina Lo and newcomers like Sarah Diemer to showcase the diversity in the genre. These stories go beyond Earth and into space. “Chang’e Dashes from the Moon” by Benjanun Sriduangkaew is a more lyrical science fiction story that feels like a fairytale while “Beneath Impossible Circumstances” by Andrea Kneeland is darker and more gritty as science meets horror.
- In The Now by Kelly Sinclair (2012), 168p.
A psychiatric drug trial gets weird as a psychiatrist finds that her mission to disprove reincarnation brings shocking consequences for her test subjects including Amy. Amy is a normal college student who becomes merged with her past life as a man which creates complications with her girlfriend. Characterization highly developed in this quickly paced book. In The Now asks heavy questions about gender, identity, and love as well as the moral implications of past lives in this lesbian science fiction book.
- The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Le Guin (1969), 324p.
This groundbreaking classic of science fiction by one of the genre’s grand dames asks the hard questions about society, sexuality, gender, and identity. A visitor to a planet without gender must overcome his cultural viewpoint to interact with these aliens. Written for the thinking reader, the Left Hand of Darkness can be dense and slow moving with deep characterizations and themes. This classic still retains its readability.
- Supreme Constellations: Book One – Protector of the Realm by Gun Brooke (2005), 256p.
An entertaining space opera that blends lesbian romance together with galactic adventure in the style of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Protector of the Realm is a worthy start to the Supreme Constellations series. Brooke creates a light, fast paced read with suspenseful subplots and space station intrigues. The romantic protagonists get the most characterization depth and the focus is on the action. When a space renegade and a space station commander come together, sparks fly and the danger mounts as the two fall in love and learn to work together.
- Project Unicorn, Volume 1: 30 Young Adult Short Stories Featuring Lesbian Heroines by Sarah and Jennifer Diemer (2012), 81p.
The married writing team, Sarah and Jennifer Diemer, are two of the most promising young authors in lesbian fiction today. This short story collection is apart of their Project Unicorn which was created to increase the amount of YA lesbian lit. The Project spans all genres from westerns to mysteries but skews towards the speculative. The Diemers have a lyrical style that resembles Francesca Lia Block and their stories feel like fairytales. Engaging plots, emotional prose, and budding lesbian romances are signature traits in their writing. Sarah Diemer is the author of the award winning YA novel, The Dark Wife.