What all of these books and series have in common aside from wonderful storytelling is that gender and sexuality are no big deal. The authors don’t go our of their way to point out or draw extra attention to queer relationships. They simply are. Diversity is a natural part of these worlds in the way I hope our society is moving. In Ardulum and the Wayfarer series, sexual relationships with any combination of men, women, and aliens are normal.
How wonderful would that be?
Speculative fiction has always pushed out the boundaries of what society deems acceptable and normalized diversity. Some of the greatest names in science fiction like Isaac Asimov, Olivia Butler, and Ursula LeGuin have written queer characters. Even so, sightings were rare in traditionally published books up until the last few years. That I happened upon three in a matter of months without specifically seeking them out amazes me. It tells me that the push for diversity from within the writing and reading communities is working. As a writer of science fiction, it gives me hope that my novel in progress — the one I’ve waffled a half a dozen times on the sexual orientations and gender identities of my characters — might make it onto shelves alongside stories with strictly heterosexual characters.
Is there a lot of work to do? Yes. I would love to see more transgender and non-binary humans, for one. While many of the alien species are a-gender, have a third gender, or move back and forth between genders — a level of diversity we can see in life on Earth — none of the gender diverse characters are human. This is a problem even in science fiction that specifically labeled queer.
As an added bonus, both Ardulum and Wayfarer use alternative pronouns like xi/xir/xyrs as if they were a regular feature of speech.
I’d like to see more gay men, as well, since most of the characters I run into are lesbian or bi. It could be that my tendency to gravitate towards lady authors has created a selection bias and there are some wonderful stories with gay characters I’m missing.
As a whole, there are still far fewer inclusive novels than strictly cis-het, but things are changing and I look forward to reading both more of what’s out there and what’s to come.