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Queers Destroy Science Fiction! is a special issue of the Hugo-winning magazine LIGHTSPEED 100% written—and edited—by queer creators.
Queers Destroy Science Fiction! is a special issue of the Hugo-winning magazine LIGHTSPEED 100% written—and edited—by queer creators.
Queers Destroy Science Fiction! is a special issue of the Hugo-winning magazine LIGHTSPEED 100% written—and edited—by queer creators.
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Personal Essay: "A Gay Boy Gets His Genre On" by Anthony Cardno

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When we set out to destroy science fiction with this Kickstarter, we didn't want it to be your ordinary, run-of-the-mill campaign. We wanted it to be full of smashing, crashing queer voices, telling what it really means to be queer reading and writing science fiction. One of the ways we hope to do that is by sharing a series of personal essays about the experience of being queer in science fiction.  

Personal Essay: "A Gay Boy Gets His Genre On" by Anthony Cardno

The answer: The Fall of the Kings by Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman.

The question: “When did you first recognize yourself in a science fiction or fantasy novel?”

The first genre books I remember reading: Silverberg’s long out-of-print To Open The Sky, Tolkein’s The Hobbit, Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes, and an Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators mystery. They all captured my imagination far more than anything assigned in those 5th and 6th grade years and set my love for genre fiction firmly in place. I recognized my shy, keep-your-head-down personality in aspects of Bilbo Baggins and William Halloway; my curiosity in Jupiter Jones and his pals; and even though I couldn’t put a name to it, my search for a life true to myself in Noel Vorst and Christopher Mondschein. But even after I’d come to terms with my own sexuality, I wasn’t looking in the right places to find well-written gay protagonists in my genre fiction or comic books, and my own writing of the time reflected the fact that I wasn’t seeing myself in what I was reading.

Until one of the Book-of-the-Month Club offshoots offered The Fall of the Kings as a selection. High fantasy, with gay protagonists at the core? I ordered it, devoured it, and only after reading it discovered it was a sequel. But that didn’t matter—what mattered was I now realized I could, in fact, write genre stories featuring characters like me not just in temperament (many of my characters are shy, or self-effacing, or searching for who they are) but also in sexuality. Yes, it’s only one part of who I am—but it’s the part that was missing from my own fiction for so long.

Now, of course, I find genre fiction with QUILTBAG characters all over the place: Lethe Press’s books, Crossed Genres, and most online specific magazines including of course our very own Lightspeed and Nightmare magazines. Each time I find a story or novel in one of these venues, my pulse races a little bit. I’m excited. I’m intrigued. I’m represented. And I’m inspired to keep writing.

So thank you to Delia and Ellen for showing me what I was missing; to Steve Berman, Ellen Datlow, Bryan Thomas Schmidt, Bart Leib, Kay Holt, John Joseph Adams and all of the other editors who allow us queer writers to destroy SF, fantasy and horror with such alacrity; and to all my fellow QUILTBAG authors for challenging me to keep up.

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Anthony R. Cardno's first published work was a "hero history" of Marvel Comics' The Invaders for the late, lamented Amazing Heroes magazine back in 1986. His short stories have appeared in Willard & Maple,SybilSpace Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales Volume 6,  Beyond The Sun, OOMPH: A Little Super Goes A Long Way, and Tales of the Shadowmen Volume 10. In 2014 he edited The Many Tortures of Anthony Cardno, in which 22 authors Tuckerized him to raise money for the American Cancer Society. In addition to a full time job as a corporate trainer, Anthony is a proofreader for Lightspeed magazine, writes book reviews, and interviews authors, singers, and other creative types on www.anthonycardno.com, where you can also find some of his other short stories. In his spare time, Anthony enjoys making silly cover song videos on Youtube. You can find him on Twitter @talekyn.

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