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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.
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Personal Essay: "Where Now Must I Go to Make a Home?" by Hal Duncan

Posted by Lightspeed Magazine (Creator)

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: "Where Now Must I Go to Make a Home?" by Hal Duncan

• 5

And came down in Kilwinning, Scotland, 1988, so they did, the spacers of Delany’s “Aye and Gomorrah,” discovered in his Driftglass collection, picked up in a ratty secondhand copy from fuck knows where or when. Came down in the head of a teenager primed with the trad kid’s fantasy fare of Narnia and Middle-Earth, a little snottery spit gobbed into the mix via Larrabeiti’s The Borribles, but no Sodom. Primed further by a copy of Asimov’s I, Robot foisted on me by a mate, a first sortie into the more cerebral fantastica of Science Fiction. Ready for ... something more.

• 4

There’d been Star Wars too, of course, back in the Odeon of 1970s Saltcoats, the Dolby Stereo thunder of that star destroyer overhead, imaginary lightsabers on the playground, a Millenium Falcon toy for Christmas; there were the old Flash Gordon serials also, on telly during the summer holidays; the old and new Buck Rogers; the original Battlestar Galactica. But those were a pop culture pervasion, soul fiction so ubiquitous it’s less an element of any personal relationship to SF, more the universal substrate shared by all 70s kidsters, a saturation of tropes still requiring some strange/queer catalyst to crystallise.

• 3

So, although/because in the utter Rationalism of prepubescence, I was an infant Spock, a bespectacled robot alien mostly oblivious to this thing the humans called desire, the Star Trek series itself spoke less to me than Asimov’s calculus of narratives, the way his stories worked the permutations of the Three Laws of Robotics. From Asimov, I turned to Clarke, Heinlein, the Gollancz Classics line of the era--old editions too, anything in the library with a yellow cover. Then as the adolescent urges kicked in, I found my way from Golden Age wonders to Delany. Never to look back.

• 2

In the decade that saw the “Gay Plague” hysteria of HIV’s emergence, and Section 28 introduced by Thatcher, the paedophile’s PM, to ban the “promotion of homosexuality” lest gay teachers “recruit” my ass, Heinlein’s increasingly self-indulgent grandstanding gave me an avenue of escape into futures of polyamorous tolerance, but it was Delany who really rescued me from the shit of small town queerdom that makes one do an It Gets Better video decades later.

It was Nova and Babel-17 and Dalghren.

It was Driftglass with its spacers and frelks, and its opening epigraph of lamentation for lost Sodom.

• 1

A little escapism’s no bad thing, but what I found in SF is something better dubbed rescuism, I think. Utopias, dystopias and heterotopias exploring the capacities of cultures for glorious deviance from the normative. The cynic’s idealism driving satiric autopsies of societal folly. The cryptofascist wank is not to be overlooked, of course, but the idiom is defined by its breaches of assumed reality, no? This fiction of the strange is by definition that of the queer.

So those spacers came down in my imagination, and I saw their future: a potential home for me: New Sodom.

And went up.


Hal Duncan’s debut Vellum was published in 2005, garnering nominations for the Crawford, Locus, BFS and World Fantasy Award, and winning the Spectrum, Kurd Lasswitz and Tähtivaeltaja. Along with the sequel, Ink, other publications include: the novella Escape from Hell!; chapbooks An A-Z of the Fantastic City and Errata; a poetry collection, Songs for the Devil and Death; and most recently, a short story collection, Scruffians, and Rhapsody, a book-length essay on strange fiction. An occasional collaborator with bands such as The Dead Man’s Waltz, he also wrote the lyrics for Aereogramme’s “If You Love Me, You’d Destroy Me,” and is responsible for one musical, Nowhere Town. Homophobic hatemail once dubbed him “THE.... Sodomite Hal Duncan!!” (sic.) You can find him online at, revelling in that role.

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