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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.
2,250 backers pledged $54,523 to help bring this project to life.

Personal Essay: "Creative Destruction" by Lisa Nohealani Morton

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: "Creative Destruction" by Lisa Nohealani Morton

I spent a long time dancing around the blank page that was destined to become this essay, doing literally anything at all other than committing words to paper.

The upside of that is that now my bathroom is sparkling clean! The downside is that eventually I ran out of Things I Desperately Need To Do Right Away and was forced to confront myself about why I was having so much trouble laying down some words on the topics of Queers, Science Fiction, and Destruction. So I decided to break it down.

Part I: Queers

I’m trying to avoid the inevitable throat-clearing that comes at this point in the essay, where I acknowledge that as a woman currently in a (nominally) straight relationship I am maybe not Queer Enough to write it.

But you know what? Screw that. That line of thinking is why bisexuality is invisible, and it leads to too many of us with both a stake and a lived experience keeping our mouths shut. I am (currently, primarily) with a man, but I have and do also date women. I’m here, I’m bi, and I’m going to keep on talking.

Part II: Science Fiction

I think it was Vonda McIntyre who first clued me in, as a young SF-reading person, to the idea that sexuality covered more than just women marrying dudes and having babies. Starfarers is a touchstone for me in many ways, but especially in the way it treated queer relationships and alternative relationship structures as just a fact of life, rather than something to be sneered at or exoticised.

And then there was Heinlein. Oh, Heinlein. I clung to the plural, group, and line marriage stuff; I read and reread that one bit about cuddly spouses in To Sail Beyond the Sunset; I considered in great detail the gender and queer implications of I Will Fear No Evil, and I assiduously ignored the bits that weren’t so friendly. Heinlein told me that life could be lived under different rules than the ones my parents taught me. He told me to question everything. I listened (and applied it to him as well).

Part III: Destruction

By now I should have some rousing call to action. Let’s destroy science fiction! But I like science fiction, I hear you protest, and that’s totally legit: I do too.

But check this out: when we say destroy science fiction, we mean let’s make it like something you’ve never seen before. Which is, if you think about it, the whole point of science fiction.

So: let’s do it. Let’s tear it down and rebuild it even better. Let’s pull our stories from the rubble and the shards of broken, clichéd plots. Let’s see where we can go with gender and relationships and sexuality, and let’s not be afraid of showing the full range of human experience. Let’s have every type of character, and every type of relationship. Let’s have characters that younger me and older me and right-now me can recognize as themselves. Let’s head out into unknown space, turn our afterburners on, and let’s not ever look back.


Born and raised in Honolulu, Lisa Nohealani Morton lives in Washington, DC. By day she is a mild-mannered database wrangler, computer programmer, and all-around data geek, and by night she writes science fiction, fantasy, and combinations of the two. Her short fiction has appeared in publications such as LightspeedDaily Science Fiction, and the anthology Hellebore and Rue. She can be found on Twitter as @lnmorton.


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    1. Don Whiteside on

      Amen to part 1. I spend 99.95% of my week not having sex with my wife and nobody questions that I'm still straight during that time. Policing people's identities is crappy when people do it from inside and outside their groups.