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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: "Science Fiction Failed Me" by Cory Skerry

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: "Science Fiction Failed Me" by Cory Skerry

I’ve always been a stubborn little bastard.

I spent my adolescence in a mountain town with interchangeable numbers for elevation and population. Amid the abundance of casually worn camouflage and Motocross-stickered pickups, it was dangerous to be me. This only made me more obstinate about wearing what I wanted and more feisty when people challenged my civil rights. I was lucky that I got off as easy as I did, but even “easy” meant tasting my own blood more than once.

In 2013, my Clarion West class held a reunion. By a colossal coincidence, our classmate’s generous parents-in-law owned a cabin in the woods that we could borrow for the occasion--and it just happened to be planted right there in my teenage Hell, in a county that didn’t (and still doesn’t) have even one traffic light.

I arrived later than most of our classmates. Crickets chirped a symphony around us while we hugged and greeted one another, and then for a moment it was just the crickets. Someone said, “Cory ... we saw that town. How did you survive?”

There are so many answers.

And none of them are science fiction.

My supportive parents often drove me the three miles into town to visit a house smaller than ours that had been converted into the county library. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I at least cracked open every science fiction and fantasy book there. I was attracted, like most of you, to the incandescent possibility of infinite worlds, these myriad examinations of the human condition, some of which didn’t involve chewing tobacco.

I needed to see fantastic writers imagining a future that included me, that starred me. I know now that queer work existed, but those stories were so few that they never made it to me out there in the mountains. I would have adored volumes like Luck in the Shadows, Swordspoint, and The Left Hand of Darkness, but the available fare was exclusively heteronormative, cisgender monogamy. And the future I imagined for myself was haunted by the possibility of ending up like Brandon Teena and Matthew Shepard.

So I survived because hiking alone in the wilderness gave me the confidence of knowing what kind of animal I am. I survived because I found a tiny but strong support network of family and friends. And I survived because I am a stubborn little bastard who wasn’t about to let anyone else win the game of Me versus Them.

Now I’m turning my stubborn little bastardry to setting science fiction on fire. Let’s make sure that there are so many queer voices in our genre that even tiny rural libraries can’t avoid them. If people want to read about the future, they’ll read about us, because we’re not going to disappear if humanity colonizes Mars or reaches the singularity any more than I disappeared in rural Idaho.

I’m in your future, science fiction, and I’d like to see you stop me.


Cory Skerry writes amusing lies and paints what he shouldn’t. He lives in a quirky old house with his partner, his other partner, her partner, and their menagerie. When his human meatsuit falls apart, he’d like science to put his brain into a giant octopus body, with which he will be very responsible and not even a little bit shipwrecky. He pinky swears. You can find more of his nonsense at

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    1. Melissa Shumake

      i knew this was going to end up being about idaho...