Speculative Dimensions: July 2011
Author: Vince Liaguno
July 12, 2011
Welcome to the revamped speculative fiction corner of the Lambda Literary Foundation’s website. Here’s the spot where chimera rules. We’ll be introducing you to shining new lights in the spec-fic universe and spotlighting the darkest, most fantastical works with reviews and interviews with their creators. Along the way, we’ll bend a few genres and give things a good queer twist in the literary nipple.
When I was asked to assume editorial duties for this important – and underrepresented – area of LGBT literature, I had one goal in mind: To present the depth and diversity of speculative fiction in its myriad shapes, forms, and configurations. By doing this, we show the larger literary community the breadth of speculative fiction’s reach, the quality of its representative works, and the talent of the writers working under its umbrella. I look forward to working with the spec-fic community of writers, publishers, editors, and – most importantly – readers to proudly represent the genres of science fiction, horror, fantasy and their ilk and explore everything from alternate universes to the gay monsters hiding under our beds with an application of thoughtful analysis and insight.
Last month, I had a marvelous opportunity to witness firsthand the depth and diversity of queer dark fiction when I participated on a panel at Stoker Weekend 2011 on Long Island, New York. “Dark Rainbow Rising: The Diversity of LGBT Dark Fiction” was moderated by Michael Rowe, acclaimed editor of the groundbreaking Queer Fear anthologies and author of the forthcoming novel Enter, Night, and included panelists representing everything from literary ghost stories (Jameson Currier) to horror poetry (Chad Helder), from mysteries (Greg Herren) to the long fiction format (Norman Prentiss). Yours truly rounded out the panel, as both a novelist and anthologist. The ensuing discussion was insightful and illuminating, tackling diverse topics such as what comes first – the queer or the writer? (Thank you, Edward Albee.) There was thought-provoking commentary from audience member and author Douglas Clegg who worried about the connotation of queer horror itself, the panelists’ own observations about staying faithful to the truth of their stories even when the LGBT characters may not be portrayed in the politically correct sheen of goodness and virtue, and the inherent homophobia encountered from editors who still find our stories “too gay.”
What came through loud and clear is that expressly LGBT-focused speculative fiction is necessary and relevant in the larger context of LGBT literature in general. As an editor, I still butt heads with writers who confuse sexual orientation and gender identity with pedophilia and bestiality. As a writer, I still encounter editors who claim to be fine with the LGBT content of my stories – as long as the characters remain asexual. Speculative fiction, by default, can push the envelopes that need to be pushed in exaggerated ways that magnify the real monster – homophobia – that lies in wait for us in all walks of life. The high-octane imaginative content of spec-fic works is apropos for permitting readers controlled exploration of the very real fears that ride shotgun with the LGBT community as it presses forward in its quest for full equality.
My hope is that the Speculative Dimensions column will illuminate those works and authors who, themselves, shed light on our experiences as LGBT individuals through the darkness of their literary minds and the words that bleed onto paper from their blood-soaked pens. Please, feel free to reach out with your comments and feedback, suggestions and recommendations: VLiaguno(at)lambdaliterary.org