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Beyond Binary: Genderqueer and Sexually Fluid Speculative Fiction Paperback – May 5, 2012

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 276 pages
  • Publisher: Lethe Press (May 5, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590210050
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590210055
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #850,397 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


''Mandelo's introduction explains, 'Non-binary identities and expressions are often marginalized; our voices are silenced, our identities are effaced, and our stories go untold.' Defying that trend of oppression, the narrative voices of these 17 stories are loud and strong. ''Fisherman'' by Nalo Hopkinson, a deeply intimate story about a 'mannish woman' visiting a brothel, questions notions of socially acceptable relationships. Sandra McDonald's poignant ''Sea of Cortez'' explores covert sexuality on board a navy ship during WWII. ''Schrodinger's Pussy'' by Terra LeMay is a love letter of sorts that illuminates what it means to be human, regardless of gender or sexual preference. These and other stellar stories from Catherynne M. Valente, Ellen Kushner, Delia Sherman, and Tansy Rayner Roberts will inspire writers, delight and satisfy readers who are already familiar with fluid gender identities, and leave newly enlightened readers determined to make the world more welcoming.'' --Publishers Weekly, starred review

''Seventeen stories of genderqueer and sexually fluid people living, laughing, lusting and lying their way through the world. Seventeen points of light burning like beacons above the plain of 'normal.' Seventeen tales written mostly in the twenty-first century about the future, the past that never was, and alternate universes that might never be (or always have been). Seventeen authors working on the bow wave of their own writing, riding a surge of inspiration.

These writers--the vast majority identify as female, a thrill all of its own--play with many versions of queer. The stories range from a 35-page novelette that begins at the raw edge of loneliness and ends in exuberant human connection, to a 6-page blink of quantum weirdness encompassing all possibilities. The stories teem with gay, trans, lesbian, bi, polyamorous, asexual, unspecified, and imaginary people--as well as aliens, angels, and androids. But each ends with some oh-so-human satisfaction, resolution, or glad understanding. Beyond Binary is peopled by those who are brave, who say Yes to joy--and not only survive but thrive.

Some of these pieces are truly strange. Some are delicious romps. But in the end this is the rarest of anthologies: the sum is greater than its parts. Read it. Read it all.'' --Nicola Griffith, multiple award-winning author and editor

About the Author

Brit Mandelo ( is a writer, critic, and occasional editor whose primary fields of interest are speculative fiction and queer literature, especially when the two coincide. Her work fiction, nonfiction, poetry; she wears a lot of hats has been featured in magazines such as Clarkesworld,, and Ideomancer. She also writes regularly for and has several long-running column series there, including Queering SFF, a mix of criticism, editorials, and reviews on LGBTQI speculative fiction. When not writing, she is a perpetual student and is working up to an eventual (hopefully) PhD. She is a Louisville native and lives there with her partner in an apartment that doesn t have room for all the books.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By J. Andrews on May 18, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This anthology starts out strong with some really good stories. Stories I love. Absolutely love. 'Round about the middle, we got into stories I didn't click with as much. But then I came out the other side and the end stories were all different and interesting.

You wouldn't find all these stories in the same anthology in any other circumstance, because they range from different science fiction subgenres to different fantasy subgenres to a few that feel interstitial. They're also written in different styles. Which basically means there should be something for everyone, but not everything will be for everyone.

I'd list the stories I really loved, but I kind of don't want to play favorites. They're _all_ worth reading.

There is a nice progression to the stories, so that one story does seem to naturally come out of the one before it.

These are all reprints, so the quality is high. But while you may have run across a few of them before, you're unlikely to have seen most of them.

The design of the page numbers was a nice touch.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Jasper on April 30, 2012
Format: Paperback
(This review also appears on the Lesbrary.)

Bottom line: A collection of mostly solid, satisfying queer short stories, though several never live up to the anthology's promise to go "beyond binary."

How does it treat women/same-sex relationships? The worlds of the stories all differ, from present-day Western European/North American countries to pure SF/F settings. In some stories, sexism and anti-queer sentiments are at present-day or greater levels; in some, they are below present-day levels. In most stories, the queer characters reach a hopeful resolution in which their sexual orientation and gender identities are accepted by those who matter to them. However, in several stories, queer characters' futures are left in doubt and their identities remain uneasily accepted by their societies.

Does it have explicit sex scenes?: Yes, several stories have explicit sex scenes, including group sex scenes with members of both genders, f/f and m/m sex scenes, and consensual underage sex scenes.

Would I read it again? Yes. Several of the short stories were clever, sharp, strong, thoughtful and/or sexy, with two standouts that I would gladly read many times over. If I read this collection over again, though, there are stories I would skip.

Would I publish it? No, not as it stands. I would weed out several of the stories that don't push gender identity beyond male/female or sexuality beyond gay/straight and hunt down stories that challenge binary conceptions in stronger ways.

Read Beyond Binary. It fails, as an anthology, to go very far beyond male/female straight/gay conceptions of gender identity and sexual orientation.
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Beyond Binary is pretty binary, and also overwhelmingly privileged. Also, there are far too many postmodern writing styles with impossible-to-follow narratives. It's as if they just put out a call for LGBT fiction and took whatever they got. Save money and go to a fanfiction site. At least there's almost zero erotic content. The little that there is has problematic kink issues.
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As several other reviewers have said, Beyond Binary isn’t always as “beyond binary” as it could have been, and I’m puzzled at the inclusion of some of these stories, but it does form a diverse and excellent sampler of LGBT fiction from leading authors in the field. Some names I recognized before going past the table of contents, and some I’d like to get to know more. Personal favorites include “Self-Reflection” by Tobi Hill-Meyer, “Sex with Ghosts” by Sarah Kanning, “Bonehouse” by Keffy R. M. Kehrli, “Fisherman” by Nalo Hopkinson, and “Prosperine When it Sizzles” by Tansy Rayner Roberts.

A story-by-story review of this anthology is too long to fit here on amazon, but available at my website:
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