Marrying one’s sofa

It seems the thought that there are persons writing, and enjoying, fiction, and wanting more fiction that reflects their own experiences, and it seems that the fact these persons do not fit certain Lowest Difficulty Setting persons’ idea of real, normal, or worthy-of-consideration people –

– well, it seems that certain persons find this worth excoriating.

ETA: Alex has some things to say on comments and civility, with which I agree in substance.

I’m with Alex Dally MacFarlane, on this one, but regardless, you are all cordially invited to the ceremony of betrothal between me and my armchair, which is presently being solemnised.


Less snarkily: I’m a queer person.

I’m still figuring out what that means for me in terms of gender identification, orientation, attraction. Perhaps I’ll never know what it means. In a culture which defines things and traits as masculine and feminine, am I a male person with a female body, or a female person who does male things and feels deeply uneasy with female social roles?

It is much easier not to think about it, and far, far easier not to talk about it. I’m comfortable with celibacy: who I am, who I’m attracted to, might be a much more pressing matter if I was drawn more strongly towards sexual relationships, or if I felt more strongly towards the sexual characteristics of my own body.

Or perhaps I’m more comfortable with celibacy precisely because it means I don’t have to think about what gender means to me personally, as opposed to what being perceived, and living, as a (butch) female person means for me socially.

(This is, I understand, the thing called coming out. Y’know, it’s kind of terrifying? I’m okay with being out about depression and anxiety, but coming out about this is making me shake.)

Science fiction and fantasy is one of the few places where it is possible to conceive of worlds from the ground up that don’t carry the same historical, cultural baggage of binary gender, of masculine and feminine as socially concrete. I was eighteen or nineteen before I realised it was possible for me, for women, to be attracted to both women and men;* several years older, before I got my head around the idea it could be more complicated than that, that the gender you were socially assigned, the role society pressured you to fill, wasn’t necessarily the same as the one inside your head. That the faces we show to the world are all social roles. All performances.

That we can perform differently. Be, differently.

The idea of gender-as-reified, of biology-as-destiny? I’m getting over it.

I don’t know what queerness means for me. I don’t know what their life experiences mean for other people. I don’t even know if I should be coming out and saying this: will it make trouble for me now? In the future?

Probably. I’ll burn that bridge when I get there.

But I do know that SFF is a genre that can, in its stories, show us different views of ourselves. Different ways, perhaps, to be. Maybe – who knows? – better ones.

Break the binary. Break the mould.


Also, me and my armchair? We’re practically married already.


*I’m still convinced at an emotional level that it is somehow fundamentally wrong to like anyone sexually at all. The benefits of a Catholic education are numerous, so it’s said, but… yeah, that’s not really one of them.

BSFA Awards Shortlist

It is out. I am on it, for “Sleeps With Monsters” at Tor.com.

Along with a whole lot of shiny people.

You know how people say it’s an honour just to be nominated? It is an amazing honour just to see my name on that list. But I owe a great number of people for making it possible to write that column.

I couldn’t write the “Sleeps With Monsters” column without building on the work and support of a hell of a lot of other people: people like Bridget McGovern, at Tor.com, who first invited me to contribute the thing that between “Sleeps With Monsters,” and like Irene Gallo, Tor.com’s publisher, both of whom have been incredibly supportive when it comes to my work for them. People like Elizabeth Bear and Amanda Downum and Jaime Lee Moyer and Leah Bobet, who have been friends to me for a good long time; people like the community of people I have encountered through Livejournal and Twitter, like Jenny Kristine Thurman and Fade Manley and Alex Dally MacFarlane and many countless others, too many to name, who’ve challenged me to think harder, more thoroughly, and more deeply, about genre, gender, and intersectionality. And I’m indebted to all the writers who’ve allowed me to interview them, to share their perspectives on science fiction and fantasy.

I fail a lot. I fall short of consistently producing the kind of work, and the kind of thinking, I’d like to produce. But it’s been a privilege to be able to contribute to the conversation, and it’s an immense honour that the BSFA’s membership has chosen to recognise my work by shortlisting for the award. It’s an honour I’ll do my best to see my work lives up to, in the future.

Congratulations to the other shortlistees, especially Kameron Hurley and Ann Leckie, whose works deserve to be on the Best Novel shortlist if anyone’s does.