Book Review: “Love Beyond Body, Space, and Time: An Indigenous LGBT Sci-Fi Anthology”

lovebeyond

Love Beyond Body, Space, and Time: An Indigenous LGBT Sci-Fi Anthology (edited by Hope Nicholson) was suggested to me by a co-worker and I was thrilled when I heard the premise – stories that sit in the middle of a Venn diagram of science fiction, Indigenous, and queer themes. Hitting even two of the three at a time is impressive, but the stories are also mostly Canadian (!) and some are even femme-centric (!!!). There are big names like Richard Van Camp and new voices like Gwen Benaway, and all contributing authors are Indigenous.

Each story varies considerably as to how heavily sci-fi, queer, or Indigenous themed it is and I didn’t feel like any aspects were forced into the stories. I read a lot of science-fiction short stories and I find the genre, like some queer fiction, thrives in short story format because the length means some exposition has to be eradicated. Concepts like interplanetary travel or gender transition are not new things for the narrator, so the story and the characters are able to shine.

Colonization and objectification of bodies are common themes in Indigenous and queer literature, but also in science fiction. Notions of Indigenous nationhood and identity tend to be framed historically rather than in the future tense, and it was refreshing to read such explicit depictions of Indigenous characters outside of stereotypical environments. When you actually read the words of Indigenous or queer (or both!) people, there is both a universality of emotion as well as insights that you will not get with non-Indigenous or non-queer writers. Love is beyond stereotypes as well as body, space, and time.

Stand-outs for me were: Perfectly You, by David A. Robertson, Legends Are Made, Not Born, by Cherie Dimaline Néle, by Darcie Little Badger, Transitions, by Gwen Benaway, and Valediction at the Star View Motel, by Nathan Adler. I would have happily read a full length novel of Néle, and Transitions is a stand-out introduction to Gwen Benaway.

Some similar titles to seek out are: Sovereign Erotics: A Collection of Two-Spirit Literature (various contributors), Walking the Clouds: an anthology of Indigenous Science Fiction (edited by Grace L. Dillon) and mitêwâcimowina: Indigenous Science Fiction and Speculative Storytelling (edited by Neal Mcleod)

 

Ginny Landry is Métis and Swedish, and does library work on Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh territories in the Lower Mainland of BC.

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