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Diverse SFF books: recs & discussion!

Discussion in 'Novels & Stories' started by Aspasia, Aug 19, 2016.

  1. Aspasia

    Aspasia Sage

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    Here's a thread for recommending & discussing diverse SFF books! I would really like the focus for this thread to be on friendly recommendation & discussing what you enjoyed--what awesome diverse SFF have you found, what would you like recommendations for? I'm part of several diverse literature communities online and spend a lot of time discussing representation in books. I love rec'ing books (I'm first a reader, then a writer, always have been), and sometimes just reading something done well is much more valuable than the debates & contention that frequently surround this topic. So let's talk about some great books!

    What do I mean by "diverse SFF"? Representation of marginalized identities in science fiction and fantasy. In simplified bullet format:
    - PoC characters
    - LGBTQIA+ characters
    - disabled characters
    - books by authors who fall into one or more of these groups
    - lots more! These are just the main ones usually discussed.

    You may never have heard of a scifi book with a disabled main character, or fantasy book with a trans main character, or futuristic alien first-contact novel set in Nigeria. But the awesome thing is they're all out there, often in numbers.

    Here's a few recs to start off!

    Intense epic fantasy, with an unusual dream-based magic system (and religion), that tackles the themes of brotherhood, sacrifice, corruption, where nearly every character is black & LGBT+ relationships are casually included? The Killing Moon by NK Jemisin. This is one of those fantasy books that stays with you for a long time. Incredible.

    Aforementioned futuristic alien first-contact book? Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor. Another really intense book.

    Fantasy about duellists with beautiful prose and LGBT+ main characters? Ellen Kushner's Swords of Riverside series. I really enjoyed Swordspoint, but Privilege of the Sword, book #2, is supposed to be much much better.

    Apocalyptic sci-fi anthology where every story features a disabled main character? Defying Doomsday. I need this! Recently published.

    I have to mention this book even though it's not out yet and will be published in early September. Necrotech by K.C. Alexander is one of the best scifi books I've ever read. Incredibly fast-pased thrill ride with a bisexual main character who has a prosthetic arm. I loved it so much I'm going to shove it in everyone's faces once it gets published. This book is pure ACTION.

    I have TONS of recs for YA (Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho is amazing) too but I stuck to adult-marketed SFF above.

    What diverse SFF have you read that you really enjoyed? What are you looking for?
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2016
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  2. Hi!

    Any YA recs? Specifically those with disabled characters that aren't completely helpless and exist to elicit pity or protective instincts. I'd also be interested in finding stories that handle religion. I don't know if i've ever read a fantasy book with a religious MC.

    I'm trying to think of books i have read...
     
  3. Russ

    Russ Istar

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    Anything at all by my good friend Nalo Hopkinson. Her books fulfill several of those categories. I have a particular soft spot for Salt Roads (Gaylactic award winner) but all of her work is both fantastic and widely diverse.

    I am enjoying GGK's Under Heaven right now, which I think meets your criteria as well.

    And if you really want to step out you could have a read of Moorcock's classic Cornelius Chronicles.
     
  4. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

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    The Archer's Heart by Astrid Amara. A trilogy featuring three gay men as main characters, in a fantasy world modeled on ancient Indian culture. Epic fantasy, political intrigue, social change, and some romance. A good one for anyone interested in a non-European approach.

    I also enjoyed her book The Devil Lancer, which is set during the Crimean War during the 19th C.—and I realized I knew nothing about that conflict before. Had some truly great battle scenes and an interesting devil/demon/possession theme. Again, features a gay male character.
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2016
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  5. Aspasia

    Aspasia Sage

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    Yes! Here's a few that I know of. Goodreads links to follow:

    I really recommend the author Corinne Duyvis for YA with disabled main characters. She's very active in the community and is awesome for recs of books featuring disability rep other than her own as well! Otherbound is a parallel-world-setting YA fantasy novel (ok that might be confusing. Secondary fantasy world is parallel to our real world). It has physically disabled leads and LGBT+ rep! On The Edge of Gone is a YA dystopian scifi with an autistic main character. Everywhere I've seen people are really loving this one! It's on my TBR as soon as someone returns it to my library ...

    One that I absolutely need is Ascension by Jacqueline Koyanagi. I'm not sure if this is YA. Space travel sci-fi with badass disabled main character who is lesbian and PoC! She's a sky surgeon!

    Fantasy with religious characters ... Shira Glassman writes Jewish LGBT+ fantasy novels (Mangoverse series, first one here) which are on my TBR pile. Her description of her work is "Jewish women rescue literally ... everybody". Plus she is an awesome person and rec's tons of other books to people (she's one of the main reasons I have a decent disability in SFF list!).

    The N.K. Jemisin novel I recommended above (GR link: The Killing Moon) has a VERY strong religious component, and very religious characters. The religion and magic system are intertwined deeply (dream magic! It's so good).

    YES NALO HOPKINSON. I need more of her books! GGK's writing style is just so lovely, my favorite was Lions of Al-Rassan, I own Under Heaven but haven't gotten to it yet!

    OK the quote thing is mad at me but @FifthView that one's new to me, thanks for mentioning it! I feel like I've heard that author before somewhere. That series sounds very original, I'll have to check it out.


    I literally just started The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi, a romantic YA fantasy set in a South Asian-inspired setting which I've heard lots of great things about. I can tell you that the writing is beautiful--pulls you in immediately and has great imagery. I usually don't enjoy romance-heavy novels but this one might change my mind.
     
  6. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    One thing that I've kind of been looking for is what might be called "The Lord of the Rings for a different culture," especially those we don't see portrayed well very often. Any suggestions?
     
  7. Aspasia

    Aspasia Sage

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    Ahhh this one's actually much more difficult than I thought it would be! I haven't sought out this style of book in a while. One potential book would be Nnedi Okorafor's Who Fears Death (I'm reading this next month for a book club):

    It has the elements of a fellowship, a great evil, a desperate quest for survival. However, it's set in the far future--scifi, not fantasy! I'm certain I've read a secondary-world fantasy, once I recall it I'll be back ...
     
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  8. Aspasia

    Aspasia Sage

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    So I finished The Star-Touched Queen a few days ago and wow, what a lyrical and excellent book! If you like mythology-inspired fantasy about death and the Underworld, I highly recommend this book. It's deeply steeped in South Asian culture and mythology in a way that I haven't read before, deliciously poignant and much more mature than many YA books I've read before. Handles themes of trust and loss, agency and gilded cages. The writing was gorgeous, one of the most richly imagined books I've read in a while. I wasn't a fan of the love story (disclaimer: I rarely am) but I enjoyed Maya, the main character, so much that I was still sad when bad stuff happens with her relationship. Definitely will pick up the second book!

    Currently debating whether to dive into The Fifth Season, or read another YA.

    Random recommendation: If you like weird magical corporations fighting over dead gods, Aztec-inspired settings, and awesome heroines who get stuff done (there's a powerful businesswoman! Who isn't evil!), I recommend Max Gladstone's Craft sequence, Book 1: Three Parts Dead. It's got great racial diversity and casual LGBT+ inclusion. Plus the premise (epic magical insurance agencies in a politically corrupt, Aztec-inspired world with fallible gods!) is just so original, it was great fun to read. I am not sure how Gladstone made insurance epic, but he did.

    I've been trying to get into more scifi recently, which space operas or hard scifi books have you read read that take place in a diverse future which you enjoyed? Or alternately, fantasy heavily influenced by non-Western mythology like Star-Touched Queen above?

    (If you want short fantasy heavily influenced by South Asian culture & mythology, I strongly recommend Shveta Thakrar, who is a wonderful author of short stories).
     
  9. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    Ellen Kushner is great.

    As for a recent recommendation, pick up An Accident of Stars, by Foz Meadows.
     
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  10. Russ

    Russ Istar

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  11. Aspasia

    Aspasia Sage

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    I've seen An Accident of Stars floating around and it's definitely on my list! I haven't read a lot of portal fantasy, I mostly read secondary world, but it looks like a really good, fun story.

    Have you all seen this wonderful list of 2016 f/f SFF books? All 2016 releases and all HEA/HFN! I'm so excited, several books from my TBR are on there (An Accident of Stars for one!) but there's so many more I haven't seen before! Goodreads List here.

    @Russ thanks for the link! What a great resource! I'll definitely be going through the list of winners later.
     
  12. Evaine

    Evaine New Member

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    I don't think anyone's mentioned Kate Elliott yet - her Spiritwalker trilogy is brilliant fun, with lots of diverse characters.
     
  13. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    Haven't read those, but I recently picked up Jaran. We will see how that is.
     
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