With Star Wars withdrawals
and shakes finally coming down I’ve been absolutely aflutter with the
possibilities of the sci-fi and fantasy genres outside of the blockbuster franchise.
There are so many things to read and enjoy–not to mention the
all-too-familiar feeling of “Where to begin?” If you’re facing a similar
conundrum, start with Beyond, a superb collection of queer sci-fi and fantasy
comics edited by Sfe R. Monster.
Stories featuring war, space
exploration, post-apocalyptic settings, and fantastical pirates are but a few
of the downright awesome additions to this collection. The richness of
the characters and shared themes throughout the book create an excellent
cohesion despite the wide spectrum of stylizations of its artists. With
most all characters being inherently or assumedly a member of the LGBTQA
community it is easy to start identifying the themes they convey more
succinctly. Science fiction and fantasy associate themselves with many
themes that involve personal identity, self-confidence, self-image, and
challenging overwhelming odds. These are all things that if you are a
member of the community or are close to someone in the community you should be
able to identify almost immediately. These stories actually make them
The first submission in
Beyond, “Luminosity” by Gabby Reed and Rachel Dukes, tells the life story of
two girls who grow up to be an astronaut and a ship’s power source. They
are intertwined by their need for one another if they intend to see the stars.
It is a poignant love story that hit me right in the heart of all my feels
(pardon the vernacular). Although it’s hard to narrow it down, my
favorite story in the anthology is “The Graves of Wolves.” It is the tale
of two men and their alien son living in a tank to protect each other from a
weaponized darkness. One day, scruffy dad takes cricket son out to hunt
and they end up fleeing from an all-consuming shadow as it descends upon them.
I want to nerd out about the ingenuity of this story’s simplicity, but I
can’t say more without spoiling the ending. Unfortunately, it’s somewhat
difficult to go into a deeper discussion on Beyond without spoiling ANYTHING because
it is a short story collection.
The stories included in
Beyond are all so sharp and clever in their use of classic genre themes that it
is an absolute shame that they run the risk of being branded as simply “queer”
as a result of the anthology’s title. It’s a shame that genres that
traditionally pride themselves for being inclusive still require queer stories
to announce themselves as such.
The fact that there
is a chance family friendly this book wouldn’t be welcome in a general sci-fi collection opens
a lot of room for discussion about the nature of the genres in question.
That discussion, however, can be saved for another time after you read
this fantastic collection that combines themes, narratives, and stylizations of
art that will inspire and delight anyone and everyone.
Matthew Burbridge is a
Digital Editor at ComiXology and his dream is to stop leaving socks everywhere
and celebrate by buying his girlfriend one thousand Pomeranians, and then
immediately regret it because one Pomeranian is already a lot of work.