The discussion and analysis of the prevalence of queer settings and characters within speculative fiction works is not new. In fact, The Other Wiki has published an actual researched and referenced book on the topic.
Other publications of interest:
- Eric Garber and Lyn Paleo's Uranian Worlds: A Reader's Guide to Alternative Sexuality in Science Fiction and Fantasy (1983)
- Jude Roberts' Gender and Sexuality in Contemporary Popular Fantasy: Beyond Boy Wizards and Kick-ass Chicks (2016)
- Barry Keith Grant's The Dread of Difference: Gender and the Horror Film (2015)
- Camille Bacon Smith's "Gay and Lesbian Presence in Science Fiction", University of Pennsylvania (2000)
- Wendy Pearson's Queer Universes: Sexualities in Science Fiction (2008)
Archaic (Greek) Period (pre-0):
Though the Greek society was accepting of homosexual relations, it was created as part of a hierarchical society. This prevented it from being anything but a submission of power by the participant of lower status. Homosexual romance was often discredited, even if not explicitly frowned upon. In situations where it was accepted, it was not seen as different than heteronormative romance. However, the view of both sex and romance as apart from the Olympic (Deistic
) world prevented any definitive overlap between legend (the speculative fiction of the time) and sexuality. In some instances the idea is subverted by using the normalised nature of deviant sexuality and mythical power to discuss both themes in line with the other but only as realism.
Proto-Speculative Fiction and Lesbian Vampires (pre-1900 through 1920):
The introduction of this trope is Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu
of 1872, described as a "way to hint at or titillate with the taboo idea of lesbianism in a fantasy context outside the heavily censored realm of social realism." However, whilst speculative fiction more typically treats LGBT+ themes positively, the early SF and especially lesbian vampire uses more focussed on the exploitation
of taboo and creating monstrosity
. By using a literal monster in the form of the vampire, it criminalised lesbianism, and other uses of "disturbed" or liminal characters was used to create fear of the alien or Other science fiction societies aligned with xenophobia.
Pulp Fiction (1920-1940):
Publishing codes throughout this era typically restricted any kind of overt or covert sexual implications. However, because of the relative blindness towards homosexuality and the pervy factor, a lot of implicit female homosexual slipped through. There are also exceptions made when, again, presenting homosexual characters as villains or monsters. Moralistic in nature, the Aesops
tended to err more on "be celibate" rather than "be straight"; some of the most notable works of the era had the queer characters depicted as mutants or other transhumans, presumably emphasising their difference. A few of these did manage to take on an angle that, whilst not equal rights, did somewhat resemble the Frankenstein
plot of individual merit and the damning effects of society. Works also came from less-controlled countries and the East, giving rise to women depicted in provocative positions without men in order to bypass censors, often inadvertently giving cause to suggest homosexuality. In comics the pin-up-trapped-by-tentacles grew in popularity, leading to the alternative sexuality implications of alien/human sex. During this era, Brave New World
was published, in effect satirising this society's mores.
The Golden Age of Science Fiction (1940-1960):
The New Wave of Science Fiction (1960-1980):
Modern Speculative Fiction (1980-2000):
Prevalence in Podcasts and Independently-produced New Media:
Lack of prevalence in traditional Comic forms: