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Sphere-ical Genderqueer Book Recommendations

Non-Genre Books

Ryan said, "I work in a small indie book store and in the latest catalog from Rutgers I saw what looks to be a really good book if it is something anyone would be interested in. It's called Pretty in Punk and the little blurb about it described it as being about punk women's changing gender roles within the typically masculine punk community. I just saw the little ad for it but it looked to be a pretty good book."

Psyche said, "I'm reading 'Dick for a Day,' an anthology edited by Fiona Giles, featuring women writers on the theme of what they would do with the opposite anatomy. I bought it thinking it was a humor type book, but it is VERY thought provoking. Most of the writers are straight women, but there are good pieces by Pat Califia and Poppy Z. Brite as well. It's amazing how many different takes they have come up with. (Of course, I have to read it little by little, since I keep getting, um, distracted... ;)" For some reason, Powell's was out of "Dick for a Day" when I looked for it, but has many many copies of its new companion anthology, Chick for a Day.

Justin suggests, "Another book you might try is Katherine Dunn's Truck. The main character is female but very boy-identified. This isn't Dunn's best work-- far and away her Geek Love is stunning and worth the read, but not a genderqueer book. (Hell, read it anyway.)"

Syela wisely said that "[Leslie Feinberg's] Stone Butch Blues should be recommended explicitly," and I would add that the same goes for Kate Bornstein and Caitlin Sullivan's Nearly Roadkill: an Infobahn erotic adventure, and everything else any of them have written!

Twilight says, "All you genderqueer manga freaks out there should check out a series of books called 'Futaba-kun CHANGE'
it's HILARIOUS!!! =D
Basically it's about a teenage boy that whenever gets emotionally excited (read-turned on) he transforms into a girl (and a hot one at that) He then finds out this (horrible? heh) trait runs in his family!!!
It's just so funny... so wonderfully funny =)
to quote his dad:
'When we grow up our genders change by excitement or stress, this is our family's genetic disoposition. Son I have to tell yout this, I know this will shock you. I was the one who gave birth to you!!!'
teehee... go go!!! You'll love it =) "


Science Fiction

A trilogy of books: Dead Boys, Dead Girls, and Dead Things, by Richard Calder. Michael says, "It's an amazing series that seriously f*cks up gender concepts."

It wasn't in stock when I set this page up, but Melissa Scott has a book entitled "Shadow Man" which Heron tells us "features a future where humanity has experienced a great rise in intersexed births and now has 5 sexes (male, female, hermaphrodite, masculinized female, and feminized male) as well as numerous sexual orientations. Like all her books, it's excellent." Saul added, "It's focused on one character who lives on a planet where the government only acknowledges 2 sexes while the rest of the civilized galaxy recognizes 5. Very, very, very well written and cool."

Syela thinks that The Left Hand of Darkness (by Ursula K. LeGuin) in which the main alien characters switch sex depending on the season, should be recommended "despite the human narrator's anachronistic sexism." Sie notes that "Le Guin has other writings challenging gender. In A Fisherman of the Inland Sea (in the book of the same name), gender is based on parentage rather than sex (although sex still limits marriage in an unconventional way)." Nancy Springer's "Larque On the Wing" is "an urban fable about a married woman transformed into a young man who remains attracted to men. It's well-regarded (a Tiptree winner, and on Gary Bowen's recommended list), but out of print; someone who's come across a copy might want to recommend it (or not)." Powell's didn't have it at the time of this page's creation, but keep checking as more and more used books come in.

Joell Smith wrote, "Couple books I haven't seen recommended by anyone else yet ...for Yule my sweetie gave me a copy of _GenderFlex_, an anthology of short fiction edited by Cecilia Tan. Includes stories by Gary Bowen and Raven Kaldera (Kaldera's story had my boy bouncing all over the car as he read it to me on our holiday road trip). Haven't read all the stories yet, but we are enjoying it tremendously." Powell's may not have GenderFlex, but Tan's Circlet Press published and carries it and many other wonderful, mostly genderqueer books. Joell also commented that "Clive Barker's Imajica has a major character who is non-gendered. I read the book a couple of years ago, before I became so... personally involved in gender theory, as it were, and don't remember details, but I liked it enough to buy it after I read the library copy."

Pae Towon replied, "GenderFlex is a fave of mine, but my absolute favorite pieces are in another Circlet Press work, S/M Pasts. Raven Kaldera's short story about TG S/M love in ancient Gaul, Gallae, is uniformly fabulous.... Hot, hot stuff. And check out Cecilia's own book, Black Feathers... Whew. If you need something stimulating to read, Circlet Press is the place to get it." Dark Water's Embrace by Stephen Leigh "also involves third-gendered characters, but I can't recommend it before finding a copy to read." And for a fun genderf*ck, read Samuel R. Delany's Triton.... It is, IMHO, Delany's best work, as it is much, much more readable, interesting, and plot-driven than his earlier works, and includes 2 precious essays at the end. Delany screws with everything - while the part where the narrator gets a sex-change on the way home from work one day because he thinks (stress: _thinks!_) the love of his life is uninterested in him because she's a lesbian is great, the part where he dryly 'slips in' little comments that totally turn the assumptions of the reader on their head are the best. Like where he says some line about 'it was your run-of-the-mill plot: girl falls in love, girl loses love, girl masturbates for a half-an-hour while singing a snow epic in the love-interest's jeep.' I wish I had the cite here...."

Justin says, "I used to belong to the feminist SF&F listserv, which is a very academically-oriented list. You might consider joining it if you'd like some interesting reading recommendations. Another book I'd highly recommend is Woman on the Edge of Time, by Marge Piercy. Piercy is one of my very favorite writers, and I'd recommend ANYTHING by her, but Woman on the Edge of Time does some fascinating things with gender."

Elspeth responded with, "Another Piercy fan speaking up. I would add He, She and It to the list, to be sure. Also, most of Marion Zimmer Bradley's whole tapestry of Darkover novels. And don't leave Doris Lessing out either. Many of her novels are fascinating in this regard, though not all deal directly with trans characters. For starters, the ones that come to mind first are her series of (sort of) SF novels, my especial favorite being The Marriages between Zones Three, Four and Five dealing with totally separated societies with completely different gender ideas, conventions and definitions who must deal with them when a series of marriages are set up by some 'higher power.' The other novels in the series are also somewhat gender-related, but less overtly so. Her Golden Notebook is one of my all time favorites, though I'm not sure how one would classify it."

Jes replied to that with "[Golden Notebook] used to be one of my favorite books too. When I was a frosh (8 years ago), it was perhaps the first book I'd ever read that had characters like me in it - women who were political, unabashedly sexual, not interested in getting married. I started re-reading it recently, and was pretty disappointed. Lessing says some pretty nasty things about lesbians, and maybe I'm remembering it wrong, but was it really all that genderqueer? Revolutionary for its time, yes, but from my little genderqueer/poly/kinky/etc enclave of today, it seems much less so...."

On the young-guys list, Damon suggested Emma Bull's "Bone Dance, which is really wicked cool and has a genderless, sexless protagonist with a lot of cool tranny stuff pivotal to the plot." Powell's sometimes has this book, which is out of print but not *too* difficult to find used.

Fen suggested "halfway human", by Carolyn Ives Gilman. "it's about a future society where there are people of a third gender, 'blands.' they are completely assexual with no genitalia whatsoever and are androgenous in appearance." Fen and Damon and a few others also suggested Dreamfall and so on, from the series by Joan Vinge. Dreamfall and so on, from the series by Joan Vinge.

On the trannyfags list, Jordy Jones was recommending The Land of Oz - the one where Pip goes through a magical sex change, realizes his true original identity, and becomes Princess Ozma. He added, "There is also a book called 'Handsome Heroines: Women as Men in Folklore.' It was written by Shajrukh Husain, and published in 1996. There are twelve stories from around the world, and they range from crossdressing for convenience tales to TS transformations to an amazing trannyfag love story, 'The Legend of Mary Ambree' - who loved and was loved by a sargeant-major. They fought together, and when the sargeant-major was killed in battle Mary - who went by the name of Captain Courageous - led the troops in unstoppable victory."

You can also search for "transgender" books on Powell's site!

This bookstore is brought to you by affiliation with Powell's Books, a wonderful new-and-used independent bookseller with a huge "bricks and mortar" store in Portland, Oregon. Their newsletter is a total delight, full of random entertaining comments and nifty anecdotes like

and in between all the great book and event information. Highly recommended, not by any organization or mailing list, just by Aidan. Their banner is below :-)


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This Sphere page first resurrected 6/6/07 by Stephe Feldman. Last update: 8/25/07.