Review – Beyond: The Queer Sci-Fi & Fantasy Comic Anthology

In 2013, Sfé R. Monster tweeted the following:

“I think an anthology of sci-fi/fantasy/adventure comics with a queer focus would be way cool. Someone make that so I can be in it.”

After a successful Kickstarter campaign, The Queer Sci-Fi & Fantasy Comic Anthology, featuring 18 stories by 26 contributors, was published in September 2015. I only joined Twitter and the booksish online community in 2016 so I did not know that this kind of book existed or I would have backed it immediately. It tells the kinds of stories that I have always wanted to read and will always want to read — stories that depict homosexuality and queerness as normal, as non-issues because our lives aren’t defined by oppression. I enjoy reading “issues” LGBTQ book as much as the next person, but I sometimes I just want to read a fun romp of an adventure with heroes that are also Queer. 

This anthology is one of the most important works of Queer literature I have read in a while. Granted, I haven’t read the vast majority of Queer literature, but Beyond is personal and special. This is the kind of book I wish I had read when I was a teenager, or even younger, because it would have shown me perspectives and ways to live a life authentically that I considered unimaginable. 

Many of the stories in this anthology are sad and serious because the Queer people do sometimes experience grief and tragedy. But the majority of the stories are exciting adventures that will elicit a variety of emotions as you read. This collection is fantastic not only because of the content of the stories themselves is great, but also because there is an impressive variety in the way Queer people can experience life and adventure. 

Beyond: The Queer Sci-Fi and Fantasy Comic Anthology

As a kid and teenager who was in the closet, even I thought families with same-sex parents were unusual and unthinkable because that’s what I was told by the culture around me. However, seeing stories like the ones in Beyond that normalize same-sex parenting would have been immensely influential to my younger self and would have taught me how beautiful and natural such a family can be much sooner. 

Story 1Just look at how adorable this family is! The story on the left was one of my favorites because it was adorable and depicted a family with two dads who go on a quest to save their young daughter from the goblins who kidnapped her! Everything about it was delightful, fun, and the positive representation of this kind of family was heartwarming.

Queer women of color take center stage in several of the stories, which I personally appreciated because often Queer narratives are led by men, usually white men. Seeing these women drawn and depicted with nuance and respect was beyond refreshing and necessary. 

There is also trans representation in this anthology! I have personally never read or heard about any sci-fi or fantasy stories featuring trans protagonists (please recommend some below), so the few that were in the anthology were the first I’ve ever read. I know that trans representation can often be problematic even when it’s well-intentioned, and I am far from being an authority on trans issues, but I thought all the stories with trans characters were well-done. If you are trans and have issues with any of the stories in the book, please let me know in the comments below. I am always willing to learn. 

The Dragon Slayer’s Son is a story about a trans boy who wants to follow his culture’s tradition of becoming a man byStory 2 slaying a dragon. It’s like a rite of passage for the culture, which I understand, but the part about slaying dragons being seen as a particularly masculine thing bothered me a little. Traditional cultures, which this one appears to be, attribute masculinity to physicality and violence, so I get it. But I have always held that fantasy stories don’t have to reflect our world’s cultures because writers can literally write about anything they want and set any rules and standards they want. Overall, this was a minor issue I had with what was otherwise a great story. Especially, the ending!

Some of the stories are more memorable than others, as is  always the case in anthologies, but they are all worth your time because they each carry an important message. Choosing to read these stories also makes an important statement — that the narratives of Queer people matter, that Queer creators and editors matter and that people need and want more content like this. 

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Currently, the $20 softcovers are sold out. But you can buy a copy of the PDF straight from the publisher for $10. Believe me, it’s definitely worth it, so show your support! You can buy a copy here.  They also have some Limited Edition Hardcover + PDF combos, so if you have the money, you should add this anthology to your collection!

Add on Goodreads:

Beyond: the Queer Sci-Fi & Fantasy Comic Anthology


Disclosure: I was given a free review copy by an editor of the anthology in exchange for an honest review.


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18 thoughts on “Review – Beyond: The Queer Sci-Fi & Fantasy Comic Anthology

  1. Oh man, I’ve been wanting to get this book for a while, but I too missed the Kickstarter. I might just have to go for the hardcover…I trust you that it’s worth it! It’s sounds amazing! 🙂

  2. This sounds like such a great anthology, thank you for sharing! I am glad to hear that, despite loving some stories more than others, you still enjoyed the anthology as a whole. I have sometimes bad experiences with these types of books, where I feel like some of the stories are useless and not fit for the anthology, and this makes me so mad! Anyways haha back to this, I really like your review and I am not too used to reading comics, but I really want to get into that more. Maybe with that one soon? 🙂 Thank you for sharing this 🙂

    1. I only started reading comics and graphic novels regularly this year and it was one of the best decisions I’ve made! Graphic novels add an exciting kind of variety to your reading, and are perfect for taking breaks from longer novels. I am now a big fan of both comics and graphic novels (aren’t they the same thing, though?) and plan to read them regularly for years to come. 😀 I recommend you start reading some too. There are some really amazing ones out there. Ask Lauren (Wonderless Reviews Lauren) for some recommendations!

  3. This sounds like a must buy/read for me. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the overall anthology and specifically pointing out a couple of stories. I like the point you brought up about traditional gender norms/roles (even though they may link to culture) and the sometimes the push or perceived need to fit into those roles in order to be fully accepted. I have a lot of thoughts whirling around my head that I cannot fully articulate right now in this comment, but I have seen a lot of, not just in books/graphic novels/comics, the assimilation of queer and trans people to the narrative of cisgender and straight people. This includes the traditional, toxic, violent masculinity you were commenting on. I think that is a fair and accurate critique and appreciate you calling attention to it.

    This anthology is on my TBR but I will move this higher up on my ‘to be purchased’ list!

    1. There are a few other stories with trans characters that don’t center violent masculinity, thankfully. And actually, The Dragon Slayer’s Son has a wonderful ending that subverts the masculinity = violence trope, which was nice.
      I hope you get a chance to read it. They should be reprinting the first volume soon. I’ll be looking out for new and will let you know when it happens!

  4. Great review, Naz!! It’s so great to see how you liked the different stories and how even Queer lit can Fall into the trap of a toxic masculinity culture. But otherwise the anthology looks outstanding, wish there were paperbacks left but I might get the pdf since it sounds so wonderful! I need to look up the various creators, especially since they put WoC at the Center. It’s so disappointing to find that mostly even comics w great female leads are created by men. I need to restore some balance in my reading!

  5. I have such a large gap when it comes to trans characters in my reading. I’m constantly looking for additions to my tbr list that will provide authentic trans characters, so thanks for bringing The Dragon Slayers Son to my attention!

    1. I’m working on that too. There are a few other stories with trans characters in this anthology, which is great. But I need to read a full-length novel with a trans character sometime this year. I wish there were more stories with trans people of color, though. :/

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