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Celebrating Trans and Non-Binary Speculative Fiction Authors for LGBTQ Pride Month

9 Jun

We’ve read some great Speculative Fiction works as part of our Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Discussion Group by Trans and Non-Binary (sometimes you may also see Non-Binary individuals referred to as enby because of the letters n and b) authors recently, which had been recommended by group members, and I thought Pride Month would be a perfect time to share them with our larger library community. You can borrow their books from the Hoboken Public Library as print or ebooks from eLibraryNJ or Hoopla. Hopefully their success will be an example for other individuals who have not yet felt comfortable acknowledging their own identities, and their work will stand as compassionate depictions of diversity for all readers.

Annalee Newitz
Author of: The Future of Another Timeline
I had written a previous blog about Robots that included Newitz’s first novel Autonomous, which I enjoyed a lot, but I think I liked their 2019 novel, The Future of Another Timeline even more.  We read it for our November 2020 Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Discussion.  In the novel two groups of time travelers, use time machines that seemed to have always excited in certain geological formations, try and work against each other to make small changes that could have big consequences in the future.  A chunk of the action takes place in the grunge scene of the 90’s that had me nostalgic for my own young adult years.  My favorite scenes, however, were those set during the time of the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, which Newitz brought vividly to life.  I appreciated that they included information at the end of the novel about their real life inspiration for historic characters and the historic events that inspired them.  Newitz identifies as being non-binary (Newitz started using they pronouns in 2019) and there is a touching side story about a couple, one of whom is trans and is purposefully removed at one point from the timeline due to her identity.  There are moments of violence which could be triggering to some, but on the whole I’d recommend the book especially to those looking for science fiction with a strong feminist and/or queer perspective. Both their books are available from elibraryNJ (Hoboken patrons have exclusive access when logging in with their barcodes).

Rin Chupeco
Author of: The Bone Witch
Rin Chupeco identifies as being pansexual and non-binary.  They are of Chinese, Malay, Thai, and Filipino descent, but currently live in and grew up in the Philippines.  We read their book Bone Witch for our July 2020 Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Discussion.  Bone Witch is the first in a YA trilogy followed by The Heart Forger, and Shadowglass.  The group enjoyed the story of Tea who comes from a family of witches, but whose talent for necromancy while making her the most powerful also ostracizes her from those she loves.  Several members remarked that it had elements of Memoirs of a Geisha, but beyond those references there is a larger detailed world populated by interestingly nuanced cultures and traditions in this epic fantasy.  One of the side characters, perhaps my favorite in the book, was depicted as possibly being trans.  In a recent social media post, Chupeco mentioned that they plans to have a focus on nonbinary characters as protagonists in their fiction that they are currently writing. You can borrow the Bone Witch series from Hoopla.

Charlie Jane Anders
Author of: All the Birds in The Sky
Charlie Jane Anders was founder and co-editor, with Annalee Newitz, of the science fiction blog io9 and currently the partners have a podcast, Our Opinions are Correct.  We read All the Birds in The Sky for last month’s book discussion.  It definitely ranks as one of my favorites we have read as part of our book discussion group and several of the other members also agreed.  It merges science fiction and fantasy, with Laurence, a robotics genius, and Patricia, a witch, who become friends as outcasts in middle school only to be torn apart and then meet again as adults.  In an interview with the Huffington Post, Anders said, ““The feeling of alienation and of difference is something that is threaded throughout speculative fiction. My experiences as a trans person always come back in my writing,” particularly “the desperate struggle to claim your identity … an identity that people either don’t understand or are hostile to.”  Both Patricia and Laurence want to save the world, but what that looks like for magic and what that looks like for science are two very different things.  Can two such diverse people come together?  I really enjoyed the humor and creativity in the work.  I look forward to reading more works by Anders in the future (her new YA novel Victories Greater Than Death came out in April). You can borrow All the Birds in the Sky from eLibraryNJ (Hoboken patrons have exclusive access when logging in with their barcodes).

Have a favorite book with a positive depiction of a Trans or Non-Binary character, or a favorite author to read for LGBTQ Pride Month?  Share them in our comment section!

If you are interested in our Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Discussion Group you can email hplwriters@gmail.com for more information and to be added to our mailing lists. We read works by a diverse group of authors, everything from classics of early Science Fiction like Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea to contemporary Urban Fantasy like Vivian Shaw’s Strange Practice. You can read some of our past book club blog posts here.

Written by:
Aimee Harris
Head of Information and Digital Services

Celebrate World Goth Day with Music from Sonsombre, SYZYGYX, Astari Nite, and Aesthetic Perfection!

19 May

One of the things that helped me get through the pandemic was checking out Goth DJ streams on Twitch. I loved seeing how people from all over the world would get together for 2 day marathons and it was a great opportunity to see what others around the world were enjoying. I’m mourning the recent loss of local venues like the Pyramid Club, where I got to see great performances over the years from bands like Black Tape for a Blue Girl and Ayria, but I’m hopeful that there will be a resurgence for the scene in the upcoming years.

World Goth Day is May 22. It was started back in 2009 as a way to celebrate the Gothic subculture’s music, clothing, and art. Though of course I’m going to be celebrating listening to classics like music from Siouxsie and the Banshees, Sisters of Mercy, and Bauhaus, I thought for this post it would be good also to look at the current state of Goth in our nation with some popular US bands currently creating music with a gothic aesthetic.

Sonsombre
Northern Virginia based Sonsombre was founded by Brandon Pybus, who had previously been involved mostly in the metal scene. The band puts a modern take on the classic goth rock sound of bands like The Wake and Rosetta Stone. You can stream songs from their album One Thousand Graves from Freegal. If you are a Sisters of Mercy fan then this is a band to hear.

S Y Z Y G Y X
Though tricky to say and trickier to spell SYZYGYX is a Washington DC dark wave duo of Luna Blanc and Josh Clark that you should definitely check out. Their name derives from Syzygy a term for the alignment of celestial objects with an added X for the unknown. They describe their music as “bleak post apocalyptic soundscapes fused with retro punk biting synth lines and minor scale hooks.” Stream songs from their EP Hex’n Equinox from Freegal.

Astari Nite
The Miami based band Astari Nite brings a mix of goth and post-punk to delight your nights; they are especially well known for their excellent live shows. Of course if you don’t want to wait to catch them on tour, you can stream music from their album Midnight Conversations from Freegal. One of my favorites is their cover of Voices Carry.

Aesthetic Perfection
One of my current favorites, Aesthetic Perfection is the dark synthwave project of Daniel Graves. You can stream albums including Blood Spills Not Far From The Wound, All Beauty Destroyed, and Til’ Death from Hoopla. My favorite song is the popular single, Antibody. I was lucky enough to get to catch a live performance a few years ago and it was great high energy show.

What is your favorite music to stream? Share it in our comments!

Written by:
Aimee Harris
Head of Information and Digital Services

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