Tag: smash the kyriarchy

Ten Diverse Books

  1. The Fifth Season N.K. Jemisin. What I love about The Fifth Season, and the other novels in the Broken Earth trilogy, is the way it decouples minority representation from its discussion of how institutional discrimination traumatises its victims. In its world, queerness of all kinds is unremarkable, women occupy leadership roles unquestioned, and dark skin is the norm. Which means that its queer and female characters and its characters of colour are not defined by those things as they so often are in popular culture. And yet its society is also, like ours, fundamentally shaped by structures intentionally designed to exclude and oppress and discriminate. I don’t think I’ve read another novel that does this work (Kameron Hurley’s The Mirror Empire comes close, I think, but not as elegantly): it embraces the complexity of our world and the people in it in a way that’s equal parts horrifying and gratifying.
  2. Palimpsest – Catherynne M. Valente. Palimpsest doesn’t touch directly on issues of oppression and discrimination as Jemisin’s work does, but it’s undoubtedly a very queer novel. Palimpsest is a queer city, and it queers the people who come to it.
  3. Perdido Street Station – China Mieville. This sprawling city fantasy is in part a novel about multiculturalism and integration, and Mieville looks at it from a number of different angles. There’s the experience of Yagharek as he enters polluted New Crobuzon for the first time, and, later on, Isaac’s profound misunderstanding of what his crime means culturally; Lin’s simultaneous discomfort in, and nostalgia for, the khepri ghetto; and the vodyanoi dock workers’ strikes which form a constant background to the novel. Then there are all the entities who are so alien we really can’t comprehend them: the Weavers, with their inscrutable aesthetic sense; the artificial intelligence that is the Construct Council; even Hell’s envoy. It’s a kind of tapestry of ways of seeing the world; again, it’s a novel that embraces complexity.
  4. The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet – Becky Chambers. This is just – lovely. It constructs a world founded on the principles of tolerance. There are blind spots, of course: AI rights, some interspecies relationships. There are individual bigots. And there are arguments. But generally it’s a novel full of characters working to understand each other and make space for each other. And I think we also get the sense that the authorities are working to do the same thing, even if it’s a long and difficult process.
  5. Tipping the Velvet – Sarah Waters. I think this is 2018’s Our Tragic Universe for me; I think it’s going to appear on a lot of lists for the foreseeable future. I just, I love its project of queering Victorian history, digging up a past that’s been largely erased by popular culture and popular memory. I love that it takes its lesbian heroine through heartbreak and isolation but knows better than to leave her there. I love that it (re)constructs this whole disruptive queer community in a society we like to think of as straight-laced and prudish.
  6. God’s War – Kameron Hurley. God’s War has its own problems, not the least of which is that it’s set in an Islamic culture in the throes of a destructive, age-old holy war. Like. I see where Hurley was going with that – it’s important to have SFF that isn’t based on Judaeo-Christian cultures. But it seems like too easy a stereotype. What the novel does have is a whole load of badass women who are unapologetically feminine (even if they’re also ruthless killers) and queer, actual explicit bi representation, and a deeply-rooted portrayal of interracial and international tension.
  7. Everfair – Nisi Shawl. Everfair was really not my favourite novel: I found it a bit of a slog, and I didn’t get on well with the huge cast of characters and the big chronological gaps in each of their stories. But I also think those things are key to its project, which is an important one. Like Tipping the Velvet, it’s a reclamation of history; it revisits and reworks the colonial underpinnings of steampunk, to create a space for those who lose out from them – people of colour, non-Christians, women and queer people, mainly. And it’s also about how oppression is intersectional, and the relative layers of privilege everyone has, and how those privileges conflict.
  8. Ninefox Gambit – Yoon Ha Lee. This is hard SF set in a heavily Asian-inflected society. As in The Fifth Season, the world of the novel is both structurally oppressive and queer-friendly, and there are all kinds of complexities around class. It’s also a novel that revolves around fundamental differences in the way people think about the world, right down to the conceptual level: its dystopian government’s exotic weapons are powered by consensus reality, so to take a different view of the world is to commit heresy.
  9. The Clockwork Rocket – Greg Egan. I have a feeling that if I read this again I might be dreadfully disappointed, but I remember it as a really interesting take on reproductive rights and feminism in a species for whom giving birth is literally and invariably fatal. (There was also lots of physics. With graphs. I ignored it.)
  10. Ancillary Justice – Ann Leckie. You’ll have heard that Ancillary Justice‘s big gimmick is using the pronoun “she” for every character. Which is true, and quite interesting as a device; there are some persuasive trans readings of the novel. But…it’s not really a novel about gender; it’s much more interested in imperialism and how it co-opts the identities of its subjects.

(The prompt for this post was suggested by the weekly meme Top Ten Tuesday.)

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Review: Charm School

I first read Anne Fine’s MG novel Charm School years ago; I have no idea how old I was. Certainly old enough to be picking my own books out at Waterstones. I found my copy at my granny’s house a couple of weeks ago, and, well, here we are.

I’m reasonably impressed.

Bonny and her mother are new in town. It’s the beginning of the summer holidays and Bonny’s father is stuck in a layby with a broken-down removal van. Bonny’s mother is busy. Which all means that Bonny has to go, reluctantly, to Charm School, a sort of weekend club for pre-teen girls who compete for the Glistering Tiara by being the most beautiful, the softest-spoken, the most charming.

Bonny’s horrified by the effort these girls put into this, and the spite and jealousy they direct at each other. She decides that she needs to “save” them from a life of empty-headedness by making the competition a bit more exciting.

There are many surprisingly good things about Charm School! There are also, um, not so good things.

Let’s start with the feminism, because that’s what I’m all about. The book’s pretty on point about how the beauty industry perpetuates itself by setting women against each other, asking us all to waste our energy in competing for an impossible standard of beauty:

“One of them gets to come top and be the Supreme Queen. And all the rest go home feeling ugly, and think they ought to try harder. So they waste even more of their time shopping, and even more of their money on stuff to try to look nicer.”

and on how the system encourages women to police each other, so we end up doing its work for it, free of charge:

“Perhaps the pink frock suits your colouring better.”

“Are those split ends in your hair?…Maybe it’s time for a trim.”

“Your hem’s just the tiniest bit uneven.”

and even on the commodification of female beauty as a tool of capitalism:

“That’s what it’s all for, really, isn’t it? To make them buy more stuff. On and on and on.”

Entry-level feminist theory by way of The Evils of Capitalism! I clearly had excellent taste as a child. I really, really appreciate how aware Charm School is of how oppressive systems work, their self-perpetuating nature and their inescapability. (At one point Bonny has a conversation with the tea boy in which they theorise that the beauty industry is a conspiracy of “green glop men”, which is kind of perfect and I suspect has also fuelled my deep and abiding suspicion of anything a magazine might call a “beauty regime”.)

But. Of course there’s a but. In its haste to identify and condemn the systems that coerce women into wasting their energy in being rather than doing, I think Charm School overlooks how fashion and beauty are actually kind of important for most women. Through Bonny, it focuses its attack a little too much on the symptoms of institutional misogyny (spiteful, empty-headed girls) rather than the cause (the kyriarchy, woop). It judges these girls: there’s a sense that they’re obsessed with fashion not just because they’re being brainwashed by the green gloop men, but because they’re in some way less intelligent than Bonny.

If you’re a woman, what you wear to work, whether you wear makeup or not, how you wear your hair, can affect how seriously you’re taken by your colleagues – female and male, because the kyriarchy is self-perpetuating.

If you’re a woman, what you wear in public can dictate whether random men will hit on you, or worse. “She was asking for it” because her skirt was too short, her makeup too suggestive, her top too low.

If you’re a woman in cosplay, you might get unwanted attention from men who think they have a right to your body.

The point is that it’s not just women policing each other; it’s men too. And, unless Bonny is exceptional (and maybe not even then), a woman who dresses the “right” way is probably more likely to be promoted into “serious” jobs than she is, with her practical clothing.

Which is not a good reason to judge someone for not conforming; but it is a good reason not to judge someone who is – someone who chooses to play the game to protect herself. Because under the kyriarchy there are no good choices.

On a happier note, the book also glosses over the tremendous sense of empowerment the right clothes can give you: the pair of shoes that make you feel invincible, the necklace that gives you a little bit more courage to get you through the day, the outfit that makes you feel most you. Fashion may be a coercive, capitalist construct, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t value in coopting it for your own ends. Quite the opposite, in fact.

I think what’s actually most telling about my memories of reading Charm School (which I must have done several times, knowing my childhood reading habits as I do) is that I was far more interested in the dressing up than I was the feminism. (Even though I was not at all that kind of child.) Because even kids are capable of resisting the narratives that get foisted on them. Sure, women and girls are more than just decorations. Absolutely. But that doesn’t mean that we should be shamed for choosing to dress up on our terms.

(I still like the book. It does great work. I would just like it to have done even greater work!)

Review: The Refrigerator Monologues

The ever-wonderful Catherynne M. Valente’s The Refrigerator Monologues is a series of linked short stories in which a group of women in the afterlife, calling themselves the Hell Hath Club, tell their stories one by one. They’re all women who’ve been fridged – killed or depowered to motivate the men in their lives.

The fridging trope isn’t by any means confined to superhero media, but that’s where the term started; and so the women of the Hell Hath Club are all the girlfriends or wives or love interests of various superheroes.

I’m not generally a fan of superhero stories: the closest I’ve come to reading a superhero comic is Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman, which kinda counts but not really, and I pretty much can’t stand superhero films, which in my experience tend towards uncomplicated moral dilemmas, near-constant fight scenes that never lead anywhere, and actors whose idea of looking conflicted actually makes them look constipated.

But Valente achieves a surprising amount of variation in her stories, which I really enjoyed. So while we’ve got recognisable superhero heroines like Paige Embry, a scientist who gets killed when she tries to help her superhero boyfriend defeat the villain she helped create, we’ve also got women like Bayou, Queen of Atlantis, whose love interest assumes she needs rescuing from the sea despite her ruling an underwater society; Julia, a woman with superpowers who’s gaslighted and pushed away by the male superheroes because she’s so much stronger than they are; and Pauline Ketch, an arsonist who courts supervillain Mr. Punch, helps him escape from the asylum they’re both trapped in, and is murdered by him for her trouble.

There’s a strange wildness to these stories that I wouldn’t expect to find in a superhero universe. There’s a woman who lives a different life each day of the week, and only knows it for ten minutes every Sunday. There are superheroes who bring art to life, like something out of a China Mieville novel. There’s an undersea palace made of shipwrecks. And that wonderful range, it seems to me, is part of Valente’s point: it’s a rebuke to superhero media that see women as one-dimensional objects to motivate the men in their lives, when women, in fact, have lives just as colourful and wonderful and varied as men.

It’s important, too, that the women tell their own stories – that the microphone is handed to them, as it were, so they get to reclaim their deaths from sexist storytellers. And it’s also pretty interesting that the stories mostly refuse the conservative moral stance of superhero media: Pauline Ketch the arsonist is granted the same space as Paige Embry the scientist, as she’s just as much a victim of misogyny as her “good” counterparts. That’s not to say, necessarily, that the book approves of arson. It just sees superheroes and supervillains as two sides of the same coin, locked in dramatic but pointless conflicts that are utterly irrelevant to the vast majority of “ordinary” people.

If The Refrigerator Monologues has a flaw, it’s that it’s not exactly subtle. For all its variety of tone and subject matter, its six stories make the same point six times. It’s a necessary point, and everyone has a lot of fun while it’s being made. But there’s also not a lot to be said about it. And it’s unfortunate that we only hear from the romantic partners of superheroes, not their mothers or sisters or daughters or aunts or best friends. If there’s one thing we know about misogyny, it’s that it’s endlessly adaptable; it takes a multitude of insidious forms. If it didn’t, it wouldn’t be such a problem. And it’s kind of a shame The Refrigerator Monologues only takes a shot at one particular subset of misogynies – especially given that Western culture is peculiarly obsessed with romantic love anyway.

And yet. At the end of it all, we have a group of women, friends and sometimes lovers, telling each other their stories, reclaiming their deaths, supporting each other and singing together – an antidote to the world of toxic misogyny they’ve left behind. The Hell Hath Club is glorious, and I’d love to read more stories from its members.

Top Ten Books I’ve Read So Far in 2018

  1. The Stone Sky – N.K. Jemisin. The conclusion to the Broken Earth trilogy, and I think the only book that’s made me cry so far this year. In an airport. It is devastating and hopeful, bleak and beautiful all at once. It’s a book about climate change and motherhood and the trauma that systematic oppression inflicts on its victims and its perpetrators alike. It’s extremely unusual, to say the least, to find a fantasy novel that’s even half as ambitious and important.
  2. Tipping the Velvet – Sarah Waters. I finished this just today, in fact, and it came pretty close to being the second book to make me cry this year. It’s a novel about a Victorian oyster-girl who falls in love with a male impersonator at the theatre, and follows her to London. Waters is amazing at romantic suspense, at writing the sweet painful bliss of seduction, and I spent the four days it took me to read Tipping the Velvet utterly under its spell.
  3. Rosemary and Rue – Seanan McGuire. The first novel in McGuire’s Toby Daye series was exactly what I hoped it would be: smart and fun and not afraid of dealing with darkness, and set in a version of Faerie that’s magical without being twee.
  4. What Are We Doing Here? – Marilynne Robinson. This is a dense book, a collection of essays delving into the depths of philosophy, theology, history and aesthetics. But it’s worth taking the time and the care to engage with it: it’s a book that advocates empathy, and thorough engagement with the world, and the importance of the humanities in this career-obsessed society.
  5. Green Earth – Kim Stanley Robinson. 2018 for me has so far been marked by a growing awareness, and a concomitant grief, of just what a parlous state we’ve brought our planet to. Green Earth contributed to that awareness, but it also gave me some hope: hope that maybe we can fix our broken social system and find the political and social will to do something about rampant climate change before it’s too late.
  6. Space Opera – Catherynne M. Valente. Space Opera’s rather grown on me since I finished it and found it a little insubstantial. Sure, it’s a story about Eurovision in space. Sure, its ending is schmaltzy as all get-out. But it’s hard to resist its glitter and its goodwill and its generous, inclusive approach to the aliens who inhabit the galaxy – as well as the humans fighting for Earth’s survival.
  7. The Refrigerator Monologues – Catherynne M. Valente. While I was reading it, I enjoyed The Refrigerator Monologues a lot more than Space Opera. But…it’s faded a little in my memory by comparison. Partly I think that’s because it’s a collection of short stories about superheroes, or, rather, the girlfriends of superheroes, women who are “fridged” to advance the stories of men. I see Valente’s point, and it’s well and beautifully made, but I just don’t find superheroes that interesting. And the collection as a whole is a little one-note.
  8. Imaginary Cities – Darran Anderson. This is just a fascinating look at how cities have been portrayed and conceived of throughout human history, romping through sources as diverse as Thomas More’s Utopia and Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels, looping round and round its points in a kind of collage without ever quite saying what it means. I’m fascinated by the connections between architecture and literature, so this was absolutely perfect for me.
  9. The Real-Town Murders – Adam Roberts. This is a novel I admired more than liked. I mean, I enjoyed reading it; but not as much as I enjoyed nearly everything else on this list. But, like all of Roberts’ writing, it is doing complex, interesting work with genre, and genre expectations, and the headlong splintering of our shared culture.
  10. Provenance – Ann Leckie. Provenance has this fascinating double structure – just when you think you’ve got to the bottom of things you find a whole nother world behind them. Like Leckie’s Ancillary series, it places a lot of emphasis on identity politics and cultural norms and etiquette. And it does some very heavy lifting in imagining a culture that’s genuinely different from our own Western one, especially when it comes to gender norms and family structures.

(The prompt for this post came from the weekly meme Top Ten Tuesday.)

Review: Monkeys With Typewriters

The subtitle of Scarlett Thomas’ writing manual Monkeys with Typewriters is “How to Write Fiction and Unlock the Secret Power of Stories”, which sounds uncannily like one of those hack self-help manuals Thomas’ character Meg makes fun of in Our Tragic Universe.

The book itself is developed from a series of lectures Thomas developed for her course on creative writing at the University of Kent. It’s divided into two parts, theory and practice. The theory section focuses mainly on how plots are constructed (Thomas thinks there are eight basic plots, not seven), drawing on classics like Plato’s parable of the cave, Aristotle’s Poetics, and Oedipus Rex, as well as a host of contemporary examples. The practice section focuses on, well, practical matters: how to have ideas (which is honestly probably one of my biggest challenges as a writer), how to write character (Stanislavsky’s theory of acting, apparently), how to construct nice sentences. And so on.

Essentially, her advice boils down to: be true; and be specific. She advises aspiring writers to fill in a matrix that asks for things like “four jobs you have held or identities you have had”, “your current obsessions”, “problems you have faced” – with the idea that you’ll use this information, this unique combination of experience and knowledge that only you have, to develop characters and themes and plots. It’s “write what you know”, only more nuanced and practical than that makes it sound.

With that in mind, it becomes very much less surprising that a lot of this material is recognisable from Our Tragic Universe. I’m pretty sure there’s an actual direct quote at one point, when Thomas is talking about Aristophanes’ play The Frogs, although it’s not marked as such. Meg teaches a creative writing retreat because Scarlett Thomas teaches creative writing; she hates genre writing because Scarlett Thomas thinks genre writing is less challenging than modern realism.*

There’s an obvious problem with this approach, which is that, applied poorly, it becomes not so much “write what you know” as “navel-gazing”. Potentially, it restricts your range of expression to your personal experience – which is probably not brilliant news for diversity in your novel. It stops you imagining genuinely new ways of being human, which is one of the things I personally value in fiction.

But! Thomas’ writing voice is as charming as ever: accessible, clear and specific, which, given the concepts she’s chucking around, is pretty impressive. In particular, her analysis of various plots, from Oedipus Rex to There’s No Business Like Showbusiness, is really fascinating and thought-provoking. I’d also be quite interested in filling in her matrix and seeing what spills out – hopefully kickstarting my stalling SF novel back into life. (I’ve already gutted it and redrafted it once, though, so I shouldn’t hope too hard.) I…may even be considering buying my own copy (this was a library find). It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty good.

 

*This last is a little surprising given that The End of Mr Y is definitely SFF – albeit SFF with a fascinating conceptual spin. But it’s like writers of clever SFF who come from a lit-fic background think they’re the very first people to write clever SFF? And it’s frustrating, as a person who lives and breathes SFF and who aspires to write the clever kind some day.

Review: The Year’s Best Science Fiction – Twenty-Fifth Annual Collection

I’m a little late with this review: this is the Year’s Best Science Fiction for 2007. It’s the twenty-fifth in a series of “year’s best” anthologies edited by Gardner Dozois, which seems to be pretty well-regarded in the genre community. (I’ve never heard of it, but then I am not a particularly big reader of short stories.)

It contains 32 short stories from that long-ago year, plus a very thorough summation of practically everything that happened in genre in 2007 (which magazines were in operation, who died, etc.) and a list of “honourable mentions”. I have no way of evaluating whether any of this is a good or accurate representation of what was going on in SF in 2007 (although the summation is kind of fascinating as a historical document – it refers to the internet, and to the tentative rise of ebooks, with a sort of faint uneasiness that’s hilariously quaint now) – and that’s not what I’m particularly interested in anyway.

What is interesting, and a little dispiriting, is how Dozois defines those two key terms in the title: “best” and “science fiction”. “Science fiction” has always been a hotly contested phrase; from comments in the summation Dozois seems to define it by the inclusion of scientific or pseudoscientific elements. If it’s got Science, or something that looks like Science, it’s SF.

Which…fine. I don’t have a Working Theory of SF and I’m not particularly interested in making a counter-argument. But prioritising the science content of SF invariably means you get a lot of stories that expound some gosh-wow premise but are not actually terribly good. Greg Egan’s “Glory”, in which a woman – improbably called Ann – from a far-future interplanetary society visits a planet that’s not yet figured out space travel to research ancient mathematicians, is one of these: packed full of potentially interesting concepts but incredibly clunkily written. Similar is Stephen Baxter’s “Last Contact”, a story about the Big Rip which has a curiously muted emotional impact considering that it describes the end of the observable universe.

There are a couple of stories that don’t feel like SF at all: Ted Chiang’s Hugo-award winning “The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate”, which gets into the anthology on the strength of its time travel premise and some hand-wavy exposition about space-time, but is set several centuries ago, has no modern characters, and feels more Arabian Nights in structure and backdrop than any kind of SF. (I also didn’t like it that much.) Then there’s Michael Swanwick’s “The Skysailor’s Tale”, one of the more formally adventurous stories here, which, although it features a version of the many-worlds hypothesis, is obviously steampunk and thus not SF but fantasy. (In my own personal taxonomy, anyway – your mileage may vary. I guess SF says “futuristic technology” to me more than it says “Science at all costs”.)

I’m not particularly complaining about these inclusions; some of the more fantastic ones were my favourites. I guess what really disappoints me about this collection is how conventional these stories feel in aggregate. There’s a scattering of queer characters, but in a 600-page book (in a speculative genre) a scattering is not really enough. There are only two stories by people of colour (the Ted Chiang story, and Vandana Singh’s “Love and Other Monsters” – one of the standouts for me, it’s about a telepath figuring out where his powers come from). Generally, there are very few stories here that push the boundaries of what humans are and what society is – that do the re-imaginative work that is the real work of SF, the stretching of boundaries, the exploration of experience. Too many of the stories fall back on traditional, hackneyed sentiment, or project contemporary social mores thousands of years into the future.

There are exceptions. I really enjoyed Ian McDonald’s “Verthandi’s Ring”, set in a baroque post-singularity world heading for bloody intercultural war on an unimaginable scale, in which a trio of lovers inhabit a range of physical bodies, from trees to alien fish. Bruce Sterling’s “Kiosk”, set in a vaguely Eastern European milieu, traces the massive social and economic upheaval that’s brought on by the advent of 3D printing on a mass scale. “The Skysailor’s Tale” reflects its protagonist’s disordered memories in its non-linear narrative.

I mean, all this really tells me is that my idea of good SF is not the same as Gardner Dozois’. If I squint a bit, I can see a case for most of these stories being in a “year’s best” anthology: none of them are actively terrible, and they’re all doing something a little unusual, with the science or with the fiction.

But not unusual enough, dammit. I don’t want “quite interesting” in a “year’s best” anthology. I want “radical”. I want “shock of the new”. I want “imagines alternatives to the neoliberal kyriarchy”.

At the very least.

Top Ten Queer Characters

  1. Innon – The Fifth Season, N.K. Jemisin. A bi, poly pirate who’s also really hot. *mic drop*
  2. Sissix – The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, Becky Chambers. Sissix and Rosemary’s relationship is one of my favourite things about this book. They actually TALK about things instead of trying to guess at what the other person’s feeling. And visibly support each other. Also! I think this was the first queer SF book I read, and I read it when I was just starting to come out (to myself as much as anyone), and I was so grateful that Sissix/Rosemary could exist.
  3. Nyx – God’s War, Kameron Hurley. “Nyx sold her womb somewhere between Punjai and Faleen, on the edge of the desert.” Boom! Nyx is bi – as are most of the characters in the novel, actually – and defiantly, violently female, and lord knows she’d be a terrible person to have dinner with but she’s a great character to read about.
  4. Lila – A Darker Shade of Magic, V.E. Schwab. Lila is a cross-dressing, genderfluid steampunk pirate who (at least in the first book) shows no interest in romance, and it’s great.
  5. November – Palimpsest, Catherynne M. Valente. I mean. Everyone in Palimpsest is queer. I like November most, though: I’m drawn to lonely, unassuming characters trying to fill the spaces left by their hopes.
  6. Alma – The Real-Town Murders, Adam Roberts. So Alma is here because she’s incredibly unusual in fiction: she’s in a long-term relationship with another woman, who she cares for 24/7. And they’ve been together so long (and Marguerite is so ill) that it’s not even particularly romantic any more. It’s a couple dynamic we see very rarely in fiction – although Roberts presents it so matter-of-factly it’s easy to miss how radical it is.
  7. Pencil Khan – The Glass Republic, Tom Pollock. Pen’s another really unusual character: a teenage girl, practising Muslim and trauma survivor who gets a queer romance that’s believable and adorable without getting in the way of the very real dangers she faces. All this is brilliant in a YA novel.
  8. Ingray Aughskold – Provenance, Ann Leckie. This is another novel where Everyone is Queer (the best kind of novel), and Ingray’s developing crush on a female police captain is just adorable. And one of those romances that make you want to shout “JUST KISS ALREADY!”
  9. Avice Benner Cho – Embassytown, China Mieville. I just remembered this one! Avice is in an asexual relationship with her husband Scile, because they don’t enjoy sex together but still want to be partners. Which is another unusual, and welcome, dynamic.
  10. Fevvers – Nights at the Circus, Angela Carter. OK, so it’s never confirmed that Fevvers is in a relationship with her chaperone? agent? friend? Lizzie, but my word this book is definitely queer. And Fevvers is brilliant: larger than life, subversively feminine, altogether wonderful.

(The prompt for this post comes from the weekly meme Top Ten Tuesday.)