For nearly 18 years, Tolkien has been my literary idol. His words are lyrical and intellectual and as poetic as prose can be with neither rhyme nor meter. His stories are epic and astounding, digging deep into the nature of temptation and good and evil and capturing the heart and hardships of medieval adventure, swords and sorcery. His trilogy has become the standard by which all fantasy trilogies are judged, and it’s to his level of exquisite storytelling that I have long since aspired to achieve.
And I’ve realized now that while his tales may stand the test of time, and may be the most classic of all fantasy stories, not all within his tomes should live so long.
If I were Alice, I’d have exhausted my share of Drink Me’s and Eat Me’s with all the time life has made me feel bigger or smaller than I am. It’s a part of growing up (thinking you’re bigger than the world, to learn you’re not) and becoming an adult (thinking you’re too small for survival, to learn you’re not so small at all), but if I’ve got one thing on Alice, it’s all the Read Me’s piled up around me house.
On my nightstand. My coffee table. My kitchen table. The bookshelves. The floor.
Books abound, beneath my TV, beside my couch. It’s a glorious feeling.
Except all that Read Me is getting a bit too much to swallow. Would it be too apt a metaphor to say I’ve got the words stuck in my throat, sentences strung around my molars and tethered to my tongue?
I was hanging around the guilds on HabitRPG when another user gave a heads up to queer writers: Have you heard about Strange Horizon’s “Our Queer Planet” issue?
The sci-fi e-zine is hosting a celebration of queer identity, specifically looking for “work that explores intersectional queer imaginaries and experiences around the world,” with an emphasis on stories set on Earth (timeline variable). So I looked through my past fiction, and some of my best sci-fi stories feature gay male leads or gender-non-binary aliens–but none of them take place on Earth.
So, I decided, I’ll just have to write something new.
But then, I asked myself, what’s queer literature?
I fell headfirst from the pages of my linear algebra textbook into another classroom. It reminded me of calculus, but was of no building I’ve ever stepped foot in: the walls were white and discolored at the edges, darker greys and burnt yellows that made the corners stretch into oblivion. Low white tables sat in clusters of four or five around the room, but I was the only student held between its four walls. And hanging at its front, two large projector screens hung, covered in a PowerPoint slide as simple as text and a link.
But I said I dreamed of fantasy, and here the portal lay.