Book List

13 Must-Read Sci-Fi & Fantasy Books with LGBTQIA+ Characters

June 11, 2019
Jess Harold
Riveted Editorial Board

I’m not afraid to admit when I’m wrong. For most of my life, I avoided sci-fi like the plague; I’m a fantasy girl, through and through. But it turns out the imagination it takes to tell stories about alien races or artificial intelligence is just as vast and exciting as those that focus on dragons and wizards.

I owe this newfound love of science fiction to Shaun David Hutchinson’s At the Edge of the Universe. While much of it is based in our contemporary world, the mystery and fear surrounding a shrinking universe that only one person can remember had me awake until the wee hours of the morning trying to find out what happened to the protagonist’s boyfriend! While I think this book is a one-of-a-kind, I know there are other authors with amazing stories featuring LGBTQIA+ characters. So if you’re eager for more LGBTQIA+ characters in sci-fi and fantasy, here are a few to try.

13 Must-Read Sci-Fi & Fantasy Books with LGBTQIA+ Characters

1. Ghosts of the Shadow Market by Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, Maureen Johnson, Kelly Link, and Robin Wasserman

From New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Cassandra Clare comes an exciting new short story collection that follows Jem Carstairs as he travels through the many Shadow Markets around the world. Ghosts of the Shadow Market is a Shadowhunters novel.

2. Shatter the Sky by Rebecca Kim Wells

Raised among the ruins of a conquered mountain nation, Maren dreams only of sharing a quiet life with her girlfriend Kaia—until the day Kaia is abducted by the Aurati, prophetic agents of the emperor, and forced to join their ranks. Desperate to save her, Maren hatches a plan to steal one of the emperor’s coveted dragons and storm the Aurati stronghold. If Maren is to have any hope of succeeding, she must become an apprentice to the Aromatory—the emperor’s mysterious dragon trainer. But Maren is unprepared for the dangerous secrets she will uncover.

3. The Red Scrolls of Magic by Cassandra Clare and Wesley Chu

All Magnus Bane wanted was a vacation—a lavish trip across Europe with Alec Lightwood, the Shadowhunter who against all odds is finally his boyfriend. But as soon as the pair settles in Paris, an old friend arrives with news about a demon-worshipping cult called the Crimson Hand that is bent on causing chaos around the world. A cult that was apparently founded by Magnus himself. Years ago. As a joke.

 

4. Crown of Feathers by Nicki Pau Preto

Veronyka is determined to be a Phoenix Rider, so much so that she disguises herself as a boy to join their ranks. While Veronyka is hiding secrets of her own, she discovers the mysteries of her past that just might be the key to saving the Empire.

 

5. Slayer by Kiersten White

Nina and her twin sister, Artemis, are far from normal. It’s hard to be when you grow up at the Watcher’s Academy, which is a bit different from your average boarding school. Here teens are trained as guides for Slayers—girls gifted with supernatural strength to fight the forces of darkness. But while Nina’s mother is a prominent member of the Watcher’s Council, Nina has never embraced the violent Watcher lifestyle. Instead she follows her instincts to heal, carving out a place for herself as the school medic…Until the day Nina’s life changes forever.

 

6. At the Edge of the Universe by Shaun David Hutchinson

One of the best parts about At the Edge of the Universe was the inclusive cast of characters. I was excited to read a book that not only explored the multiverse theory alongside shifting family dynamics, but also followed LGBTQ+ characters without resorting to harmful stereotypes or centering the story solely on their queerness—instead, Hutchinson treats all his characters with respect and care, giving the reader a chance to relate to their story, regardless of their background.

 

7. The Imposter Queen by Sarah Fine

I loved the powerful opening, the exploration of this fantasy world, and especially the way Elli comes to terms with her forbidden feelings for her handmaiden, Mim. The sequel, The Cursed Queen, also features a bisexual protagonist, but I haven’t read it yet, so no spoilers!

 

8.Willful Machines by Tim Floreen

The US president’s son has enough to worry about before Charlotte, an artificial humanoid, escapes her creators’ lab and wrecks havoc on the public via the Internet. I’ve heard this book described as “gothic, gadget-y, and gay,” so it’s quickly shot to the top of my to-read List.

 

9. We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson

Henry has spent years being periodically abducted by aliens. Then the aliens give him an ultimatum: the world will end in 144 days, and all Henry has to do to stop it is push a big red button. Only he isn’t sure he wants to. Can you imagine having that much power…and that much responsibility? You could take revenge on those who hurt you, but also hurt those you love. This fascinating, otherworldly but still so very grounded speculative novel from Shaun David Hutchinson is an absolute must-read.

 

10. The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow

Greta is a Duchess and a Crown Princess. She is also a Child of Peace, a hostage held by the de facto ruler of the world, the great Artificial Intelligence, Talis. This is how the game is played: if you want to rule, you must give one of your children as a hostage. Start a war and your hostage dies. Greta will be free if she can make it to her eighteenth birthday. But everything changes when Elian arrives at the Precepture. He’s a hostage from a new American alliance, and he defies the machines that control every part of their lives—and is severely punished for it. His rebellion opens Greta’s eyes to the brutality of the rules they live under, and to the subtle resistance of her companions. And Greta discovers her own quiet power.

 

11. The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell

In modern-day New York, magic is all but extinct. The remaining few who have an affinity for magic—the Mageus—live in the shadows, hiding who they are. Any Mageus who enters Manhattan becomes trapped by the Brink, a dark energy barrier that confines them to the island. Crossing it means losing their power—and often their lives. The Last Magician is filled with complex and intricate characters, including some LGBTQ+ ones!

 

12. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

Clary is introduced to the world of the Shadowhunters, a secret cadre of warriors dedicated to driving demons out of our world and back to their own. A fan favorite in this series, Magnus Bane is a bisexual warlock who has lived for hundreds of years.

 

13. Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare

It’s been five years since the war that brought the Shadowhunters to the brink of oblivion. Emma and her battle partner Julian navigate the ever-changing world as Julian’s brother Mark, who was captured by the faeries five years ago—has been returned as a bargaining chip. The faeries are desperate to find out who is murdering their kind—and they need the Shadowhunters’ help to do it. Mark’s faerie ex-boyfriend also shows up, but he also is developing feelings for a visiting Shadowhunter, Christina.

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