Sci-Fi/Fantasy: Gay characters?

Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Reden, May 18, 2008.

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    Reden

    Reden New Member

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    Hi, this goes to anyone who would like to throw their two cents in, but I'm interested in hearing back from someone in the industry;

    Is there a market currently out there for books with main characters who are gay? I'm not talking about romance novel stuff, but all the books I tend to read always have a lot of action and fiction stuff and usually some form of heterosexual love interest. Now, I've been out of the loop for a while so there may be a pocket of books somewhere with gay characters, but I'm just wondering what the industry standpoint on this is. Would it be possible to publish a book with a main character who was gay in the sci-fi fantasy genre? Or would no publisher/agent touch such a thing?

    Thanks for your time.
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    TheEndIsNigh

    TheEndIsNigh ...Prepare Thyself

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    Not in the business however, I can't see why not. The only thing I can think of is Torchwood, which I think this is not particularly good, so it could be an interesting first.
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    John Jarrold

    John Jarrold New Member

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    There are plenty of gay characters in both SF and Fantasy fiction published over the past twenty years and more. No problem at all.
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    Reden

    Reden New Member

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    Thank you for your response. I know there are gay characters, but are they main characters? I've just never come across a book with a main character that had a relationship like that. Sorry to question your statement, I just wanted to double check.
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    daisybee

    daisybee New Member

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    Hi-I read a book a while ago, (the title escapes me, I'll try and find it) where the main character was female, and bi-sexual. Not a lot was made of it, it wasn't full of romantic asides or anything, but it was definitely a key factor in the books ending, and well handled I thought.

    So, if the books good, I'm guessing sexual orientation of characters is not something that will turn off a publisher.
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    John Jarrold

    John Jarrold New Member

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    Yes, I published fantasy novels by Mark Anthony at Simon & Schuster in London with a gay protagonist (I believe Bantam published them in the US). This was seven or eight years ago. There are certainly others.
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    pyan

    pyan Fortiter et recte! Staff Member

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    Vanyel, in Mercedes Lackey's Magic's Price is a gay main character...and so are Richard St. Vier and Alec in Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner.


    This may interest you:

    Wikipedia: Gay science fiction.
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    Havlen

    Havlen Unregistered User

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    I was just going to bring up the Magic's Price series. Good books.
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    Omphalos

    Omphalos הדרךקפיצת

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    It seems to me that homosexuality is used one of two or three ways by authors. First off, gay characters are often inserted as a way for an author to show that the culture he is describing has evolved and is futuristic. I suppose that works, as in the real world homosexuality has become more and more visible as time goes on, so we associate increased frequency and visibility of homosexuals, as well as relaxation of prejudices against them, with the passage of time. This can of course be used to also show a liberalization of the subject society, which in many cases is meant (and interpreted) as a characteristic of social evolution.

    Homosexuality is also used to show evolution from a physical standpoint too, and has some post-human aspects to it too. A prime example of this is John Varley's The Ophiuchi Hotline, where body parts including genitals can be switched with such ease that the homosexual/heterosexual distinction really fails to mean anything.

    Homosexuality can also be used as a tactic, or a stopgap in SF. For example, in The Forever War the population had ballooned on Earth because of the war, as people were not able to immigrate to more than one or two of the numerous colony worlds that had been found because of military action. In order to control population, the society selected homosexuality as a way to control the numbers of babies being produced. I think Burgess did this in The Wanting Seed too, and there have been others.

    As far as main characters go, A few online friends and I once put a list together, but that forum is now dead, and Ill be damned if I can recall any of them. I think we came up with Baron Harkonnen from Dune (who was a pederast too, and not very sympathetic). Now that I think about it, I dont think that we came across any that were not on that Wiki list. BTW, that page has come a long way. One year ago it was mostly erotica and romance books with a SF bent to them. Now its lists real genre books.

    Has anyone read Pangborn's Davy? I read that book decades ago, and IIRC the main character in that one was gay. But its been so long......I think that I may be confusing this book with another.
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    murphy

    murphy New Member

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    Mercedes Lackey--- Magic's Pawn, Magic's Promise & Magic's Price
    Main character is gay. Very popular books

    Melissa Scott---Trouble and Her Friends

    Gael Baudino
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    Reden

    Reden New Member

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    Thank you all for your answers, you have all been exceptionally helpful =)
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    Anatedhrai

    Anatedhrai New Member

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    Thomas (and his many incarnations) in Hal Duncan's Vellum is certainly gay.

    I've not read it as it hasn't been published yet, but early word is that Richard Morgan's The Steel Remains has a gay protagonist.
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    Karen Dales

    Karen Dales New Member

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    Here's another one...Ricardo Pinto's "Stone Dance of the Chameleon" trilogy (the third book is going to be published next year I believe). The main character is gay.
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    murphy

    murphy New Member

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    The Gael Baudino book is called The Gossamer Axe. I couldn't think of the title when I first posted. It's about fighting off the sidhe by playing heavy metal rock & roll music on her guitar (axe).
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    sdoidge

    sdoidge New Member

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    I'm involved in a local TV show that constantly hintsthat the lead character might be Gay..ala some of the moments with the modern Doctor.
    Personnally I feel that too many books and films focus on the sexuality aspect of a character who is gay. I hate it when any titilating scene is forced upon me because someone gets cheap with the main plot... just my 2 cents
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    yngvi

    yngvi I am not a Malmsteen

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    Sam Gamgee, Frodo Baggins and Gollum.... more electricity than Alan Bates and Oliver Reed in 'Women in Love'

    Did I just cross the line?
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    Tirellan

    Tirellan Member

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    No. You've just been reading too much slash fiction.

    Juliet McKenna has a major character who is gay in her Tales of Einarrin series
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    samson9dog

    samson9dog New Member

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    Hi,

    This is my first post on here, I've only just discovered the site. No one's mentioned one of the best SF books around: C J Cherryh's Cyteen. The main 'hero' and his 'Azi' are lovers although it's never really questioned. The whole book is really about 'nature & nurture', what makes an individual and so on. I've also just finished Greg Egan's 'Teranesia' in which the main character is gay and homosexuality comes up alot in his fiction: the short story 'cocoon' (recently republished in the book 'Luminious') is explicitly about the age old question "what if you could stop your child being born gay?".

    My first ever book was an Asimov, I'd just started reading at the late age of 10, and vividly remember being 13 or so when I first came across a gay character - it was a revelation (and a good one, "we are not alone"!). As an aside, there's a new kids ("young adult" yuk!) book (new in the UK anyway) called 'Hero' by Perry Moore (ISBN 9780552555869) about a boy who is learning he's a superhero. The tag line is "every superhero has a secret" - Guess what his is... It's a lovely book and I only wish I'd been given it when I was 14 or 15.
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    Mharvey

    Mharvey Sports Reporter

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    Though I'm new here, I'll take a crack at this one as it's of particular interest to me.

    The easy answer is: anything can work in a novel if it's written well. The hard answer is: homosexuality is still very taboo amongst a lot of readers. It makes them feel uncomfortable. It's a challenge for me, as I know for a fact, one of my character's is gay in a novel I'm writing.

    What I've found works in writing a gay character is less is more. Make him a character first, a gay man/knight/kid second. If he's a likable character first, then we find out he's gay halfway through the novel, most readers can digest it.

    The best example I can think of is Albus Dumbledore from Harry Potter - we had no idea he was a homosexual character, yet the fact he was revealed to be gay after the fact really casts an extra level of illumination on him, and really wasn't unbelievable, given how he acted in many situations.

    Hope this helps!
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    Raith

    Raith Noice hat!!

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    I am reading an extraordinary book right now in which the main character is bisexual. It seems to be the norm in the culture, not thought twice about. It might help to have it be the 'cultural norm'.

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