The Queer Review | Issue 6 - Sci-Fi & Fantasy

Page 1

The

Queer Review

SCI-FI & FANTASY

issue #6

books · opinion · film & tv · new releases


WELCOME BEVERLY A. DEVAKISHEN Deputy editor

A

s a queer Asian woman, finding representation in sci-fi and fantasy seemed almost impossible. That’s why Girls of Paper and Fire (page 12) meant so much to me. The novel let me imagine a world in which my race and my sexuality do not position me as a marginalised person in society. Seeing myself in this novel was also gratifying because, as a kid, sci-fi and fantasy were the first genres of books that I read; now, as an adult, reading a book like Girls of Paper and Fire proved to me that my life can still be full of magic. Queer people d e s e r v e to read characters like them existing in beautiful, incredible fictional worlds.

queerreviewmag@gmail.com Š Photography by Shee-Danielle Silvers

YAIZA CANOPOLI Editor-in-chief

W

hat's more fun that magic? Oh, right, magic that is hella gay and gender-bending! That's what we attempt to bring to you in this issue - from bisexual wizards to non-heteronormative aliens, you will hopefully be able to find a little bit of everything, and surely something to immerse yourself in when you feel the need to escape our sad, sad reality once again. Personally, I ran away into the world of Nightrunners straight after finishing my essays, bingereading the entire series. If you'd like to read about the thieves' lovely m/m relationship, you can find my review on page 10. We also bring you plenty of TV, films, and even visual albums, so make sure to have a peak!


CONTENT 3

19

Book reviews

Ash Love Minus Eighty Nimona Captive Prince Proxy Luck in the Shadows Song of Achilles Girls of Paper and Fire Carry On Pantomime We Are the Ants The Terracotta Bride Every Heart a Doorway The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet

Opinion

Queer coding villains Queering mythology

23

Film & TV

35

New releases

Cloud Atlas Rocky Horror Picture Show Jennifer's Body Star Trek LoveDeathRobots Shadowhunters The Dragon Prince Doctor Who Straight Outta Oz + Forbidden Dirty Computer

The Devouring Gray Wilder Girls The Priory of the Orange Tree Call Down the Hawk

© Artwork by Megan Furr


BOOK REVIEWS


BOOK REVIEWS

The Queer Review

Ash by Malinda Lo

her magical connections to participate Ash is a lesbian retelling of the in hunts in order to be close to her. Cinderella fairy tale. It takes place in a world where fairies and magic are Ash is a nice retelling, and it’s real, but generally aren’t believed great to read a lesbian in, as they are seen by many as an fairy tale, but other archaic and unrealistic superstition. than the queer representation, The protagonist, Aisling, is introduced the book falls to the reader at the age of 12, and we fairly flat. The track her until after her 16th birthday. writing style is True to the original Cinderella story, s t r a i g h t f o r w a r d Aisling’s mother dies when she is yet elegant, but 12, and is replaced by an abusive Ash leans a little step-mother and pair of stepsisters. too much towards a simple narrative style. It Aisling’s mother had a link with the becomes difficult to feel invested in fairy realm that begins to leak into the characters, as they are assigned Aisling’s life, despite the rest of her the stereotypical ‘good’ or ‘bad’ family being nonbelievers. However, labels that often feature in fairy the usual Cinderella story is altered as tales without any accompanying to explain why. Aisling falls for the King’s Huntress, description rather than his son. She begins to use Tyler Oakley - ELLIE ROBSON

-4-

© Published by Hodder Children's


The Queer Review

BOOK REVIEWS

Love Minus Eighty by Will McIntosh

manages to capture the uniquely human thoughts, fears, and desires of Will McIntosh’s novel Love Minus his flawed protagonists, particularly so-called ‘Bridesicles’. Eighty is set one century in the the future, in a world in which beautiful dead women are healed and Love Minus Eighty explores several cryogenically frozen, ready to be threads of plot, all focusing on revived once a rich benefactor pays relationships between characters and millions for one to be his new wife. different kinds of love. One of these threads focuses on two women, Mira and Jeanette, in love with each other but frozen in different sections of the ‘Dating Centre’ storage facility, desperately trying to get messages to each other every time they are woken up for ‘inspection’. It’s a frightening echo of what many queer women face day to day; trying to ignore unwanted sexual advances whilst trying to appease the person, giving them enough to not get abused. yer Oakley - ISABELLE SIDDLE

The premise is dark and bizarre but McIntosh’s writing – whilst not exceptional – makes this unfamiliar world completely believable, and

© Published by Orbit

-5-


BOOK REVIEWS Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

Nimona is a graphic novel which grew from Stevenson’s popular web comic of the same name. We follow the title character, Nimona, a young shapeshifter who is desperate to become a sidekick to a villain. Due to this desire, we are introduced to villain Lord Blackheart and hero Sir Goldenloin, men who trained alongside each other when they were young, but are now definite enemies with opposing agendas.

The Queer Review

muted and subtle colour palette. This story has m/m representation (no spoilers!), and all of the characters are generally delightful. The narrative does come across as light-hearted and whimsical, but towards the end becomes darker and unpredictable in a way that I really enjoyed.

I’ve reread Nimona countless times, and I really urge readers to get hold of a copy if they can – it’s a quick read and definitely worth it! Stevenson is incredibly talented, and you may be familiar with her due to her work on Netflix’s She-ra and The art style of this graphic novel is the Princesses of Power, which also adorable and easy to fall into, and has fantastic LGBT+ representation. I liked Stevenson’s choice to use a yler Oakley - ELLIE ROBSON


The Queer Review

BOOK REVIEWS

Captive Prince by C. S. Pacat

Book one of the Captive Prince series opens with our protagonist, bisexual warrior prince Damianos of Akielos, finding himself in a coup that lands him in chains, enslaved and shipped to the enemy nation of Vere. There he is to be the slave of prince Laurent, the brother of the man who Damen (as our hero is known) killed in battle years previously. To protect himself, Damen tries to hide his identity while slowly learning that Laurent is not as cold and cruel as he first appeared.

The writing style is smooth and descriptive, without showing off. Unlike a lot of high fantasy, it is accessible and character driven; this is a love story at its core, with the political intrigue framing the queer elements.

The world itself is something entirely unique. Homosexuality is not simply accepted but is a societal norm, whereas heterosexual relationships outside of wedlock are the taboo. This is a world where homophobia does not exist, and readers can enjoy the development of a gay relationship without the fear and Book two continues with Damen secrecy surrounding it that so accompanying Laurent on a mission many queer romances often have. to the border between their kingdoms, his identity still hidden. This segment Damen is a wonderful character to of the trilogy is more of a fun adventure experience this world with, as he is story than book one, which was a far a very biased narrator and we learn darker court drama. Book three is as he does. A confidently bisexual the beautifully crafted culmination person of colour, Damen is a familiar of Damen and Laurent’s love story, warrior prince archetype reimagined of almost mythical proportions. organically into the queer community. Laurent is beautifully complex in his I won’t go into the plot of book three character arch, from the cold and out of fear of ruining it for future heartless prince to a character you fall readers, but if you finished book two in love with as much as Damen does. then you will no doubt be gasping for book three, so addictive this series is. Despite its appearance of erotica,

-7-


BOOK REVIEWS sex this take but

The Queer Review

is not at the forefront of love story; when it does place, it is not voyeuristic, loving and skilfully written.

There are some issues with the series of course. Book one features some themes that are uncomfortable and sometimes disturbing, such as slavery, sexual exploitation and assault and violence, so reader discretion is advised for the first instalment. But these themes are dealt with appropriately and sensitively and are never used for morbid pleasure. Pacat should be commended for dealing with these issues in such an intelligent and thoughtful way. There is also unfortunately a lack of female characters. There are a few strong women, one confirmed queer, but they do not feature heavily. That being said, this series is about male queerness and sexuality, so perhaps in future books, Pacat, a queer woman herself, will explore female queer characters in her visceral world of high fantasy. This series, as a whole, is a stunning addition to the realm of queer literature. - AUTUMN STAMFORD

-8-

Š Published by Berkley


Proxy by Alex London

Proxy is a 2013 dystopian teen novel by Alex London that features a nonwhite, gay 16-year-old as its protagonist. Heavy in criticism of capitalism, corporations, and class divide, Proxy depicts a society that has grown so divided and corrupt that lower class children, living in abject poverty, rely on having their lives funded by rich upper class families; in return, the lower class children become proxies, getting the punishment whenever the rich children do something wrong, ranging from a beating to imprisonment

Š Published by Philomel Books

and

even

a

death

sentence.

Despite a slightly slow start, Proxy kicks off when the protagonist, Syd, decides to kidnap his patron, Knox, in order to start a new life after he escapes the prison he is sentenced to when Knox kills a girl in a car crash. Whilst homophobia towards Syd is still present in the beginning of Proxy, prompting me to advise caution to the reader, it redeems itself for me by being an entertaining read altogether, featuring a strong and well-written gay protagonist of colour whose story arc does not revolve around a love interest, something we don’t see often enough in mainstream media. - ISABELLE SIDDLE

-9-


BOOK REVIEWS Luck in the Shadows by Lynn Flewelling

The Queer Review

book, this novel offers a comfortable pace, although the political debate does start to drag a little. Book four completely throws its readers into despair by getting the characters enslaved, a move I personally found very unnecessary. However, we get to meet a long-awaited character in this particular instalment, and both Seregil and Alec face some demons from the past that make for complex dilemmas and difficult decisions.

In her Nightrunner series, Lynn Flewelling tells a story that, I admit, is exactly what I have always wanted to write. We follow Alec, a young man from the countryside, and Seregil, an exiled noble and professional thiefslash-spy, as they meet escaping from an enemy prison. Together they find their way to the city, Seregil getting seriously poisoned by magic in the process, and Alec discovers a world he never knew existed, of wizards, court I was very glad to find the plot of intrigue, and lots and lots of spying. book five much more agreeable than slavery, although still fairly angsty in The series comprises of a total of parts. The exploration of alchemy seven books, plus a not-so-wonderful and Alec’s past is fascinating, and collection of short stories (plenty of the fifth instalment feels particularly fan service and lots of bad fan art). different from the rest of the series The first two books are the peak of the in many ways, standing as one of series, the main characters’ friendship my favourites. The series wraps up finally culminating in romance at nicely in the final two books, and the end of book two, but the rest while, as mentioned above, the of the series carries them ahead short-story collection is nothing to be on solid ground. The third book hyped, it is a fun little addition to the covers new territory as Seregil and universe, and I am personally always Alec accompany some high-ranking happy to read more of Lord Seregil. friends to try and strike an agreement As Lynn Flewelling would say, that might win the everlasting war Thank the Maker for these bisexual thieves! between Skala and Plenimar. After ridiculously Tyler Oakley YAIZA CANOPOLI the kidnapping anxiety of the second

- 10 -


Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Achilles, the young and beautiful hero of the Greeks, is enough.

The Song of Achilles, written by American author Madeline The novel follows shy and gentle Miller in 2011, remains one of Patroclus through his adolescence my all-time favourite novels. into adulthood as he meets, grows up with, and falls in love with Achilles, I found this novel through Tumblr who couldn’t be more of his opposite: when I was a teenager, and now as an confident, striking, inhumanely adult I’m thrilled to see Miller’s writing strong, and at the centre of a tragic in the spotlight where it belongs with prophecy. As the Trojan War looms, the release of her new book, Circe. Patroclus becomes more and more desperate to save Achilles from the Whilst both are set in mythological path other people have carved out Ancient Greece, the reader doesn’t for him, whilst Achilles tries to save have to know anything about the Patroclus from becoming another subject to be drawn into The Song innocent caught in a war that is not his. of Achilles – Miller’s striking prose and the tender relationship If there is any book in the world to between Patroclus, the novel’s make me believe in soulmates, this is it. - ISABELLE SIDDLE narrator and an outcast prince, and


BOOK REVIEWS

The Queer Review

Girls of Paper and Fire by who are chosen and/or forced to be the king’s concubines, means that Natasha Ngan

Girls of Paper and Fire is a tough book to put down. Natasha Ngan creates a beautiful world, with magic, animal-form humans, and enchanted gardens. As a Malaysianborn author, Ngan reflects the uniquely multicultural world that modern day Malaya entails. Little references to these different strands of culture are peppered across the pages: a deer-woman wearing an intricate kebaya, teh tarik being served, and paper lanterns being hung up across the royal palace. Seeing my Singaporean roots being reflected in the novel was exciting enough, but the real gem was discovering a wholesome pairing of two amazing Asian women. The protagonist, Lei, is principled, compassionate, and a little naïve. Pairing her up with the toughminded and slightly reserved Wren makes for a beautiful love story. The novel’s main plot, which involves a group of nine girls called Paper Girls

Lei and Wren meet under difficult circumstances. It’s a feminist story about how Lei continues to resist the king’s control over her body. Lei and Wren have to date in secret, not because their society is homophobic, but because they have been promised to the king. Neither of the girls exhibits signs of internalised homophobia. This is the beauty of fantasy — one can literally invent a whole new world where compulsory heterosexuality is not violently enforced. For a queer reader, the relationship provides a sweet escape from the reality of real problems with homophobia, a release from the oppression of modern society. Ngan’s smooth narrative draws you in, makes you invested in their relationship, and allows you to feel oddly safe. Tyler Oakley - BEVERLY A. D.

- 12 -

© Published by Jimmy Patterson Books


The Queer Review

BOOK REVIEWS

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

the universe of the non-existent Simon Snow series is necessary, but Rainbow Rowell’s Carry On is a it does make for interesting roots. strange book that wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the success of her The plot itself is a fairly simple previous novel, Fangirl. And yet, Chosen One story, in which Simon it is neither a sequel nor a prequel. Snow must defeat an evil power while dealing with his final year at Watford School of Magicks, as well as his massive crush on his roommate and likely vampire, Baz. If it sounds like Draco/Harry fanfiction to you, you’re not alone. Although the story doesn’t read like fanfiction, it feels like one in other ways, like how the novel begins well into Simon’s adventures and doesn’t bother explaining much about the setting, as fanfiction usually assumes a ready understanding of the universe from fans of the series.

In Fangirl, the main character writes fanfiction for the in-universe version of the Harry Potter series - Carry On is that fanfiction. Of course, this is a standalone novel and no previous knowledge of Fangirl or

© Published by Wednesday Books

However, Carry On is a loving tribute to fanfiction culture, and in itself is a fantasy story featuring a bi male main character and a welldeveloped m/m relationship, as well as a story that keeps you turning the pages in excitement. It’s an easy recommendation, assuming you don’t mind the prospect of reading Not Harry Potter.Tyler Oakley - OLA JANKOWSKA

- 13 -


Pantomime by Laura Lam

I can’t speak for the intersex representation in Pantomime, but I did find the regular flashbacks to Gene’s family life to be incredibly interesting. They confronted me with issues relating to gender that I’ve never had Gene is raised as a girl by his family, to consider before, and I think that whilst his mother strives to seek was a valuable reading experience. a ‘cure’ for Gene’s intersexuality by allowing various medical I really enjoyed that the novel was professionals to interact with him. set primarily in a circus – it’s one of Gene’s reality is hidden from the my favourite settings to read about, majority of his friends and family and is and I have been craving more circus something that he struggles with once stories since falling in love with Erin him and his peers age and begin to Morgenstern’s The Night Circus. find romantic interest in one another. Even with the secrets of the circus Tired of the treatment from his being exposed, I always adore them as family, Gene makes the rather magical places that provide an escape romantic move of running away and for fictional characters, and that was joining the circus, presenting himself exactly was Gene needed in this novel. - ELLIE ROBSON as a young man named Micah Grey. Laura Lam’s Pantomime is the opening novel in her Micah Grey trilogy, which follows an intersex, genderfluid, bisexual protagonist, Iphigenia ‘Gene’ Laurus.


The Queer Review

BOOK REVIEWS

We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson

We Are The Ants is a YA novel by Shaun David Hutchinson, which follows Henry Denton, a Florida teen who gets regularly abducted by aliens until they give him a choice - if he presses the button, the Earth will be saved, if not, a disaster will strike and kill all intelligent life. He has 144 days to make his decision. Living with his overworked single mother, his older brother who treats him worse than dirt, and his grandma who’s daily lost more and more to Alzheimer’s, being bullied at school for being “space boy”, and struggling to cope with the death of his boyfriend, Henry initially resolves to not press the button. But perhaps the appearance of an attractive transfer student who accepts him for who he is might change his mind about wanting to see the world burn? From the very beginning, We

© Published by Simon Pulse

Are The Ants is open about the nihilistic views of its protagonist, but it manages to avoid being overly cynical as Henry’s situation is easy to sympathize with, and it’s not hard to understand why he seriously considers letting humanity perish. The novel is light on the sci-fi elements, except for the alien abduction segments. They remain a nice touch that reminds the reader that this isn’t your regular high school/ coming-ofage queer story. Featuring explicit mentions of depression and suicidal thoughts, it may be a difficult read for some, but those who can stomach it will find a particularly human story within. - OLA JANKOWSKA

- 15 -


The Terracotta Bride by Zen Cho

Siew Tsin died as a young girl and now resides in the tenth court, “the most desirable postcode in Hell”. This is where the spirits who have worked off their sins or simply bribed the demon officials enough to escape their torments await reincarnation. They live very much as the living do, though they rely on the offerings of their descendants for money, food, and servants. Enjoying the “fruits of their deaths”, many spirits attempt to remain in the tenth court and avoid reincarnation at all costs.

and his first wife, Ling’en, Siew Tsin lives a lonely existence. That is until Junsheng brings home another wife, Yonghua. This new wife isn't human but made of terracotta and programmed to be the perfect wife and lover in every way. Siew Tsin and Yonghua eventually become friends, and through uncovering a conspiracy start to change their perspective on what it means to live and die.

Original, imaginative and beautifully written, ‘The Terracotta Bride’ is a short story that feels part of something much bigger. My only complaint is that there aren’t any Siew Tsin is the second wife of more stories in this mythologyJunsheng, the richest man in Hell. laced and steampunk-y world. - MEGHNA EBENEZER Practically invisible to her husband

© Covers by Riverhead Books, Icon Books, St. Martin's Griffin


The Queer Review

BOOK REVIEWS

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

Have you ever wondered what happened to Alice when she got back from Wonderland? Seanan McGuire’s Every Heart a Doorway opens a series of novellas in which the author explores what may happen to children once they return to ‘real life’ after experiencing another world. This first novella takes place at Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children, a boarding school where parents send their troubled children who won’t stop talking about their experiences in another world. This is a fascinating concept, and I’ve enjoyed every instalment of the series so far, particularly the murder mystery style plot that Every Heart a Doorway adopts. This is also one of the only times I’ve come across asexual representation, which seems to be done very well. The series is extremely diverse, both ethnically and in terms of sexuality, and also features a trans character. The variety of representation is woven beautifully into the rest of the narrative.

the story is so intriguing, and my only criticism is that I would love for each instalment to be a full-length novel instead! Each novella covers a lot of information and events, and I would adore to see these played out in a form that allows more dedication to fleshing out the different worlds and characters that we see, particularly as McGuire’s writing is so engaging. This is absolutely a must-read. er Oakley - ELLIE ROBSON

The fantasy/fairy tale-esque nature of

- 17 -


BOOK REVIEWS The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

I usually (try to) keep an objective approach when reviewing books, but even thinking about The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet gives my stomach little butterflies and puts a huge smile on my face! Everything from Becky Chambers’ Kickstarter campaign to get the story selfpublished to the fact that it’s a queer, multispecies space opera makes me so glad that it exists. The novel follows a motley crew on an aging Wayfarer, whose job is to tunnel wormholes though space. From the moment Rosemary joins the crew, we are introduced to an array of diverse characters, including Sissix (the reptilian pilot), Lovelace (the ship’s AI), and

The Queer Review

Dr Chef (one of the wholesome ‘Grum’ who change biological sex over the course of their lives). I adore Chambers’ detailed writing, her musings on race, gender, and war, and her imaginative world building. However, the characters and their relationships are what really captured my heart. Each character is developed impeccably, and the slow nature of the story relies on the small intricacies of life and habits that these characters build together. Chambers portrays love in a multitude of forms, love as queer, love as inter-species, love as friendship and family, the love of food and sex, and the love that goes beyond sentient connections. This made the book so refreshing to read and left me feeling uplifted and genuinely attached to the Wayfarer crew. If you’re on the lookout for a plot-driven and action heavy sci-fi maybe this isn’t the book for you, but otherwise I highly recommend that you pick it up. Tyler Oakley - SARA LAPINOVA

- 18 -

© Published by Hodder & Stoughton


INI O OP INI OP NIO ON IN N O O

OP


OP OP INI IN I N ON O PI OP INI INI ON ON The Queer Review

© Artwork by Megan Furr


The Queer Review

OPINION

Queer coding villains Queer coding is when characters in fictional media are written to make them appear queer. This is done through the use of characteristics which are traditionally associated with queer identities, such as more stereotypically feminine behaviours being assigned with a male character. Often these characters are never explicitly assigned a sexuality, and writers can be coding their characters without knowing it. This can become an issue for two reasons.

screens and were presented as having stereotypically queer characteristics. This is particularly present in Disney movies. As Disney create content that is introduced to children at a young age, it is damaging to have their first interaction with potentially queer characters be a negative one. Female Disney villains, for example, are often portrayed to corrupt younger and more innocent heroines. Think of The Little Mermaid’s Ursula, who was inspired by real-life drag queen Divine. Ursula is associated with queerness, but these characteristics contribute to her villainy and exaggerate her “otherness”.

Firstly, media that features queer coded characters may benefit from the inclusion of these characters by attracting LGBT+ audiences. These will then invest time and money in content which doesn’t actually There appears to be a general include explicit representation. consensus amongst those who have written on this topic that what we need Secondly, the majority of characters isn’t necessarily the elimination of who are queer coded on our screens queer villains from our media, but the are villains. Around the 1960s, introduction of LGBT+ characters in depictions of LGBT+ characters as varied and well-developed roles as on screen were discouraged, being those that are given to heterosexual deemed inappropriate. However, and cisgender characters. these characters remained on our - ELLIE ROBSON

- 21 -


OPINION

The Queer Review

Queering myths Queering fairy-tales is a concept that has been written about in scholarly circles for years; there’s a potential to take back the ‘otherness’ our community is painted with and twist it into something magical. There’s a power in saying, fine, you want to see me as a monster? How about a real monster, with wings or fangs or any number of weapons to make me more powerful than you.

Little Red Riding Hood. Queering fairy-tales breaks out of those rigid and dangerous stereotypes.

Some of the most well-known monstrous characters in mythology and fairy-tales, human or otherwise, are those that defy gender roles and break societal norms, through their appearance or their behaviour. Often they’re women as well – like Medusa, Lamia, Lilith, the Nagi, Succubi, Hannya, Nure-onna, Sirens and Sazae Oni - the list goes on and on.

Turning those classic love stories into queer love stories not only normalises it in the eyes of children as they grow up, but also gives adults the chance to see themselves in stories they were excluded from when they were kids.

The morals of western fairy-tales in particular have always seemed skewed towards informing children of their expected gender roles – boys are brave, like in Jack and the Beanstalk, and girls are obedient, see

But there’s a comforting narrative to some more modern fairy-tales as well (the happy ending, the defeat of the villain, the couple in love get to stay together) that appeal to those of us that don’t often see our own happy endings in mainstream media.

On top of that, the rules when it comes to fantasy story-telling are nearly non-existent. It’s easier to place queer characters in the forefront of a magical world that doesn’t contain discrimination, and it lets writers and readers imagine a utopia where they can be their most free and authentic selves. - ISABELLE SIDDLE

- 22 -


Film TV Visual - 23 -


FILM

The Queer Review

Cloud Atlas Adapted from David Mitchell’s literary classic, Cloud Atlas is six stories in one, following six people from different eras whose lives brush up against each other. This hexagonal approach makes it very hard to describe what the movie is actually about without saying “the human condition”, but it is essentially an exploration of how lives can link up with each other regardless of time. It’s a very cleverly written book, and the movie itself is one of the best adaptations I’ve seen, as it changes the chronology of the storytelling to suit the medium. It’s very satisfying to watch it come together, especially with the great cast and

signature Wachowski directing, and still feels like a rather literary film. The fictional writer of the Cloud Atlas (a piece of music) is a melancholy pianist played by Ben Whishaw, whose story is told through letters to his male partner while they are living apart. The centrality of their relationship is a lovely way of bringing queerness to the front, something very rare in genre cinema. As usual Ben Whishaw is fantastic, creating an intimate look into queer life of the 1930s. Although there’s no real happy ending, it feels authentic and has stuck with me since reading and then watching it. - CHLOË MURRELL

- 24 -


FILM

Rocky Horror Picture Show It is the week before I move away from home to start university, a whole lot of firsts are ahead of me and I’m standing outside in fishnets, arms linked with a girl who has lipstick on her teeth while coloured lightbulbs blur our vision and our knees quiver in anticipation. Others start to swarm around us, no telling whether they’re boys or girls only that they’re just as excited as we are. I get lost in a pool of glitter, latex, heels and feather boas as I locate my seat, somehow feeling like I’m home. We lose our collective minds when sweethearts Brad and Janet first meet Frank-N-Furter, the transvestite scientist who is the driving force of this kitschy rock ‘n’ roll musical, and we jump to our feet to dance along to Time Warp, our faces flushed and giggling with strangers. The Rocky Horror Picture Show is not just a film littered with horror clichés and a nonsensical narrative, it’s the film you mention in a group and someone gives you the look that says ‘ahh you’re bisexual too!’ It’s the film you show your friends who claim they don’t like musicals and the only time your mum lets you leave the house wearing stockings and patent stilettos. See, The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a love letter to self-expression, and after all its crude and sometimes outdated fun we scatter out of the theatre, elated, feet aching from dancing in heels and singing Don’t Dream It, Be it. - SARA LAPINOVA


FILM

The Queer Review

Jennifer's Body This a cult favourite of both lesbian and bad movie fame. Is it bad? Kind of, but it’s a horror comedy, which surely means that it succeeded. Either way, it’s fun to watch: the directors of Juno, plus Megan Fox of course, makes for a good time.

and Amanda Seyfried’s characters, the best friends who the movie focuses on. You know the one: where they make out on Amanda Seyfried’s bed like true gal pals. As a movie that’s meant to ‘explore friendship’, they shot a bit over the mark there.

The plot itself is standard horror comedy stuff – murder, vomiting blood, Satan – and perfect for people like me who like horror but not enough to watch it earnestly very often. The dialogue is entertaining, though, and, much like in Juno, carries the film through the meandering plot.

It’s not just that scene: their relationship is ambiguously close throughout, with many toting it as an actually queer film, while others bring up one of the reddest of flags in the horror genre: villainising lesbianism.

It’s a serious issue, but I think with Jennifer’s Body it is merely However, the reason it is of a product of a trope turned aforementioned fame is one into something a little different. particular scene starring Megan Fox Tyler Oakley - CHLOË MURRELL

- 26 -


The Queer Review

TV

STAR TREK Now back on the air with its newest incarnation, Discovery, the Star Trek universe has been rebooted with shiny new sets and special effects, and a black woman as its lead. The newest series has also been praised for having its first LGBTQ+ couple – Lt. Cmdr. Paul Stamets (Anthony Rapp) and Dr. Hugh Culber (Wilson Cruz). Star Trek audiences have been clamouring for queer couples since the very beginning, enjoying the obvious chemistry between Captain Jim Kirk (William Shatner) and his First Officer Spock (Leonard Nimoy). The show was responsible for some big moments for inclusive media, including the first interracial kiss on American television, and it was planned by Roddenberry that later incarnations of the show would include queer characters. Unfortunately, those plans fell through when the show was taken over by Rick Berman, a sexist and homophobic man. Despite Berman’s

failings, a queer character made her debut in Deep Space Nine, and while this character’s relationship didn’t get a happy ending, the episode in question did feature the first gay kiss in Star Trek history. When Discovery aired in 2017, fans rejoiced at finally having not only a gay couple on the show, but an interracial one too – until (spoilers) Hugh Culber was brutally murdered. Fans were outraged at the repeat of the ‘bury your gays’ trope, and both Wilson Cruz and the director of the episode were devastated. But, thankfully, the fans' fury meant that when the show was placed in the hands of new writers, (spoilers again) Hugh Culber was resurrected in the second series. Lesbian character Jett Reno (Tig Notaro) was also introduced, and Emperor Phillipa Georgiou was confirmed as bisexual - which will make her the first queer Star Trek lead when her own as-yet-unnamed spinoff airs in the next couple of years! - ISABELLE SIDDLE

- 27 -


TV

The Queer Review

Love, Death & Robots Love, Death & Robots is an animated anthology of 18 stand-alone episodes, all science-fiction, in which the story of every episode somehow relates to the title. Out of 18 episodes, only one is explicitly queer, and it is the first one, titled Sonnie's Edge. The plot focuses on Sonnie, a woman and survivor of physical and emotional abuse, who remotely controls a monster in underground gladiator battles. When approached by a man attempting to bribe her into losing her next game, she refuses, and a conflict of interests arises. The story itself is less than 20 minutes long and the ending is best left unspoiled, but it won’t be a spoiler to mention that even in that short runtime, the viewer get to witness a romantic

w/w scene of what would be best described as foreplay. It’s explicit, it’s exciting, it’s exactly what many of us would like to see more of in media. Naturally, when it comes to the portrayal of any level of intimacy between women, the question of fetishization comes up, but personally I didn't sense any significant amount of male gaze, and found the scene entertaining. The characters also flirt, and short as it may be, the chemistry between the ladies is convincing and gives the scene the right mood. Now, how it ends is… a spoiler and inevitably a point of contention, but personally I was glad to see the queer episode be the first one of a big Netflix original project. - OLA JANKOWSKA


Shadowhunters Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments (2016) is the second adaptation of Cassandra Clare’s book series, succeeding massively where the 2013 movie adaptation fell short of greatness. The jewel in the crown of the Netflix TV series is its main queer couple, consisting of Shadowhunter Alec Lightwood (Matthew Daddario), and High Warlock Magnus Bane (Harry Shum Jr). Known among fans – and even on the show – as Malec, they meet very early on in the series, when Alec is still in denial about his own sexuality. Over the course of three seasons their relationship has become one of the best loved on TV, being nominated for several awards and winning one

for the representation of Magnus’ bisexuality two years in a row. Shadowhunters is lucky to have both writers and actors solidly dedicated to Malec’s relationship; their storylines are some of the best in the show, and they’re not plagued with misery for entertainment. Instead, everyone involved understands the gravity and the responsibility of this kind of representation, and it shows wonderfully. Despite Shadowhunters being the latest on Netflix’s killlist, the writers are not only artfully wrapping up Malec’s storyline in their 2.5-hour season finale, but they’ve also managed to bring in another fan-favourite couple – Shadowhunter girlfriends Helen and Aline. - ISABELLE SIDDLE


TV

The Queer Review

The Dragon Prince The Dragon Prince was honestly one of the last places I thought I’d find representation in. Simply because it’s a show focused around three young characters who are trying to save their kingdoms from an irreversible war — there is hardly time for them to find love. In the first season, there is only one relationship in the entire show that is mentioned, which is not even shown onscreen. The Dragon Prince writers, however, found an unconventional way to include a relationship between two women in the show’s second season. Two badass queens, Queen Annika and Queen Neha, actually have a kissing scene!

and Annika, the warrior queens in an interracial same-sex relationship. So this isn’t your typical kill-yourgays trope. The audience knows, by the fact that their daughter is now the queen, they would not survive, and there was none of the soul-crushing disappointment when we witnessed their deaths.

Queen Anya, who is level-headed, independent and intelligent at a young age, is also a form of representation for the queer community. She is portrayed as the most reasonable and strong leader, even more so than the much older kings. She is a testament to the parenting The only catch is: we know they are of her two mothers, and Queen dead from the moment they come Anya’s love for them is moving. onto our screens. Queen Anya, who is relatively young for a queen, The Dragon Prince has told fans appears at a meeting between all the that they should not assume that leaders of the human kingdoms. there are no other queer characters Viren, the unofficial leader of in the show. After all, heterosexuality Katolis, then recounts to her a story is never a given. They have about her mothers’ bravery as they promised that more representation died in battle to protect the human is coming, and we are excited for it. realms. This is where we see Neha - BEVERLY A. D.

- 30 -


The Queer Review

TV

Doctor Who How do you write a review for Doctor Who? As I’m sure everyone knows already, the series follows the Doctor, an alien with a fondness of picking up twenty-first century humans and carting them around the universe, trying to save the world. Whatever your opinion is on which was the best regeneration, one thing is certain: the show’s treatment of queer characters has aged very well. The show has - and has maintained - a large queer fanbase from the start of the its revival, which is interesting, considering that unlike other of Russell T. Davies’ creations, queer issues aren’t the focus. Instead we get what we should have in everything TV: queer neutrality, but (crucially) still queer. We get tons of queer aliens, humans and relationships, and

none of them are for a punchline or solely there to die for dramatic effect. Before diversity was fashionable, we had the tether of Doctor Who, and the quiet delight of seeing married lesbians saving the day on the regular. There is of course a thin line between neutral representation and tokenism, and I think it’s clear which side the show stands by looking at its most overt representation, Bill and Captain Jack. Jack’s pansexuality is centre stage and still never a joke, and he is literally immortal. Bill’s entire story arc surrounds a girl she likes, and she ends up getting to live forever with her in space. It really feels like the gold standard for TV in terms of queer representation and treatment. - CHLOË MURRELL

- 31 -


The Queer Review

Straight outta oz + Forbidden The real modern tragedy of our age is that Todrick Hall’s magnum opus only has two million views on Youtube, at least half a million of which are me. Straight Outta Oz is visually and musically brilliant, not to mention better written than ninety percent of movie musicals I’ve seen. Based on The Wizard of Oz, it follows Todrick’s own journey from small town to big city as a gay black man, featuring cameos from Joseph Gordan Levitt, Nicole Scherzinger, and RuPaul. It tugs the heart strings, it is brilliantly funny, and the costume design is to die for. Some of the best songs are the one about the price of shoes, featuring ten drag queens; the angry one about toxic masculinity; and the rap about race in which he’s dressed as a scarecrow.

well it can be used for not just music but to really tell a narrative. Honestly, Beyoncé’s Lemonade has nothing on Oz, as sacrilegious as that may sound. If you have an hour and fifteen minutes, or even just three, I guarantee there’ll be a song in there you’ll love. Todrick’s second visual album, Forbidden, is set in a world where being straight is illegal, and, almost in a parody of his debut, tells the story of an in-the-closet straight guy who falls in love with a girl. The aesthetic of this one is off the charts: American fifties across the board, again with lush costumes and set design. The tongue-in-cheek nature of Forbidden gives it a much more comic tone, and provides ample opportunities for clips to send to friends. ('They couldn’t be heterosexuals???')

In all seriousness, the medium of This album feels more like a movie or visual album hasn’t truly taken off a movie-musical than Oz, and I would yet, but Todrick is definitely one of recommend watching it all at once. the frontrunners for showing how - CHLOË MURRELL

- 32 -


The Queer Review

Visual album

Dirty Computer Janelle Monae gifted us not only with Pynk, the love song to vaginas, but a whole album to go along with it, not necessarily all about vaginas but not far off.

The love story between Janelle and Tessa Thompson (her partner) is the focus of the plot, when Janelle realises in the present that Tessa’s mind has been cleaned, all through stupidly cute flashbacks. Dirty Dirty Computer is set in a world Computer started rumours in real life where people are ‘cleaned’ into about their relationship, which just perfect models of themselves, shows how beautifully it was done. and Janelle is fighting against the process because it is deleting her The sets and outfits are amazing, set memories of her relationship with in grungy present day and a sleek a woman. The premise is whackier future, and it completely satisfied my than the album itself – it mainly as-then undiscovered need for a) a consists of instant classic FU songs, musical in b) a sci fi universe with c) like the bi/pan classic Make Me a queer headlining love story by d) Feel, and the whole thing is a jam. one of the best artists of the decade. - CHLOË MURRELL

- 33 -


"This is the beauty of fantasy — one can literally invent a whole new world where compulsory heterosexuality is not violently enforced."

Š Artwork by Miles Atkinson


New Releases


New releases

The Queer Review

The priory of the orange tree by samantha shannon

call down the hawk by maggie stiefvater

The devouring gray by christine lynn herman

wilder girls by rory power

Š Published by Titan Books, Delacorte Press, Bloomsbury, Scholastic Press


See you in September! with an all new committee! President: Sara Lapinova Vice-president: Ellie Robson Secretary: Betty Fox Social Secretary: Alice Pettifer Treasurer: Isaac Ahmer Health and Safety Officer: Eva Lucea Art Assistant: Jeven Valencia Copy-editor: Ola Jankowska


SEE YOU SOON

YOUR COMMITTEE

Miles Atkinson (artist), Megan Furr (copyeditor), Beverly Anne Devakishen (deputy editor), Yaiza Canopoli (editor-in-chief), ChloĂŤ Murrell (TV & film editor), Isabelle Siddle (artist)

Want to contribute? E-mail us or join The Queer Review on Facebook! queerreviewmag@gmail.com

Twitter @queerreviewmag


Š Cover artwork by Isabelle Siddle. Lettering by Beverly A. Devakishen. Logo by Isabelle Siddle


Millions discover their favorite reads on issuu every month.

Give your content the digital home it deserves. Get it to any device in seconds.