cover image Wilde Stories 2016: The Year’s Best Gay Speculative Fiction

Wilde Stories 2016: The Year’s Best Gay Speculative Fiction

Edited by Steve Berman. Lethe, $15 trade paper (236p) ISBN 978-1-59021-613-2

Melancholy stories weave substance and emotion into thought provoking tales of discovery, perseverance, and sacrifice in Berman’s collection of 15 of the year’s best gay-themed speculative stories. A self-loathing “rent boy” dispels his ghosts with help from a Greenwich Village drag queen in veteran writer Richard Bowes’s “The Duchess and the Ghost.” Love transcends humanity in newcomer Jared W. Cooper’s forlorn “What Lasts.” In Haralambi Markov’s “The Language of Knives,” a stoic craftsman performs a death ritual on his warrior husband’s body. Alien visitors succumb to love in both Paul Magrs’s humorous “Imaginary Boys,” in which a time traveler narrates a teenager’s life, and Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam’s lighthearted “He Came from a Place of Openness and Truth,” in which alien Mickey clones his human boyfriend. Vivid worlds of degradation and deprivation test resolve: in A. Merc Rustad’s wrenching “To the Knife Cold Stars,” survivor Grace trades a cherished memory for a child’s life, and in a horrific totalitarian society, a spiritually weak man attends a hell house–style exhibition that allows subjugated citizens one last chance to dance in “To Die Dancing” by Sam J. Miller. Many troubled characters in these stories face self-hatred, homophobic parents, and defeatism, but they rise above with inspiring determination to love whomever they choose; each story excels as speculative fiction as well. (Aug.)