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Rainbow Reading: Queer Utopias Are Necessities

Feature image photo by master1305 via Getty Images

A book in faded colors of the rainbow is open, and the words RAINBOW READING are on top of it.
illustration by A. Andrews

Hey hi hello!

I know we all talk about “staying up late reading under the covers” as a nostalgic shorthand for illicit enjoyment, but we’re all adults here, and when was the last time we actually did that? For me, it had been a minute, but following a top-tier recommendation by Tor.com’s Molly Templeton (and a co-sign from Autostraddle alum A.E. Osworth) the latest installment in Becky Chambers’ Monk and Robot series had me reading in bed, turning out the lights, and switching on my little camping lantern for the full experience. That’s the highest praise i can fathom —gosh, I’ve needed something utopian desperately and this series is healing everything that has ailed me. Sibling Dex, a nonbinary tea monk, bicycles around their post-apocalyptic eco-utopia with a sentient robot named Mosscap, surveying what it is that humans want in a world where they have everything they need. If Ursula Le Guin wrote The Little Prince, I imagine it would feel something like this.

Publishing loves its dystopian novels, and true utopias feel even nicer for their scarcity. The last time I read a book that felt utopian, it was the 1915 novel Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (best known for AP English staple The Yellow Wallpaper), and that was, uh, before this mixed-race dyke learned about Gilman’s virulently racist and eugenicist principles. That’ll spoil the vibe for sure 🙃 so please, what other utopian novels should I read? Are there (gasp) any other particularly gay utopian novels? I’ve got a hankering for more! My favorite printmaker Cj of Black Lodge Press has a poster that declares “Queer utopias are not fantasies, queer utopias are necessities!” and that’s never felt truer.

Alrighty, let’s make like a volcano and rumble. On this week’s Rainbow Reading, we’ve got:

Shelf Care: Reviews, Essays, and other Things of Note

New Sadie Dupuis Poetry!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! By now y’all should know better than to expect chill from me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

“It is tension: living well on a viral warming planet is too much to ask of any person. And yet it is what our circumstances are asking of us.”

—Joe Osmundson in conversation with Vanessa Friedman about Virology!

Autocorrect: Books content from the last couple weeks at Autostraddle!

[Kings of Leon voice] oHHHHhhHHHhh, this section’s on fiiiIIIiiiiiIIIiiiiRE~

Early Career Queer Spotlight:

Jessie Ulmer’s debut chapbook, Bewildered, combines poetry and prose to reimagine the story of Hansel and Gretel! Chapbook, zine, and indie press culture are some of my favorite corners of the queer literary scene, and it’s such a delight to celebrate these.

That’s all she wrote, folks! If you’re a queer writer, particularly an early-career queer writer: I’d love to hear about the cool things you’re up to so that I can share links to your published essays, book reviews, short stories, poems, and longform features on LGBTQ+ topics! Please email me links for consideration at [email protected] with the subject line “Rainbow Reading Submission” — I’m an avid browser-tab-collector, and I especially want to hear from you if you’ve just landed your first publication or first major byline.

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Yashwina Canter is a reader, writer, and dyke putting down roots in Portland, Oregon. You can find her online at @yashwinacanter.

Yashwina has written 53 articles for us.


  1. Indie authors are amazing for queer utopias!

    Ivana Skye’s _The Size of the World_ and the _Evocation_ series are really beautiful. I also like the work of Ennis Rook Bashe and Shira Glassman.

  2. Have you read Becky Chambers’ Wayfarers series? It’s not *technically* a queer utopia, but it offers all these spectacular visions of alternate societies, most striving to be as good as possible. And they’re all excellently queer.

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