Read the Room – Non-Binary Writers on The Future of Science-Fiction. Part 1: Inspiration and Creation

Today I have one of the most exciting features I planned for Sci-Fi Month and probably one of my favorites things I’ve ever done on the blog. I’ve had this topic swimming around in my head for a while now and then SciFi Month came along and provided the perfect opportunity for me to develop idea into reality.

Welcome to the first installment of Read the Room.

Read the Room is a blog feature focusing on conversations with authors shaping the future of genre, today. A multi-author interview in the style of a chatroom, Read the Room aims to set the stage for some of the most promising, exciting voices currently molding literary genres into the amazing, bright, out-of-the-box stories we know and love to read.

For SciFi Month, I decided to bring together non-binary writers who are exploring the worlds of science fiction through their own unique lens!

Identity has long been a personal journey for me and I believe it has in many ways shaped the way I see the world which translates into my creations. And so, I wanted to hear from those who share this part of my identity, and whose works we all admire.

I couldn’t be prouder to host all of these writers on the blog (and if you’re reading this now, I hope you know how grateful I am you reached out to me with your interest!) for the first ever instance of Read The Room. I hope, and am already working on, further extending this feature to other genres!

For now though, time to shine the spotlight on science fiction, its incredible universes, and its dauntless explorers.

Tune in again in a couple hours to continue reading this incredible discussion on the genre, as this interview will be split into 4 parts, three questions each.

Although a long time planning, I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of interest I received to my Twitter call, and even more by how well-received my subsequent emails were. It’s a wonder of a feeling when you’re out-of-the-world excited about something (and a bit anxious, ngl) and you get that excitement back.

The interview quickly got long, and so I decided to divide it into 4 posts. I first considered separating writers, but then decided that would slightly impair the purpose of the feature, which is to bring together all creators at once. I decided then to separate the interview itself into 4 “sections” following a loose (and partially accidental) thematic to the questions:

Part 1: Inspiration and Creation* YOU ARE HERE

Part 2: Gender and Genre

Part 3: Past, Present, Exploration

and lastly,

Part 4: Craft and Future

So, if you want to read on until the end keep a close eye on the blog for the next few hours! (As they say, “best for last” 😉 The final questions allowed us to delve deeper into other creative outlets the writers are exploring and their final statements for the future of the genre, which I loved).

One forethought: I really recommend you read this on a larger screen (tablet or laptop), as the layout might read stranger on phone (columns, right?…you know what I’m talking about…).

Whatever device you choose, I hope you enjoy this interview and take inspiration and strength from all that our writers have to share!

Hi everyone and welcome to the blog! It’s a pleasure to have you all here for Sci-Fi Month, to celebrate this amazing genre we all share in 🙂 First, can you tell us a bit about yourself; your name, your pronouns, which color would your lightsaber be,…?

Joseph Tomaras author photo

Joseph Tomaras (JT): My name is Joseph Tomaras. Pronouns are they/them (preferred) or he/him. I only came out as nonbinary (genderfluid) a few months ago, so a few months shy of my forty-third birthday. Thus most of my science-fiction stories were published before I came out as such. Though there is one story, “Sokal,” which will appear in the forthcoming issue of Lackington’s. Depending on the timing of when this is posted, that may be in readers’ hands before they see this, or after.

My lightsaber would be lavender.

Erin Barbeau (EB): I’m Erin Barbeau (ze/zir), your local friendly nonbinary entomologist, SFF writer & reviewer. I mostly write science fiction revolving around (often gross) biology, transness, and queer trauma.

I run a review blog, Insectoid Reviews, where I focus on queer science fiction & fantasy but also write about science fiction history, community, and science in speculative fiction. Outside of SFF, I am also published in the academia realm. My lightsaber probably would be green because green is my favorite color. 

Erin Barbeau author photo

J S Fields author photo

J S Fields (JS): I write under the name J.S. Fields, and my pronouns are they/them/theirs. I’m nonbinary but also intersex, which adds a fun little layer to everything. I’m in my late thirties, have two partners and a kid. I write science fiction (most notably the Ardulum series) and science nonfiction (mostly about wood and fungus). I’m agented, and work full time on top of that as a professor and sculptor.

My lightsaber would also be purple-but like a bright, shocking purple

E S Argentum (ESA): I’m E.S. Argentum (they/them or he/him), an enby/trans masc-leaning nerd. I’m just starting on my self-publishing path, but I have a few short scifi romance stories and four books in a co-written series available as of this writing. I’ve taught workshops at local writing conferences about writing queer characters, and I honestly can’t remember the last time I had a cishet protagonist. As far as lightsaber color goes, I’m going to go with turquoise because no one said it had to be a canon color. 

E S Argentum author photo

Matt Doyle author photo

Matt Doyle (MD): I’m Matt Doyle, and I’m genderfluid. When it comes to pronouns, I’m happy for people to take me as they find me. If you think I’m more masculine, he/him is fine, she/her if I’m more femme that day. Or, they/them if it’s easier. Honestly, as long as you aren’t trying to cause upset, I’m fine with anything. I write hybrid genre fiction with a sci-fi grounding and diverse casts, and my lightsaber would be green because… well… I’m from an Irish family.

Judith Vogt (JV): Hey there, I’m Judith Vogt, I’m a science fiction and fantasy writer and RPG designer from Germany. My pronouns are she/her in German, but I’m trying out they/them when I have the opportunity to be at an English-language event. My lightsaber is a bright yellowish green. 

Judith Vogt author photo

Alex White author photo

Alex White (AW): I’m Alex White (they/them), and I’d definitely want a nice sea-foam lightsaber… or maybe one that changes color a little, depending on the angle. I’m nonbinary, genderfluid, and I write space operas for Orbit Books, as well as licensed novels for Alien and Star Trek.

Anna Everts (AE): I’m Anna Everts, an autistic and non-binary writer from the Netherlands. My pronouns are they/them, or die/diens in Dutch. I’m mostly writing comics and short stories in the sci-fi, fantasy, superhero and detective/mystery genres. I’ve been writing stories ever since I was little, but decided around four years ago that I’d like to make a career out of it. I’ve already published one short comic and more comics are in the making, so that’s exciting! My lightsaber would change colours like a mood ring.

Anna Everts author photo

Kiya Nicoll author photo

Kiya Nicoll (KN):  I’m Kiya Nicoll, and I guess I’ll try to self-describe as some nebulous flavor of vaguely transmasculine nonbinary.  Now accepting all major pronouns, they/them is a solid default if you actually need a concrete and specific answer, and I am exceedingly fond of the Victorian-era neopronoun “thon”, which is a contraction for “that one”.  My lightsaber would almost certainly be blue even though Guardian is not my preferred class in KOTOR, because it is the local custom that All The Blue Things Are Kiya’s.  I write broadly within the speculative fiction umbrella, and it often smacks of gender, neurodivergence, or stealth theology.

Dominik Dyer (DD): Hi! I’m Dominik Myles Dyer, a disabled, non-binary writer from the UK, and my pronouns are he/him. I write fiction podcasts (still in production, currently!) and short stories, primarily, and love mixing genres together. My favourite genre to work in is horror, but I also love to expand and challenge myself. I write my experiences into my work a lot, which means there’s a lot of exploration of gender, sexuality, and disability (including neurodivergence, as I’m ADHD & autistic) in the things I create. I think it’d be cool to have a hot pink lightsaber, although I must admit that I’ve only ever seen A New Hope, so my Star Wars knowledge is severely limited.

Dominik Myles Dyer author photo

K B Wagers author photo

K B Wagers (KW): Hi all, I’m K.B. Wagers (they/them) non-binary science fiction author of the Hail Bristol novels and the NeoG Adventures. I live in Colorado with my partner and a houseful of cats and plants. I have a number of swords, but oddly enough not a lightsaber (I should rectify that) which if I were going to get one I think I would go with a darker green.  

J Patrick Jones (JJ): I’m Jojo, I publish under a variant of my full name which is J. Patrick Jones, I use they/them pronouns, and I’d have a yellow lightsaber in a zweihander style.

J Patrick Jones author photo

What are some of the inspirations behind your work in sci-fi and how is your writing influenced by them?

K B Wagers author photo

KW: I grew up pretty heavily influenced by science fiction, most notably Doctor Who and Red Dwarf which is what happens when you only watch PBS as a kid. In that same vein Sesame Street had a huge influence on me as did the Muppets and while it’s probably not technically science fiction I think it does fall nicely into the speculative space. I didn’t read a lot of science fiction as a kid, with the exception of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – a book that remains one of my favorites and probably set the tone for my own wacky sense of humor. Star Wars also had an undeniable impact on my writing.

DD: A lot of my childhood was spent hyperfixating on Jurassic Park and Doctor Who, so I’d say that those series have a fair amount of influence over how I interact with and write about sci-fi. One of the first times I saw an LGBT character on screen that wasn’t the butt of the joke was Captain Jack Harkness, and I distinctly remember how overjoyed I felt when I saw him kiss both Rose and the Doctor in the Season One finale, which I think definitely impacted me, even back then, because it felt like sci-fi was a genre where I was welcome to explore ideas of identity and who I was and wanted to be as a person. As I grew older, I became more heavily influenced by franchises like Alien, The Matrix, and Blade Runner, and the idea of exploring humanity and what it means to be a human being in this world became more and more attractive to me.

Space and space exploration have also always had a special place in my heart, so I love mixing cosmic horror in a sci-fi world to mull over big questions that don’t quite have answers.

Dominik Myles Dyer author photo

Kiya Nicoll author photo

KN: For dealing with gender in fiction in specific I absolutely have to shout out Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness, and not just because it is a heavy influence on a poem I have coming out next year in her memorial poetry anthology. There’s a lot of Le Guin deep in me, in weird and subtle ways, and the Gethenian culture of gender-fluidity fascinated me long before I had any sort of handle on my own identity. I’d also like to mention a sort of weird sideways one – Lisane Norman’s Sholan Alliance books, which I loved in part when I was younger because the female Sholans only developed mammary tissue when necessary for breastfeeding, like the panthers they’re modeled on, and then that nonsense goes away when it’s no longer functional. Long before I figured out I was nonbinary I rather envied them.

I feel like the most overt influence on me is probably C. J. Cherryh, though, because she, like I, often writes about protagonists who are in some way isolated and alienated. That sense of rupture is one that I feel keenly, myself, and thus it’s a perpetual story engine, whether it’s a literal alien in the company of another species or someone displaced and looking for a home.  Cherryh also does a lot of things with identity – the entire development of the azi in the Union/Alliance series is absolutely about the nature of what a person is, without even getting into the psychogenesis plot of Cyteen.  The Cherryh I keep going back to is actually Forty Thousand in Gehenna, which I have never seen on anyone else’s favorites list, because of the exploration of an entire culture who see the world aslant of everyone else, because of their symbiotic cultural development with the alien.

EB: The biggest influences on my work are Ann Leckie’s Imperial Radch trilogy, Star Trek particularly Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (DS9), Diane Daune’s Young Wizards series, and my background in biology. DS9 and Young Wizards really shaped my sensibilities when I was a kid towards SFF that was character driven, not afraid to tackle trauma and social issues, and unabashedly compassionate and emotional. DS9 was one of my first brushes with queerness in fiction, but Imperial Radch was the first SFF I had found a narrative with people like me. This series gave me the confidence to return to writing and experiment with queer narratives. Since I was little, I have been immersed in the natural world and a lot of my work is a love letter to the organisms I’ve touched, the ecosystems I’ve explored, and the science that has become a deep part of my identity. Also I just want to write about worms sometimes, you know?

Erin Barbeau author photo

Imperial Radch was the first SFF I had found a narrative with people like me. This series gave me the confidence to return to writing and experiment with queer narratives.

J S Fields author photo

JS: I was influenced heavily by 90s era sci fi on Fox, like M.A.N.T.I.S., VR-5, Time Trax, etc. Hence I like camp, and tropes, and how those can blend together to make science fiction yes, sciencey, but also comfortable across a wide variety of readership. I always hoped it would be a bit gayer, to be honest (hello Xena, but with on page stuff, not just implied) so I always wanted to write sort of dime-store, 8:00pm comfort sci fi but with queer people.

ESA: I’m going to echo Erin here–Star Trek is a huge influence for my scifi. I grew up on Next Generation and Voyager, so that sort of utopian society that gives rise to exploration and attempts to gain knowledge of different people/groups is something I love. Farscape and Dune have definitely affected how I see worldbuilding and cultural development in my stories. I don’t know if we’re counting steampunk under the scifi umbrella or not, but Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series has been a big influence lately, too, as I turn my focus more toward romance-heavy plots and humor.  

E S Argentum author photo

Blogger’s pop-up: I love Gail Carriger! 😀 And we are definitely counting steampunk as scifi.

Alex White author photo

AW: I’ve always been a cinema fanatic, so I often look to directors when I need inspiration. I love the dark futures of Ridley Scott, the clinical eye of David Fincher, the dazzling color palettes of the Wachowskis and on and on. Video games and anime were critical influences on me in high school, and served as a gateway into the broader world of science fiction. A lot of my inspirations come from outside science fiction, such as historical events or music, so it’s really hard to pin down. I sample from everything.

AE: Growing up I wasn’t really into sci-fi as much because I wasn’t exposed to it. I definitely feel like living in a country that’s not the US or the UK causes you to miss out on some of the classics.

The earliest sci-fi movie I can remember watching was the first X-Men movie. That sparked my love for superheroes and things that are not set in this reality. I was around 10 years old when I watched this. After that I stayed in the superhero genre, specifically Marvel movies. Another movie franchise that stuck with me is Transformers. I was also around 10 when I discovered that. Later, around the age of 14, I also started watching TV shows like Doctor Who, Sanctuary, and many other series that only fueled my love for sci-fi. Maybe it was escapism at the time, but I just loved everything that wasn’t set in this world. I still do.

And I think my work is influenced by that feeling of “anything is possible”.

I like writing things that bend reality. I also really like writing superhero stories, but with some sort of twist. I like to toy with the idea of what makes you good or evil.

Anna Everts author photo

Joseph Tomaras author photo

JT: Franz Kafka was a genius, and I am not interested in gatekeeping debates about whether his writings are science-fictional or not, and if so, which are and which aren’t. Julio Cortázar’s writing dances between and among genres. It’s writing as a dialogue between texts, a description that applies even more so to Jorge Luis Borges. Stanislaw Lem helped me get over a snobbish attitude toward science fiction, balancing between a rigorous understanding of how scientists go about investigating the universe with anarchic humor at their, and everyone’s, expense. Though in terms of how I go about writing, I would like to think–I hope–that I am more in the vein of Ursula K. LeGuin, in terms of politics and thematics. When I need help thinking about how I go about writing, though, I refer, and defer, always to Samuel R. Delany.

So to sum up: I wanted to write like Kafka, Cortázar, and Borges, without being derivative of them. Lem showed by example that science fiction might be the genre in which that would be possible. LeGuin is the writer whom I most consciously emulate in that effort, and Delany is who I turn to when I need to take a critical, reflective stance on my own writing.

JV: I was mostly into Star Wars and cyberpunk for a really long time. So, I didn’t particularly like stuff in space that was not Star Wars, and I was really into cyberpunk-Earth, like in “Shadowrun”, “Neuromancer”, “Blade Runner”, “Ghost in the Shell” and so on. Thoughts about the self and how it manifests and in which ways it can be artificial or merged with other selves are tropes that I still think a lot about, not only in SF but also in fantasy and steampunk.

What is “artificial”, what is “human”? How do we define ourselves, stuff like that.

And apart from that I really like the simplicity of a space opera like Star Wars, with its grand scopes and an overdose of mythical powers. 

In the last couple of years, I’m working as a SFF journalist and I’ve been diving deeper into old and new feminist science fiction, so, finally, my understanding of science fiction and its importance for envisioning utopias and post-binary and post-patriarchal societies has deepened a lot.

Judith Vogt author photo

Matt Doyle author photo

MD: Crikey, that’s a tough one. I grew up with a steady stream of sci-fi on TV and VHS. I always loved the message of hope in Star Trek: TNG, and that influenced me to look at sci-fi as a way to explore what could be. Farscape too was a big thing for me, as it made me more inclined to value characters that felt real. And, of course the bleakness of Alien. We all love a little darkness, right? The thing is, this mostly just shaped what I like. What I wanted was to see more people like me in those settings though. That’s why I write so many LGBTQ characters. I was never really into coming out stories either, I wanted more stories where I could see that future, and what could be. That’s why you’ll find my characters are always out already and living their lives.

JJ: Most of my inspiration comes from video games, which feels a little embarrassing to say.

The Halo video game franchise was really my gateway into science-fiction, more so than any of the ‘classic’ sci-fi gateways (Star Wars/Trek, Dune etc). From the moment I started playing it on my very first Xbox, back when my age was still in single figures, I was hooked. Some elements of the Halo universe have influenced my work –

space-faring civilisation by fairly mundane means, questionable government, and a galaxy littered with relics of a now-extinct civilisation. 

Another big influence was Borderlands, another game, which brought in themes of humanity spread across the frontiers of the galaxy, eking out a life in the dust of far-off planets, while corrupt corporations threw their power around. 

One of my few non-video-game influences was the TV series Firefly, which gave me a wonderful insight into sci-fi that was far removed from the high-stakes, galaxy-spanning plots of franchises like Halo and Star Wars – it felt like a slice of life, semi-dramatic comedy, which just happened to take place on spaceships and on alien planets, and followed a small crew of ordinary people rather than some doom-driven hero destined to save the universe. I adore Firefly’s presentation of spaceships and futuristic technology as humdrum and everyday, and it’s something I try to emulate in my writing.

In a more meta sense, my single biggest writing inspiration is Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series. I love the concept of a lot of individual books and small series in a shared universe, with frequent overlaps but their own stories to tell. The Discworld series evolved in a wonderful way as its timeline progressed, and that’s something I want to emulate in the Starlight Series.

J Patrick Jones author photo

Joseph Tomaras author photo

JT: Just chiming in to add that one of the weirdos I follow on Twitter jokingly coined the word “genrefluid,” and I unjokingly decided that it was the best word ever to describe my writing. So that’s what it is: genrefluid.

KW: Okay, I love this a whole lot and am stealing it. 😀

K B Wagers author photo

Matt Doyle author photo

MD: Ha! I like that. I normally go with ‘hybrid-genre’, by ‘genrefluid’ sounds much more fun!

DD:  I do love that term a lot! I’m definitely going to be stealing that.

Dominik Myles Dyer author photo

Ah, I love that! Do you mean perhaps Angry Robot? Nevertheless, I am obligated to disclose that the Galaxy is not responsible for any theft or rioting that might arise from awesome, out-of-the-box concepts, no matter how cool :p Speaking of genre, what is it about science-fiction that calls to you?

JJ: I’ve never really asked myself this question before, but I think the best way I can describe the appeal is that it feels… possible. I enjoy fantasy as well, but there’s a key difference for me – fantasy is something that’s fun to read but couldn’t happen in the real world. No future human is going to set foot in Rivendell, or climb the Seven Thousand Steps to High Hrothgar, but a future human will set foot on Mars, or climb the slopes of Mount Olympus. Science-fiction is a chance for me to envision a better future for the world I live in.

J Patrick Jones author photo

Blogger’s pop-up: Oh, I absolutely love the way you put it. Spot-on.

Alex White author photo

AW: It represents possibilities that simply don’t exist within reality. It’s both a form of wish-fulfillment and a reflection. Like a song, it starts with the things we know, filters us through a variety of modes, and returns us breathless to ourselves. For me, personally, science fiction provided the first easy lens to glimpse non-binary characters.

Hailing from rural Alabama in the 80s and 90s, there wasn’t a ton of representation, and the culture was profoundly heteronormative. Periodic doses of Aeon Flux, Deep Space Nine and other shows featuring gender diverse characters helped me better identify queer needs inside myself. Show a high-school kid Ranma ½, and don’t be surprised when they begin to question the meaning of gender.

AE:  In the beginning it was definitely escapism. When I was younger I really struggled with the fact that I’m autistic. I didn’t really have any friends, apart from my best friend who lived 30km away from me. So watching or reading things that made me forget about reality for a moment felt nice.

But now that I’m older, accepting myself and now that I have plenty of good friends, sci-fi feels more like home. It’s no longer another world I escape to, but instead a place I can come home to. It calls to me because it’s creative and inspiring. It gives me so many ideas that I can work with.

If you write stories that are set in the real world, you’ll always get restricted by the question “is this possible?”. Whereas in sci-fi that question becomes “What can I invent to make this possible?”. Because in sci-fi you have the space to be super creative and write your own inventions. And that’s what I like to do; I like creating new things. 

Anna Everts author photo

Joseph Tomaras author photo

JT: I am not certain it’s calling to me right now. Or if it is, maybe I have been missing the calls. Much of what I have written–and a higher proportion of those items that have been published–has been near-future. At a certain point, though, in or around 2016, world events got too strange for me to feel confident in my predictions. I do not intend my stories as predictions–they would be failures if I did. But I need confidence in order to be able to creatively build worlds.

Only one of the stories I have written since then was science fiction, and it has since been overtaken (and surpassed in absurdity) by events, so it needs to be thoroughly rewritten. I have had ideas for science fictional stories, but none yet have been insistent enough in their calls for me to sit down and write. “Sokal” is a story that I mostly wrote in 2013; it’s taken that long for it to find the right home for publication.

The novel I am writing straddles the genres of crime and romance, and it has several trans and nonbinary characters. It has one element that could be read as speculative, though more in the vein of fantasy than science fiction. And even that element is ambiguous enough to have a naturalistic explanation.

What I like in all fiction, of all genres, is ambiguity. For the moment, I am most interested in exploring the ambiguities of the recent past, the temporal horizon we usually think of as the “present.”

Science fiction can be a means of doing that, and it has been for me in the past, and it might be again. Who knows?

EB: Science fiction for me has always been a means of escape. It was something that let me forget the present and look towards the future where things would be better, less dysfunctional. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always felt somewhat like an alien. SFF was a place where my otherness — my mental illness, my neurodivergence, my general weirdness, my queerness — was the norm because there were other aliens. Otherness was accepted and even cherished and loved.

Erin Barbeau author photo

Kiya Nicoll author photo

KN: I don’t think it calls to me, so much as “this is where I grew up, why would I leave”?  I was in my teens somewhere before I realized there was something other than speculative fiction (and romance, which I knew existed from supermarket checkout lines) in the world of books; I grew up watching Doctor Who and Star Trek with my Dad.  For me, the nature of story is the experience of strange people in unfamiliar places, and I read and watch everything through that lens. I wouldn’t begin to know how to write anything else.

JV: Apart from the afore-mentioned escape I think that only speculative genres like fantasy and science fiction empower us to shape new ideas of societies.

In crime, contemporary, history novels, you are bound to our present or past. Of course, every writer can carve out spaces that might feel utopian, that might challenge the status quo and give room for possibilities. But SFF can create whole new worlds – and can combine this with escapism. But science fiction has long missed a lot of opportunities, as it was shaped by white cis men who didn’t need the break from reality that marginalized people need. Thus, few SF escape routes do allow us to escape from sexism, hetero- and cis-normativity, ableism and racism.

I think what calls to me the most is that SF has so much more to tell and often fell short in telling it. We have so much more to create!

Judith Vogt author photo

K B Wagers author photo

KW: It’s just always been a part of my life. I grew up on a farm out in the middle of Easter Colorado where on a clear night you can see galaxies spread across the sky. We used to lay out for hours just staring up at them, or looking through my father’s telescope. I love space and have always been fascinated with the idea of what else is out there – other life, other worlds. I also have been a writer practically all my life and while for a good chunk of time though I wanted to write fantasy, I eventually cycled back to the space thing. I love envisioning the future as something better. Plus spaceships!

ESA: I love the possibility within SFF. In universes that can be entirely developed from the imagination, there’s nothing that won’t work if you get creative enough. It’s a place where anyone can find themself in characters and worlds, and nothing’s off-limits. I feel like SFF is also a great place to plant those subliminal messages of acceptance and compassion for marginalized folks. If we can get people to feel compassion and root for non-human characters, we as authors can also encourage those feelings for our fellow human beings. 

E S Argentum author photo

Matt Doyle author photo

MD: I think it is just that hope for the future, whether near or far. Most of my writing is near future, and I like to research current tech and where it’s heading, then try to figure out what it would be like in however many years. Sci-fi gives me a glimpse at what’s to come, and what could come. I like looking forward like that.

DD: I think I agree with it feeling like hope for the future! I love exploring what could be in fiction, even if I end up being way off. Even if I explore it through a dystopian lens, it’s nice to give an exploration of our reality that can have a bit of a hopeful note to it.

Science fiction has always felt like freedom to me. There’s so many arbitrary rules and considerations to take when writing a very grounded, real story, and although I think there are bonuses to writing that way (including for someone like me, who enjoys writing explorations of my own experiences through fiction), there are limits to what it can do.

Exploring topics through the lens of something just a few steps to the left of reality makes it feel, somehow, more honest. There isn’t room in the world we live in for the things in my head, you know? They’re thoughts and feelings that are almost impossible to put to words, but if you can humanise them, make them manifest, then they become more tangible to even those that have no idea what you’re talking about. It feels like I’m letting out a deep breath and can just exist.

I feel like the genre also has so much room to explore things we present as possibilities, but where we ask the question “what if that was real?” We don’t know for sure if there’s something out there watching over us, but you can create that, and you can think about what it would be like to know and have that comfort, or if it would even be a comfort at all. 

Dominik Myles Dyer author photo

J S Fields author photo

JS: I’m a professor in the sciences so for me, science fiction means I get to see the science I work with stretched in ways I couldn’t do in the lab (without substantial grant funding, anyway). I like to have that sort of sandbox, where science can be toyed, flipped, and shone in new and interesting ways. And I like how SF has always been a vehicle for the political. There are a lot of stories you can tell with alien allegory you just can’t do (or get through to people) in a contemporary story.

Blogger’s pop-up
And to you, reader, where did your love for sci-fi originate? Where do your inspirations to read and/or write sci-fi come from? What works do you hold dear in nostalgia and wonder?

Read more about Joseph, Erin, Alex, E S Argentum, Matt, Judith, Kiya, Anna, K B Wagers, J Patrick, J S Fields, and Dominik in the next part of this interview, where you will find out: What does being non-binary mean to the writers? In what ways can gender play into their work and science fiction as a whole?

TAKE ME TO PART 2: Gender and genre!

6 thoughts on “Read the Room – Non-Binary Writers on The Future of Science-Fiction. Part 1: Inspiration and Creation”

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