I’ve had several readers ask me: How can I ever complete my Lesbian Book Bingo card when I don’t like speculative fiction?
Speculative fiction is an umbrella term that includes fantasy, science fiction, and paranormal fiction. If you, too, struggle to fill your Lesbian Book Bingo squares for these genres, here are a few tips for you:
1. Keep an open mind
First off, I think being “forced” to read something that is a little out of your usual comfort zone can be a good thing. Keep an open mind—you might just find that you don’t really dislike that genre after all or maybe at the very least find a couple of books in the genre that you do enjoy. You should be able to find bits and pieces that you can relate to in at least one book in every category, even if you find that you still don’t like the genre very much.
2. Take a look at your favorite lesbian fiction authors in your preferred genres
Many lesbian fiction authors write across several genres. Maybe the author of your favorite lesbian romance novel has also penned a fantasy novel, and you might like it because you enjoy that author’s style. For example, EJ Noyes, who usually writes contemporary romances, has also written a paranormal romance titled Reaping the Benefits, and Karin Kallmaker has written a retelling of The Little Mermaid, titled A Fish out of Water.
3. Try one of the highly recommended books in these genres
Ask around for recommendations in Goodreads or Facebook groups, or check out The Lesbian Review’s top 10 lists for lesbian science fiction and supernatural lesbian books. In particular, look for recommendations from other readers who don’t usually read those genres either. Two books that I often see recommended are Daughter of Mystery by Heather Rose Jones (fantasy) and Without a Front by Fletcher DeLancey (science fiction).
4. Download excerpts of several books that other readers recommended
Find one that makes you want to read on at the end of the excerpt. It doesn’t always have to be the genre that grabs you; it can be an engaging writing style or an interesting character too.
5. Take a look at the subgenres of lesbian fantasy and science fiction
Realize that speculative fiction is a very broad category, and even within the different genres, there’s a lot of variety. Science fiction isn’t all about aliens and spaceships, and fantasy isn’t all about elves and magic. Dystopian fiction, for example, is grouped under sci-fi, but they often read more like adventure stories, so even people who don’t like science fiction might enjoy books such as Survival Instincts by May Dawney.
6. Search out books that are light on speculative aspects
If you dislike speculative fiction because you prefer books that are set in “the real world,” look for novels that keep the fantastical elements at a minimum. For example, my novel Heart Trouble is a contemporary romance/medical romance set in our normal world, but with a bit of a paranormal twist.
7. Pick a book that blends science fiction, fantasy, or paranormal fiction with a genre that you like
For example, if you love lesbian romance novels but don’t usually like science fiction, look for a sci-fi romance such as The Lily and the Crown by Roslyn Sinclair.
8. Try a speculative fiction audiobook
If you love audiobooks, look for a speculative fiction book narrated by one of your favorite narrators. I’ve heard good things about the audiobook version of Meghan O’Brien’s paranormal romance Wild, for example.
9. Look for books that have tropes you like
For example, Chasing Stars by Alex K. Thorne is a superheroine novel, but it also fits the celebrity romance trope and the fake relationship trope.
10. Go for shorter works
If all else fails, pick a speculative fiction novella or a short novel instead of a 500-page tome. My paranormal romance Manhattan Moon, for example, is a 29,000-word novella.
I hope these tips will help you find a lesbian fantasy, science fiction, or paranormal book you will enjoy!
Have any of you struggled with some of the squares on the Lesbian Book Bingo card because you don’t usually like that genre? How did you handle those squares? Did you find that after forcing yourself to read a book for those squares, you don’t dislike that genre after all?