The fact that I’m not constantly bombarded by enthusiastic recommendations for this book, when it has so much in common with my novels in celebrating the strong bonds of queer families in a SFF setting, just proves the truth of what I’ve been saying lately about the fragmentation of the indie publishing world – even within queer SFF! Because damn, Fierce Family is gorgeous. This book is a TREAT. If you like my books specifically because of the “queer family fluff” aspect, you should go and pick up this book before even finishing this review. I don’t think I’ve ever typed that before.
There are fifteen stories, providing a wide variety of moods, settings, and even genres–some are hard sci-fi, some mild real-world paranormal, some even portal fantasy. There are ice dragons on a winter planet, dystopian struggles in a world fucked up by global warming, and a man who can see the future so he already knows who his future husband is when he meets him–and then fails to make a good impression. There’s a South Asian diaspora woman on a space colony breaking military rules to save her son’s husband from giant bug aliens.
The title is a quote from “The Collared Signal”, about people who live on a spaceship with a farm inside getting attacked by space pirates–except that both ships–the farmers and the pirates–are big poly families with same-sex relationships and kids and everything. That’s right: a polynormative, bi-normative space pirate story with literally zero indication that their families are unusual for having extra branches and fruit.
One of my other favorites was “The Home Study”, where a lesbian couple wants to adopt a baby to add to the children they already have – one borne, one taken in when she needed them – and don’t realize the adoption agency they applied to is the fairyland one, which requires exactly the kind of quest you’d expect. (This book has plenty of f/f, so it’s definitely not the kind of place where cis m/m takes over like in some others. Also, there is no on-screen sex in the book.)
This is the kind of book where same-sex couples and nonbinary characters get to be themselves in families that also include loving parents, or children, or extra members of the romantic unit, so it’s not just a celebration of queer romance but also queer platonicism and found family and people’s interactions with their same-sex parents and EEEE, I JUST.