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Beyond: Queer Anthology Series

Beyond: the Queer Sci-Fi & Fantasy Comic Anthology

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Beyond is an anthology of queer sci-fi and fantasy comics. Featuring 18 stories by 26 contributors, Beyond is a 250+ page, black and white, queer comic anthology, full of swashbuckling space pirates, dragon slayers, death-defying astronauts, and monster royalty. Each story celebrates and showcases unquestionably queer characters as they explore the galaxy, mix magic, have renegade adventures, and save the day!

The Beyond Anthology was born from a desire to see stories inspired by people like us (queer people with diverse genders and sexualities) slaying dragons, piloting spaceships, getting into trouble, and saving the day—without having to read for their queerness from between the lines. We wanted to see beautiful, heartwarming, and adventurous stories that reflect and celebrate the many facets of gender and sexuality, without having to worry that their queerness would cast them as a villain, a pariah, or turn them into a cautionary tale.

Beyond is edited by Sfé R. Monster, assistant edited by Taneka Stotts, and features a group of 26 contributors who have created 18 exceptional all-ages stories that showcase and celebrate openly and unabashedly queer characters in science fiction and fantasy-based settings.

Cover by Levi Hastings, interior of covers by Evan Dahm.

274 pages, Hardcover

First published September 7, 2015

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Sfé R. Monster

41 books33 followers

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 102 reviews
Profile Image for Jessica.
584 reviews23 followers
March 19, 2023
I backed Beyond on Kickstarter because I loved the idea of increasing visibility and representation of queer individuals and relationships in comics, and I knew I'd be introduced to a lot of new artists through the book.

The quality of the illustrations is high, and the cover is really gorgeous. I'm glad I backed this for the physical object and not just the digital version, because the book looks fantastic.

Unfortunately, the stories are mostly not very strong. A lot of them drop you into the middle of the narrative without giving enough background to understand what's happening. Not all of them seem to have much plot or a significant story arc/conflict to latch onto. I'm not sure if the problem is the length allowed for each story, which for the most part is about 10-20 pages - long enough for some world-building, but not quite long enough to tell a complex story. In some cases, dropping the reader right into the middle of things worked out well, but in most of the stories I was left feeling like I didn't entirely understand what I had just read.

The big standout for me in this collection was "Duty and Honor" by Shing Yin Khor, a love story about two female astronauts training for and traveling on two different missions to Mars.

Other highlights were "O-Type Hypergiant" by Jon Cairns, about artificial male humanoids who live in space and monitor stars, and "Optimal" by Blue Delliquanti, about a robot who was designed as a copy of its creator's male research partner, but who wants to have a female body.

What I appreciated most about this book was that the fact of characters being queer existed in the background and was taken for granted. These are sci-fi and fantasy stories that just happen to have queer characters in the leading roles. It's important for books like this to exist, even if this particular collection was pretty hit-and-miss for me.
Profile Image for Naz (Read Diverse Books).
120 reviews260 followers
September 4, 2016
For the full review, visit my blog: Read Diverse Books

This anthology is one of the most important works of Queer literature I have read in a while. Granted, I haven’t read the vast majority of Queer literature, but Beyond is personal and special. This is the kind of book I wish I had read when I was a teenager, or even younger, because it would have shown me perspectives and ways to live a life authentically that I considered unimaginable.

Many of the stories in this anthology are sad and serious because the Queer people do sometimes experience grief and tragedy. But the majority of the stories are exciting adventures that will elicit a variety of emotions as you read. This collection is fantastic not only because of the content of the stories themselves is great, but also because there is an impressive variety in the way Queer people can experience life and adventure.

Some stories are more memorable than others, as is the always the case in anthologies, but they are all worth your time because they each carry an important message. Choosing to read these stories also makes an important statement — that the narratives of Queer people matter, that Queer creators and editors matter and that people need and want more content like this.
Profile Image for CaseyTheCanadianLesbrarian.
1,134 reviews1,396 followers
July 30, 2016
I was super pumped about this book, which unfortunately let me down somewhat. The cover is fucking gorgeous, though; that didn't disappoint me. I guess that's the thing with all anthologies--it's hard for them not to be hit or miss. There are a few Canadian authors in here (one with Indigenous / two-spirit content, although the authors' bios don't identify themselves as Indigenous so I don't know if it's #ownvoices or not) but none of the Cdns were my favourites. There is substantial POC content in here, so that is pretty awesome! Ones I loved were:

- The Next Day by Stiffler and Copeland: dystopian world in perpetual night, two guys fall in love

- They Simply Pass by Kristina Stipetic: women robot society with an unusual same-sex reproductive system and one robot who is rebelling against her role--probably my absolute favourite in the collection

- The Valley of the Silk Sky by Dylan Edwards: totally cool world building that was futuristic but fantasy at the same time, gender neutral beings, scary monsters, and funny inter-species dialogue

- The Monster Queen by Horrocks and Martins: I lie, one of these creators is Cdn. A princess falls in love with the monster. No words! It's awesome.

I guess my problem with the rest of them, is that aside from amazing drawings (with the exception of a couple whose visuals I didn't like) a lot of the other stories weren't really... stories. They didn't have much of a narrative or it dropped you right in the middle of one and you had no idea what was going on. Underdevelopment is the worst, because sometime you can even see the potential! A few stories I literally had to re-read right after I finished it because I was like, WTF just happened? Did anything happen? I know SF/F can be hard to create in a short space because you don't have a lot of room for world-building, but you have illustrations people! And some of the stories did succeed in telling a great narrative in the pages allotted, so it's clearly possible.

Some of these I felt might have made sense if I was familiar with the creators' web comics or other publications. Blue Dellaquanti's piece, for example, refers to her O Human Star series which I fucking loved. But I read the excerpt in here before the first print volume and was kinda lukewarm because the story had no arc and no context. Now I see that it's a backstory to a main character and totally like it more. Editors: you can't assume the readers will have read the creators' other work; it should stand on its own!

I was gonna review this for my blog but decided not to as there's not enough Cdn content that I want to talk about.
Profile Image for Shira Glassman.
Author 27 books507 followers
January 5, 2017
This wasn't really a good fit for me since a lot of the storylines ended tragically (Note: not tragic because of homo/bi/transphobia tho) even if they were really good and some of the other ones were too "hard sci-fi" or otherwise worldbuilding-confusing for me to really plug into them. I guess I had expected it to be more like Dates! An Anthology of Queer Historical Fiction, which had a hard rule about no tragic tropes, which was my mistake.

That being said, I did really appreciate the wonderful art of many of the pieces, and the fact that it wasn't disproportionately focused on young cis m/m (which is often a danger when the whole LGBT umbrella gets to play together in a publication.)

I want to give "exceptional quality" nods to "Luminosity" (tragically beautiful spacefaring f/f) and "Duty and Honor" (tragically beautiful spacefaring poly V f/f/m) for being well constructed and pretty, even if they featured the deaths of sapphic women which like many of us I am kinda Done With. (At least they didn't die Because Sapphic, but Because Science, but still.) If you are someone who doesn't mind sad sci-fi when it has good f/f representation, definitely check these out.

"The Dragon-Slayer's Son" wasn't tragic and had a decent moral that I can get behind (are you "a man" when you kill a dragon or when you decide not to?) and a trans lead so I'm giving a thumbs-up to that one also. And I liked "Optimal", in which an android designed as an homage to the inventor's dead research partner decides she'd rather have a female form instead of the male form he initially put her consciousness in. "Of Families" is a farce about two dads whose adopted daughter gets temporarily replaced by a changeling. "Eat At Chelle's" has a f/f couple that includes a trans chef (!!!) bargaining with monsters to get meat for their kitchen. If the whole volume had been like these, I might be more enthusiastic about the whole collection.

"A Royal Affair" explored a neat idea about what if a nonbinary monarch had to choose between being a king and a queen in order to rule and didn't want to choose? So that gets an honorable mention. And "They Simply Pass" also gets an honorable mention for alien reproductive worldbuilding. Both these stories explored ideas about sex and gender that I thought were kinda cool.

I feel like I would have really liked "The Monster Queen" if I'd been able to figure out what was going on.

So, yeah, it's worth checking out, but the sheer number of Sad Stories (or stuff I just didn't understand) in here makes it hard for me to want to pass it out like candy. No offense if this applies to your piece; I'm just one person and I'm also Going Through Things Right Now. Remember: it's okay to write about sad things. It's also okay for me to choose something else :P
Profile Image for Lindsay.
1,124 reviews
November 19, 2016
I love the concept. I love that by buying a copy this past week, my money went to Trans Lifeline. I want LGBTQ+ characters and issues to have more and better representation in comics. I think this comic is a fantastic step in that direction.

But I did not love it. I found the quality of the stories themselves extremely hit-or-miss. There were a few gems, but there were enough that I just felt like I was scrolling through. I am also looking cautiously at the quasi-Native comic "Twin Souled" that seems like it's got a bit of appropriation going on. My faves were "The Monster Queen" and "The Dragon Slayer's Son."
Profile Image for Stewart Tame.
2,304 reviews90 followers
June 27, 2019
Reviewing anthologies is always tough. The quality varies from story to story, to the point where rating the book as a whole seems hopeless. “Well this one story was amazing, easily worth the price of the entire book. Too bad the rest of them were so awful.” Trying to review each story separately tends to make the review way too long, but only mentioning a few tends to make it look as though you didn't like any of the others.

So, for the record: I quite liked all of these stories. I’m going to mention a few specifically, but please don't take that as an implication that the ones I don't are substandard. All of these are worth your time. Some, for one reason or another, sparked comment, but that's just how my head is wired. Different stories may resonate more strongly for you.

I definitely like the overall theme. I’ve been a fan of SF and Fantasy for as long as I’ve been reading. As for the “Queer” theme, all that means is that there's more variation among the protagonists than in your typical anthology. Honestly, the gender and/or sexual preference--or lack thereof--of the characters doesn't even matter in some of these stories. Are Chelle and Surna from “Eat At Chelle’s” in a relationship or just coworkers? It's not clear from the story--we know that Surna has an ex girlfriend; that’s it--but it's not really the point either.

“Of Families & Other Magical Objects” by Reed Black makes me smile. The stylized art, fantasy theme, and general coziness make me feel all warm and fuzzy. Yes, the ending is visible for miles before you get there, but you’ll still enjoy the trip.

“A Royal Affair” by Taneka Stotts and Christianne Goudreau seems like the first chapter of a graphic novel or series. Either way, I’d love to see more.

“Versus” by Wm Brian MacLean is impressive, juuuuust this side of pure abstraction. This is one where the concept of gender isn't really relevant.

“O-Type Hypergiant” by Jon Cairns is some impressively hardcore (no, not in that sense of the word, you pervert) science fiction. Mind. Blown.

“Twin Souled” by Bevan Thomas and Kate Ebensteiner is lots of fun. Let's face it: there isn't nearly enough SF and Fantasy that draws from native American traditions.

“Barricade” by Alison Wilgus and Anissa Espinosa is a cracking SF adventure tale, along the lines of The Martian, or Harlan Ellison's classic short story, “Life Hutch.”

As I said earlier, definitely a book worth reading. Recommended!
Profile Image for Jaylee.
Author 16 books79 followers
July 3, 2016
Most of the pieces in this book fall pretty flat as far as stories go. There are some gems, but overall the narratives just don't work - it's confusing to decypher what's going on, there's far too much technical lingo, etc. The art ranges from lovely to weird, and the cover art is exceptionally beautiful.

My biggest complaint by far, however, is the number of dead/tragic LGBT characters there were in this anthology. 5 stories out of 18 contained LGBT character deaths, and most of them were queer women. In an anthology that seeks to destroy anti-lgbt tropes and tell "heartwarming and adventurous stories" of LGBT chars that avoid reducing them to "villains, pariahs, or cautionary tales" I guess I just expected that NOT KILLING LGBT CHARS would also be a priority, but apparently that is not the case.

Overall, this anthology was a disappointment. I had been so excited for this kickstarter, and had saved it for a year, not reading it until I was in a mood to just super enjoy awesome happy stuff. But that's not really what this is. I felt let down and kind of betrayed by the premise. And I'm not sure if the good pieces were enough to really make that up.

I only truly, super super super enjoyed 3 of the stories. The rest were okay-to-meh or left me heartsick and sad over dead queer chars.

Below is a brief piece-by-piece review:

Body count: 9 queer characters dead.

Profile Image for Laura.
1,734 reviews47 followers
July 9, 2017
Skimmed the last few stories in this anthology. Too many dead queers indeed. I liked two stories, maybe, and both were by artists whose webcomics I've enjoyed (Blue Delliquati and Kori Michaels). The concept of a queer SFF comic anthology is great, but too many sad stories and people dying, which is still the same thing straight media likes to do, and that's not what I'm looking for in my queer media.
Profile Image for Lindsay.
754 reviews80 followers
November 27, 2015
Swashbuckling space pirates, legendary dragon slayers, death-defying astronauts, and monster queen royalty. All this (and more!) in Beyond, the queer sci-fi and fantasy comic anthology. Featuring 18 stories by 26 incredible contributors, the Beyond anthology celebrates unquestionably queer characters hailing from across the spectrum of gender and sexuality, from and centre as the heroes of their own stories; exploring the galaxy, mixing magic, having renegade adventures, and saving the day!

Beyond is a comic anthology full of emotion, honesty, and hopes for more visible representation in science fiction and fantasy. Each story hammers home the idea that queer characters, meaning gay or lesbian or bisexual or transgender or non-binary or genderfluid or however the character defines themself, are present in sci-fi and fantasy. That they have their stories to tell. They they can be the hero or the heroine, the saviour or the rescuer. That they don't have to be the villain, immoral or evil or horrifying. That they are people, even when they're aliens, creatures, or androids.

All 18 stories are wonderful in their own way, each with amazing art, but here are some highlights.

"Optimal" by Blue Delliquanti. Sort of a prequel story to her ongoing webcomic O Human Star, this tells the story of Sulla, the young android made by Brendan Pinsky in order to keep the consciousness of his research partner Alistair Sterling alive, and her figuring out how to navigate in a new body. A female-gendered body. Because, according to Sulla, there's always room for improvement.

"O-Type Hypergiant" by Jon Cairns is intriguing, a sort of pure impossible science fiction story rooted in science and possibility (if such a description could ever make sense). The Instamen are artificial humanoids, sent off by humans to catalogue stars and live on time-bending satellites. It's a rather poetic story with some wonderfully detailed artwork.

"Twin-Souled" by Bevan Thomas & Kate Ebensteiner shows a tribe of aboriginal people using their magicks to combine with totems to protect their village. These people fight for love, for the ability to love whomever they wish, no matter their gender, and to be whomever they wish, no matter their gender. Even when the spirit of the totem they are bound to is a different gender than they are. To me, this story is one of the saddest, but it's filled with so much hope and love.

"The Next Day" by A. Stiffler & K. Copeland. In a world where the sun had gone dark, where the shadows stretch across the land and light is rare, a man wanders. He claims that without light, man is without hope. But one day he meets another wanderer, and as the two of them travel, as they fight against thieves, as they grow closer, the man discovers that when they are together, he needn't fear the dark. Because his light is close to him.

I love the idea of this anthology. Too often queer characters are pushed to the side in genre fiction, in prose, comics, and film, but now there's this continues wave of webcomics and crowdfunded anthologies with a huge variety of queer characters. If the modern world as we know it is full of people of different genders and sexualities, why can't science fiction and fantasy be the same way? Why can't there be more escapist genre fiction for queer people in print, on TV screens and movie screens? There's already tons of it for straight people. These stories drive home the fact that queer characters can have hopes and dreams, that they can have fun and laugh. That they can have pasts shrouded in mystery. That they can make mistakes, have regrets. That they can be in love, and be willing to fight for that love with every inch of themselves.

It makes my heart happy that this anthology exists, that there are people out there working so hard and creating amazing stories filled with diversity. If you've been looking for a collection like this, full of aliens and magic and hard journeys and honest emotion, full of representation, then check it out. I think an anthology like this is perfect for teen readers.

(I backed this anthology on Kickstarter and received a PDF and a physical copy. Those interested in Beyond can head over to the Beyond Press website.)
Profile Image for anna marie.
408 reviews89 followers
November 30, 2016
this was great!! a few of the stories i struggled to understand because they just kinda... dropped u in the middle... but most of them were beautiful and super affirming and fun and exciting and new!! <3
Profile Image for Rivqa.
Author 11 books35 followers
February 25, 2017
This is a gorgeous comic anthology with some real gems, especially considering how short the stories are.

I was a little unsure about the Two-Spirit story, as neither writer nor illustrator identified as Native in their bios.
Profile Image for Meghan Dawson.
79 reviews2 followers
February 16, 2016
While not every story in this book was interesting to me, there was a lot of diversity to the stories. I found something to like in each of the comics.
Profile Image for Avery Delany.
189 reviews35 followers
December 13, 2017
Beyond: the Queer SFF Comic Anthology is a cute, kickstarted collection of 18 stories by 26 contributors which center the diversity of queer people across different ages, genders, sexualities, races, species, body types, and family units as they swashbuckle, explore the galaxy, make new friends, and love in all its multifaceted glory. The anthology also comes with a really nice little foreward written by editor Sfe R. Monster who explains how Beyond came about and the importance of having a queer SFF anthology which challenges queer villainous tropes and celebrates queerness in all of its different forms. Like every anthology, Beyond can be a bit of a mixed bag of really great queer stories and some which are either really confusing or just a whole lot of nope.

Luminosity. Words by Gabby Reed & pictures by Rachel Dukes - ★★★☆☆ ←
The first story in the collection, Luminosity straight away focuses on the love between two women of color. One who has always dreamed of becoming an astronaut and who becomes friends with the other character, who seems to be some kind of sciencey-space experiment whose brain powers spaceships. It was a really nice way to open the anthology and I would have rated it higher if not for the ending, which, unfortunately, rather than challenging queer tropes seems to play right into the trope of dead queer women.

Islet by Niki Smith - ★★★★★ ←
Islet is beautifully illustrated with a story that I really enjoyed. It's a snapshot into the life of a little female, interspecies family as the human woman prepares to depart on a journey to discover and defeat a plague which is wiping out the alien species on the planet and that she fears will take the lives of her family. It's a touching story and one of my favourites in the anthology.

Of Families & Other Magical Objects by Reed Black - ★★★★☆ ←
This is a super squishy and cute story of an interracial family with two dads who find one night that their daughter has been replaced by a goblin changeling and have to 'rescue her' from the goblin house at the end of the road. Only to find that not only is their daughter not in need of any rescuing, but that their family is about to get a whole lot bigger! The story and the illustrations are very reminiscent of Fosters Home for Imaginary Friends. A top pick for other readers, but I didn't enjoy it as much as other people (just down to preference rather than anything wrong with the story itself!)

A Royal Affair by Taneka Stotts and Christianne Goudreau - ★★★☆☆ ←
A fun little story about a female pirate of colour who thinks that she's at the royal palace to carry out a dastardly theft of the royal vault, but the King/Queen has very different ideas! Not a whole lot to say about this one although it is a nice addition to the anthology.

The Graves of Wolves by Ted Adrien Closson - ★★★☆☆ ←
Another interspecies family, this time with two dads and a little alien boy who are surviving in a kind of snowy post-apocalyptic setting. We find out that this little family are the sole survivors of a disastrous plague which devours anything in sight. Like some of the other stories in the anthology, I didn't quite understand the story or the ending but enjoyed the rest of it.

Versus by Wm Brian Maclean - ★★★☆☆ ←
Versus is a really nice, short little addition which plays on the fact that the anthology is produced in black and white and so utilizes the Yin/Yang symbol to tell a little story about love and has absolutely no dialogue in it! Sadly though its another story which, once again, ends in death.

Optimal by Blue Delliquanti - ★★★★★ ←
Another one of my favourites! Optimal has a lovely trans MC android who was made as a replica of her creator's research partner who died unexpectedly. The story explores our MC's journey to discover who she really is and finding love and acceptance from her father.

Duty & Honour by Shing Yin Khor- ★★★★★ ←
Duty & Honour is a fantastically written and illustrated piece which really stands out as a complete gem in Beyond. I was super into the story and loved the fact that not only did D&H have racial diversity and different sexual orientations, but its MC's were part of a polyamorous relationship! It made me so happy to see this, as I feel that polyamorous relationships are often left out of depictions of queer diversity and I think it might also be the only story (if not one of the only stories) which actually has a bisexual character!

O-Type Hypergiant by Jon Cairns - ★★★☆☆ ←
The Giver was quite a long and complicated story that tbh... I didn't really enjoy very much. The most that I could gather of the story is that it's about three "Instamen", artificial humanoids who live in space and catalogue stars. It has three cis male characters who all seem to have a name which is a variation of James (Jim, James, and Jamie) and can apparently regrow parts of themselves or each other in entirety should one of them die (spoiler: one of them does and it brings the other two characters together). I found the story far too long, full of complicated scientific discussions about stars, and by this point was starting to get annoyed at the frequency of death.

The Dragon Slayer's Son by Sfe R. Monster & B. Sabo- ★★★★★ ←
Yesssssss. I loved this one A LOT. I had been wondering throughout the other stories whether there would be any trans masculine characters and there was! The illustrations are absolutely wonderful and I really enjoyed the story about gender-fluidity and dragon slaying! As pointed out by some other reviewers, there is a slightly problematic element in the story as gender-fluidity seems determined by social roles. Although the MC and his mother are no longer part of their tribe, our MC, who was born female, wants to go through the dragon slaying rite of passage to become a man. We also find out that his mother had also gone through this rite of passage, was previously male, but is now a woman (because of child rearing?) Very enjoyable and cute, but I do think there needs to be some critical reflection on the representation of gender fluidity.

Twin Souled. Story by Bevan Thomas and art by Kate Ebensteiner - ★☆☆☆☆ ←
I'm hesitant to even give this story one star if my understanding of it is correct. This story is about Native Americans who regard themselves as 'twin souled' as a result of being able to converge with their totems to protect their village. Now, I just want to unpack this a little bit. While I was reading the story, I got some really weird vibes from it because it did not seem like it was written by an indigenous person at all. From doing some research, it appears that neither the writer or the artist are indigenous people. In fact, the writer, who appears to be a white cis man, even goes so far to describe himself as having "been enthralled by tales of magic and myth since he was a little boy, and is especially intrigued by stories where the magic is used to transcend boundaries... He has often imagined what it would be like to put on his own creature suit to become a bear, a bird, or some other beast". This story and the writer is highly problematic and it really made me side eye the decision to include this story in the anthology at all. If you're interested in reading comics written by indigenous people I highly, highly recommend you check out Moonshot: The Indigenous Comics Collection, Volume 1.

The Monster Queen by Savannah Horrocks and April J. Martins - ★★★★★ ←
I LOVE THIS ONE SO MUCH. It's another lovely, super squishy story about a princess who does not agree with her kingdoms prejudice against monsters and ends up in the most adorable romance with a very tall, elegant female monster when the princess returns her monster rhino-dog to her. ITS SO CUTE and you all need to read this one because it's so great.

The Valley of the Silk Sky: 'Medicine; Run' by Dylan Edwards - ★★☆☆☆ ←
Another one that I really did not enjoy despite its racial, gender and interspecies diversity. It is the only story in the anthology to use gender neutral pronouns, which I loved, but to be honest, I didn't enjoy the story at all and found it far too long.

Mourning Tea by Kori Michele Handwerker- ★★★★☆ ←
A lovely ghostly story full of strange and wonderful creatures, and two Asian female MC's. The illustrations are lovely, the story is quite magical and overall I really enjoyed it. Although I didn't understand the story 100%, the bits I did understand I liked a lot and it reminded me quite a lot of Spirited Away (which is never a bad thing!)

They Simply Pass by Kristina Stipetic- ★★★★★ ←
LOVED THIS. It's about a little robot who stumbles across an alien (or robot, not sure) colony during something called the Bethrothulation. The alien-robots appear to not have have a gender, but rather are divided into Transmitters and Aggregators. Transmittors are programmed to mate with Aggregators (who bear the eggs), and Transmittors die when this process is complete, much to the horror of our little robot friend! But fear not, rebellion is afoot as two brave Transmittors stand up against a society which says they should reproduce and die for the "good of the society". Super cute illustrations, a really good story and one which actually has a very interesting wider point!

Barricade. Written by Alison Wilgus and art by Anissa Espinosa - ★★★☆☆ ←
Female astronaut romance in space! After a temperature core accident which brings down some space infrastructure, our MC is on a mission to rescue her fellow female astronaut who is trapped behind a broken door. Pretty cute but nothing too amazing in terms of story.

Eat at Chelle's. Story by Leia Weathington and art by Lin Visel - ★★☆☆☆ ←
Another story features a female interracial couple (and a little pig!) I felt like the story offered a lot of promise but never quite achieved it! As a reader we are kind of plonked down in the middle of a story and ended in the middle of the story without ever really explaining what was going on. I cannot tell you what this one is about because I don't even know myself, other than it having something to do with a restaurant?

The Next Day by A. Stiffler and K. Copeland - ★★☆☆☆ ←
In a world that has been destroyed, had its sun stolen and launched into darkness by a great wolf, two men find each other in the wilderness and fall in love. Previously their life had been almost unbearable as every day had become a struggle, but with each other, each day just got better and better. There's a bit of a sad blip towards the end when the white male MC becomes blinded, but the resolution seems to be that now he has found his love (his guiding light) his life will always be full of light? It was an okay story and the illustrations were quite good, but I felt it was such a weak end to the anthology

On the whole, I am super glad that the Beyond anthology exists because we do desperately need more queer stories, more queer SFF, more queer comics! Anthologies like this are SO important for expressing the sheer diversity of queer people and their lives. However, I don't think the Beyond delivers so much on its promise to "challenge queer tropes" or on its story delivery. In the first instance, it's not enough to just not cast queers as villains because there are so many other queer tropes. I was so surprised as just how many stories ended up in death. The wonder of SFF is that ANYTHING is possible! We are not limited to our own experiences of queerness but can explore so many other possibilities, and I feel this wasn't really achieved. Moreover, despite the few wonderful 5-star stories hidden within the anthology, a lot of the stories were quite lackluster or confusing! I do know that there is a Beyond 2 currently in the works, so I have a lot of hope that the editor will take on board constructive criticisms and we'll have something even more amazing for the next edition! Either way, SUPPORT SUPPORT SUPPORT work by queer creators and keep working towards even better diversity!
Profile Image for Becky.
1,275 reviews51 followers
May 7, 2019
This collection made less of an impact for me than I expected, although I did flat out cry reading the first story. I’m not sure that these stories were objectively less exciting than those in the Oath anthology, but I think I’ve definitely been exposed to more (very well done) queer sff stories than queer superhero stories, so maybe that is why I was personally more excited by the superhero anthology. The stories were also decidedly less fluffy, and while the characters’ sexuality or gender was usually not the cause of their suffering they still often had a rough time of it in their sff setting. And there was a story with two-spirit characters that seemed to have taken inspiration from Indigenous traditions, but wasn’t own voices as far as I could tell, which felt like probably a miss to me. Overall a quick and predominantly enjoyable read, just didn’t live up to my high expectations to be completely swept away.

My favorites were Luminosity, a love story between two women, one an astronaut and the other with some kind of telekinetic powers used to power space flight; Duty and Honor, a story about a polyamorous relationship between three astronauts; and The Monster Queen, a textless story about a princess in a kingdom where monsters are hated and feared.
Profile Image for Freakish.
15 reviews
January 7, 2021
I've giving this series 3.5/5.

Whilst I enjoyed a lot of the stories told, I think the book suffered by having perhaps too many. I found myself quite often confused by the lack of context, or simply wanting more from the story I was reading. However, I'm glad I read this as I have been wanting to consume more queer literature for a while now, and this definitely scratches that itch and has encouraged me to find more!

On to Beyond II!
Profile Image for Brian.
151 reviews6 followers
January 23, 2018
Very enjoyable collection of stories.

Some of the selection was underwhelming, however, whether through lack of narrative development or poor art style. However, I enjoyed the majority of the collection.
Profile Image for Lynn DiFerdinando.
352 reviews5 followers
June 25, 2018
I backed this on Kickstarter, but only just got around to reading the PDF when I moved my files to my new computer. So many sweet, cute stories, and wonderfully drawn. My personal favorites were O-Type Hypergiant and Eat at Chelle's, and the ending story The Next Day was cute too. The stories that really gave off a feeling of enduring, growing love, and also had very nice worldbuilding, which is always a plus.
Profile Image for Emily✨.
1,622 reviews30 followers
July 10, 2018
This anthology includes a wealth of different art and story styles, all of them featuring queer characters. All of my ratings for the individual comics together averages out to about 3 stars, which is pretty accurate to how I felt about the anthology as a whole. Many of the stories felt too short, without enough context to really immerse myself in the characters or the world. I will say that I am SO GLAD this anthology exists at all, and it was great to see a variety of queer representation here, including pan/bi, poly, and genderqueer identities, with a variety of ethnicities.

Luminosity by Gabby Reed & Rachel Dukes ★★★☆☆
Representation: wlw, Black
A relationship between a black female astronaut and another WOC called Medina who acts as some sort of powerful battery. Medina can successfully power interstellar space travel, which is great news for her astronaut girlfriend, except that the return trip might just kill her.
Great artwork, loved the black woman in a STEM career field. Wish we'd had more background on Medina's abilities and into the ethics of using people (of color, especially) as batteries/fuel by a government program.

Islet by Niki Smith ★★☆☆☆
Representation: wlw
An ex-soldier has settled and started a family in a community of salt-water drinkers living on small islets in the middle of a sea. A growing plague endangers her new community, and she must make the journey back to the land she came from to find a cure.
Both the artwork and the story were a little sparse for me.

Of Families & Other Magical Objects by Reed Black ★★★☆☆ (3.5)
Representation: mlm, Black, Indian
Two dads must stage a rescue mission when their adopted daughter is stolen by goblins and replaced by a changeling.
Super cute story about family being what you make it. I didn’t love the art style for the humans, but I did like it for everything else, it reminded me of a Cartoon Network show.

A Royal Affair by Christianne Goudreau & Taneka Stotts ★★★★☆
Represenation: wlw, pansexual?, Black, Asian, genderqueer/non-binary
A black female pirate captain crashes the coronation of a ruler who is struggling with the decision of whether to become a king or a queen. The pirate offers them a third option: put off the decision (even indefinitely) by running away to the open ocean! Unbeknownst to the pirate, the ruler already has another plan in mind…
Loved the art style, and would love to read a longer version of this story of pirates and genderqueer rulers taking on social norms!

The Graves of Wolves by Ted Classon★★★☆☆
Representation: mlm
On an icy, desolate planet, two men have adopted a young extraterrestrial and are trying to make the best of things.
Interesting premise, but not enough meat to really get me invested.

Versus by Wm Brian MacLean ★☆☆☆☆
Could not even begin to tell you what was going on in this one. It was very abstract, which is not my cup of tea.

Optimal by Blue Delliquanti ★★★★☆
Representation: mlm, trans
An android created to be a replica of a scientist’s late partner identifies as female, and wants her body to reflect that.
Really sweet story about a trans android that was created with a man in mind. This is one of the only comics in the anthology that I feel really stood well on its own as a short story.

Duty and Honor by Shing Yin Khor ★★★★☆
Representation: bisexual, wlw, poly, Chinese, Indian
Ming Hua’s husband and lover are both already living on the Martian colony, waiting for her own Mars mission to join them.
This story was very touching and bittersweet. I loved the polyamory representation here.

O-Type Hypergiant by Jon Cairns ★★☆☆☆ (2.5)
Representation: mlm
Androids called “Instamen” explore the universe and catalog stars for their human creators. The spaceship that Jim, Jamie, and James live on encounters a dangerous circumstance that requires a daring repair mission.
Too sciency for me, with a lot of jargon that I got bored of. I’ll also admit that I was a little weirded out by the romance between two androids who are carbon copies of each other, even down to being named James….

The Dragon Slayer's Son by Sfé R. Monster ★★★★☆
Representation: trans, mlm
The ftm son of an mtf dragon slayer is on a quest to slay his first dragon as part of the ritual of becoming a man.
Really liked the art style of this comic, and this was another comic that I thought really stood well on its own and felt like a complete short story. The message at the end was excellent.

Twin Souled by Kate Ebensteiner & Bevan Thomas ★★★★☆
Representation: Native American, two-spirit
A community under attack must turn to the protection offered by the totem spirits, which use members of the tribe as vessels. One of these members is the new wife of the chief, a two-spirit woman [she uses fem pronouns] who does not yet feel wholly accepted in her new family.
The story was captivating, and the speech given by the main character at the end was really touching. I can’t speak to the accuracy of the representation, and from what I can tell neither the writer nor artist of this comic identifies as either Native or two-spirit (or even non-cis).

The Monster Queen by Savannah Horrocks & April J. Martins ★★★☆☆
Representation: wlw
A princess grows uncomfortable with her kingdom’s treatment of “monsters” and resolves to do what she can to help the non-human creatures. It doesn’t hurt that a charming and beautiful monster has caught her eye.
A cute story without any dialogue. I liked that we got to see both love interests pining after each other.

Valley of the Silk Sky: Medicine; Run by Dylan Edwards ★★★☆☆
Representation: non-binary genders
Two youngsters sneak away to go on a dangerous quest for medicinal supplies, and sure enough, they encounter some difficulties. Their exasperated parents go after them.
It was interesting that all of the characters seem to use xe/xer pronouns, indicating a genderless society. This comic is a companion piece to the author’s ongoing webcomic, Valley of the Silk Sky, and extensive world-building was evident even in this short story. However, there was so much action and a lot of characters that I didn’t really feel like I go the chance to connect with any of them.

Mourning Tea by Kori Michele Handwerker ★★☆☆☆
Representation: non-binary, Indian, disability (amputee)
A disabled, non-binary ghost works at a tea restaurant whose customers are spirits.
I had a hard time following the story on this one, and I’m not totally clear on what Dee is exactly, if Andi is a ghost?

They Simply Pass by Kristina Stipetic ★★★☆☆ (3.5)
Representation: wlw
In an all-female extraterrestrial society, some are “transmitters” (i.e. fertilizers) and some are “aggregators” (i.e. incubators) in the reproductive process. Once a transmitter contributes “her code” to the offspring, she dies. But some transmitters are not content with this arrangement.
I really enjoyed the metaphor about reproductive rights in this story, including the right to choose not to reproduce, and for reproduction to not be one’s entire value. I was a little uncomfortable that the metaphor extended to literal death due to reproduction in this society, though-- it seemed a little heavy-handed. There was also a character from outside the community who seemed to only exist to ask questions for the reader’s benefit.

Barricade by Anissa Espinosa & Alison Wilgus ★★★☆☆ (2.5)
Representation: wlw, WOC
When a technical malfunction on a space colony strands her partner in a room quickly losing oxygen, Sloan must undergo a speedy rescue mission.
This story was fraught, yet in the end it was a very simple, quick rescue story without much more meat to it than that.

Eat At Chelle's by Lin Visel & Leia Weathington ★★☆☆☆ (2.5)
Representation: wlw, POC
A simple business meeting turns into a dodge and run through a crowded marketplace to escape an angry and magical ex-girlfriend. Will Chelle manage to get back to her restaurant in time for its opening night?
It was interesting and the artwork was good, but ultimately I just felt like I was missing too much of the story and world set-up.

The Next Day by A. Stiffler & K. Copeland ★★★★★
Representation: mlm, MOC, disability (amputee, disfigurement, blind)
The world has gone completely dark and cold. Yet, in each other, Aud and Ziri find comfort, light, and warmth no matter the hardship.
This story was so sweet and lovely, even set in a dangerous post-apocalyptic land. The artwork was gorgeous, too. This was my favorite comic, and it was a great way to end the anthology.

+The Giver and The Gift by Kiku Hughes
Representation: Asian
Not sure how to rate these, since they’re just two (maybe related?) single illustrations, rather than a comic telling a story. There also isn’t anything included in them to indicate that the characters are queer, so…? Perhaps these were just included to give exposure to another queer comic artist, and I did like the art style.
Profile Image for Meepelous.
602 reviews36 followers
January 10, 2016
Creative, poignant, imaginative and artistically talented are a mere handful of the words that come to mind after finishing this collection. While I don't think this book is for absolutely everyone, I do think that anyone who has any familiarity with science fiction and fantasy and is hungry for new kinds of stories will enjoy at least one of the stories in here if not many many more.

The only criticism I can think of really is that they did cover such a wide variety of stories means that there will be one for everyone to not get particularly excited about. I, personally, found some of the more technical science stories a little dense, but there are plenty more people who will be turned off by the squishy feelings stuff.

That said, I do think it's unfair to let my personal tastes get too much airtime here because overall this book is amazingly well pieced together for such a wide subject. In a world of recycled tropes and cliches, Beyond gives us a taste of what's to come. The only thing we should really be complaining about is why there isn't more of this?

Encompassing a wide variety of styles, each artist that contributed to this collection is clearly very talented at what they do. Maybe I've been reading too many superhero comics, but I don't take consistent proportional looking humans for granted anymore. But the artists here don't simply stop at technical achievement, they fly right past it – imbuing each of these stories with an extra level of expression through their imaginative designs and layouts.

But the art is just the cherry on top of the cake really when it comes to this collection, because what most of us are here for is the stories right? Beautifully touching stories that we've never been allowed to tell before. Fantastical stories that people still want to reject as silly and unnecessary. It strikes me as tremendously silly that we live in a world where almost everything around us has been repeated and recreated ad nauseam and there are still people who try and shit on anything new and different. We have just had a whole new world of possibilities revealed to us and you just want to close the door?

At this point I guess I should admit to having a second issues with this collection, namely that all the stories were far too short! But that is the way of things with short story anthologies. Listening to Margaret Atwood's short story collection Stone Mattress I think it's fair to say that short stories are supposed to leave us with more suspense and questions then when it starts. Sucking us in and spitting us out over and over and over again.

Some of the most influential stories in history lack something key to make them whole. I actually think it's what makes them so darn recyclable. Whether it be the lack of emotional depth in Sherlock Holmes, the straight forward shortness of Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde, or the way in which we can never quite decide what Frankenstein is really all about we are attracted to strong ideas. I am personally over the moon at the idea of all the full length novels, web comics and (cross my fingers) movies that this anthology will inspire.

So yeah, I loved this book. I think I might even raise my star rating to five stars. Personally I found it hugely inspiring and writing this review has only made me more excited about it. I will definitely be checking out other work by these authors and artists and maybe just maybe I might even start scribbling out some new ideas of my own this snowy afternoon.
Profile Image for Khai.
184 reviews1 follower
July 2, 2018
I was part of the kickstarter for this book and I couldn't be more excited that it came to be! It's full of wonderful stories with beautiful illustrations, and one of my most loved books! Rich characters and worlds - I only wish the stories could be continued! Even so, they live on in your mind. I love the representation, and all the writers and artists are downright amazing! Sfe and Taneka are just incredible for bringing it all together and making it a reality.
Profile Image for Charles.
Author 65 books120 followers
August 18, 2016
Stuff I Read – Beyond: the Queer Sci-Fi & Fantasy Comic Anthology Review
How do I even begin to talk about how amazing this anthology is? I backed it on Kickstarter because, well, because there aren't enough comics by and for queer people. Or at least not enough that aren't entirely about being queer. Not that those are bad but sometimes I just want fun space stories full of queer characters. IS THAT SO WRONG?! Or fantasy stories that don't pretend that queer people were invented in the 1960s and therefore historically inaccurate to have in a fantasy setting. Seriously. No. And this anthology does so much that is awesome. So much. The stories live and breathe and they are fun and they are chilling and they are uplifting and they are moving.

And don't get me wrong with what I said before. These are queer stories. But there's a difference between a story that is about how being queer is the…the problem, I guess, and stories where the characters are just queer and out doing their thing, saving the world, righting wrongs, surviving. These stories are fun and they imagine worlds and universes for these characters to have adventures in. And we need more of that. We need more SFF stories and especially SFF comics that feature queer characters being the heroes and the scoundrels and the chosen ones. This is why I get so much of my comics from Kickstarter now, because it seems like the most dependable place to get comic book anthologies that speak to me. That inspire me. That give me hope.

So buy this anthology. Or rent it from your library. The stories are incredibly diverse and the creators manage to capture with art and with text the feeling of being in a different world. Or finding magic in this one. From space pirates to two dads trying to save their daughter from…David Bowie…this anthology brings the fun and the powerful, the deep and the delightful. It is amazing and I want so much more. A 9.5/10!
Profile Image for Vanellope.
711 reviews37 followers
December 24, 2017
Good stuff! There were some that I liked more than others. A couple of them were a bit confusing, 'cause there wasn't much building up to what was going on, but I guess its hard to explain everything in short stories, especially in graphic form. But some were super cute and heartwarming (or heartbreaking) and creative, and totally worth it. It also did some things I'd never seen before (like a poly character and xe pronouns) which doesnt happen very often, and I appreciate it.
Profile Image for Skye Kilaen.
Author 15 books304 followers
June 18, 2018
Two words for this anthology: Overwhelmingly excellent. I keep trying to flip through it so I can include some details, but I get sucked in and start re-reading it. With 20 stories and 270+ pages, that's a lot of good stuff here. Two dads save their daughter from goblins. The heir to the throne tricks a pirate into having "just a little chat." In a side story from O Human Star, an android envisioned as male gets help from her creator to transition to a new female body. (Realistic hair is tough!) A worker on a faraway planet makes a desperate dash across its surface after an accident and depressurization in a nearby facility. This may be my second favorite comics anthology ever, it's incredibly diverse in both characters and creators, and it's given me a lot of homework for writers and artists to go find their other work. Even if you're not queer like me, if you're a genre fan, you want this.
Profile Image for Kendra.
4 reviews
January 10, 2016
I am so glad I Kickstarted this masterpiece of art, sci fi, diversity, and story telling! I'm not really used to any anthologies outside of the Flight series, so this was a fantastic surprise. Of the dozens of stories (all of which created entire worlds, characters, and plots in just a few frames!!), I can honestly say only one or two did not resonate with me. Many made me smile, all of them made me think, and more than one brought me to tears. This will be one to reread constantly and get more out of it each time.
Profile Image for Rachel.
268 reviews
November 16, 2015
Because of the unusual format of an anthology, the stories are very short, which makes for some interesting limitations. They tend to be more vignette-like than have full plots. A beautiful book full of new and interesting twists on old tropes.
Profile Image for Hannah.
333 reviews21 followers
November 18, 2016
Absolutely phenomenal. I loved every story. I got Beyond on sale for $5 with the proceeds donated to Trans Lifeline, but I would honestly buy it again for a much larger sum. This anthology was exactly what I needed at this point in my life, and I'll bet it will resonate with a lot of you, as well.
Profile Image for Julia.
123 reviews14 followers
June 26, 2018
Antes que nada, es importante destacar que este libro mezcla historias con finales felices, esperanzadores, trágicos y a veces algo agridulces. Tal como en la vida las personas de la comunidad LGBTQ+ experimentan toda clase de emociones y situaciones, este libro también hace un repaso por algunas de ellas y más. Menciono esto no como una falta por parte del libro (en ningún momento lo es), sino porque sé muy bien que hay veces en que la comunidad busca leer historias libres de aspectos negativos (muertes en especial), como una forma de escapar por un instante de las dificultades que enfrentan en sus vidas. Es por ello que veo importante tenerlo en cuenta para aquellos que no quieran leer algunos de estos trabajos en cierto momento.

En general, estoy satisfecha con la compra que realicé. Este libro lo adquirí de impulso, ya que quería apoyar a ciertos autores LGBTQ+, y disfruté gran parte de las historias presentadas en la recopilación. La portada de la copia física es hermosa y, en su totalidad, el libro tiene una gran calidad visual. Hay estilos de dibujo que me atraen más que otros, pero la impresión en tonos de grises es clara y la calidad del papel se agradece.

Como en toda antología, hay historias que nos tocan más profundamente que otras. Aquí debo admitir que incluso hay una en específico que simplemente no la entendí. Pero esto es solo un detalle. La mayoría de las historias son interesantes, pero no del todo fuertes. Esto puede deberse a que los autores solo tenían de 10 a 20 páginas para trabajar y plasmar sus ideas. Algunos lo lograron de forma sublime, nada que decir al respecto, solo elogios. Pero otros solo dejan a lector en mitad de una historia, un momento de trama, perdidos, y eso no puede ser. Ejecutado de forma correcta, dejar caer al autor en medio de la historia suele funcionar, pero en algunos de estos trabajos quedé con más preguntas que respuestas y con la sensación de no haber entendido realmente qué ocurría. Tal vez a algunos lectores esto no les genero problemas, pero a mí, personalmente, no me dejó disfrutar algunas de las historias.

Quiero mencionar las que me llamaron particularmente la atención:

O-Type Hypergiant por Jon Cairns
Trata sobre seres artificiales de aspecto humanoide masculino cuyo trabajo es monitorear estrellas mientras viajan a través del espacio. A pesar de que son muchos los aspectos técnicos con los que se deben lidiar al principio, tanto el dibujo como los diálogos construyen una historia intrincada, interesante y con un final poderoso.

Optimal por Blue Delliquanti
Trata de un robot que fue diseñado a la imagen del compañero de su creador, pero que a medida que su consciencia de si mismo evoluciona junto con nuevos ajustes a su cuerpo, desea que su cuerpo físico sea femenino.

They Simply Pass por Kristina Stipetic
Una sociedad de mujeres robot con roles definidos y una forma de reproducción contra la cual uno de los personajes querrá rebelarse. Creo que es un comentario interesante sobre los roles de género de la sociedad y la importancia que a estos se les da.

Eat at Chelle's por Lin Visel, Leia Weathington y Joseph Bergin III
Una historia divertida y encantadora con protagonistas lesbianas y trans que trabajan en un restaurante y tienen que sortear todo tipo de situaciones y obstáculos para obtener los ingredientes del día. Una de las más sólidas de la colección y de las que de verdad desearía ver más futuro.

The Next Day por Stiffler and Copeland
Un mundo distópico en la que dos hombres se encuentran y poco a poco se dan cuenta que su presencia en la vida del otro es la luz en medio de aquella perpetua oscuridad.

Una lectura amena. Aunque hubiera preferido que eligieran historias que rompieran con el estereotipo del perosnaje LGBTQ+ muerto; al menos en ese sentido ocurrió por cosas ajenas a su sexualidad, que es lo que suele ser usual. Más adelante espero poder leer el segundo volumen de la antología.
Profile Image for Nick Fagerlund.
345 reviews16 followers
May 31, 2018
Anthologies are fundamentally odd, I think, or at least the experience of reading one through is bizarre. Like... themes are weird, and un-themed anthologies are also weird. But they're a good way to support artists you like who're between Things at the moment, and a good way to maybe find out about some new folks (although they make following up way more awkward than when you just see a lone short make the rounds on Twitter or Tumblr), so I end up with a bunch of them. And I'm a bit behind on them at the moment!

Anyway, this one has an impressive density of good work in it. TBH I was concerned it would be a bit basic, since the whole theme was just "queer SFF" and with a dictate that loose I was kind of braced for like twenty repetitive gentle coming-out stories. But luckily, no! So my compliments to the editor.

A few of my favorite standouts:

- Jon Cairns' "O-Type Hypergiant"
- Sfé R. Monster's "The Dragon Slayer's Son"
- Kristina Stipetic's "They Simply Pass"
- Anissa Espinosa & Alison Wilgus' "Barricade"
Profile Image for MechaComicReviews.
146 reviews1 follower
May 24, 2020
Beyond: The Queer Sci-Fi & Fantasy Comic Anthology highlights LGBTQ+ narratives in genres that have long been popularized and served as refuge for queer folk. The potential to imagine a future or create a universe around representation of diverse people, aliens, and beasts is a great way to inspire people who are often underrepresented in other genres. Speculating ways that can bring hope to people who are often ostracized is one of the many potentials of Sci-Fi and Fantasy.

While most anthologies have a few duds in their collections, the majority of the stories in this book, edited by Sfé R. Monster, are successes and highlight tales of trans folk, poly relationships, queer stories, and ultimately the love shared between people no matter their backgrounds. The stories stray away from being dour and instead focus on the bonds we make with each other, and how other people make similar bonds even if they’re different from you. Love and caring and friendship is universal.

Plus, there’s the occasional dragon and space ship. That helps a lot, too.
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