Out of This World: Queer Speculative Fiction Stories collects a number of works by Catherine Lundoff that take readers on a journey through a variety of times and places with protagonists who fall within the LGBTQ+ community. Many of these stories have been out of print for years or have appeared in other collections, but are now for the first time together in a brand new anthology. You will find vampires, ghosts, the works of Shakespeare, and even more within the pages of this Queen of Swords book.
As this is such a diverse anthology I wanted to highlight three of the stories that struck me in a bit more detail. The first of which was “Medium Mechaniqué,” which is sent in the steampunk work of Victorian London. With mechanical gears and steam powered carriages the feel of this world is both mechanical and mystical. A young woman has come to Madame LeFarge to reconnect with her lost love, but this medium has a mechanized eye that seems to increase her powers. When the woman hears the voice of her beloved Annabel she must decide if she wishes to join her or whether she will lose her again. As the seancé occurs in this story the tone is eerie and Lundoff is able to embody the period of spiritualism and the macabre feel they often embody. The tales of fairies and their desire to steal people away is in a number of fairy tales and in “A Scent of Roses” Janet is often watched by the Queen of the Seelie Court. She once saved the man she had born a child with from a tithe to the Queen, but now he has lost all of his authority in the realm and is no longer a knight. He spends his days drinking and singing the songs of the fae and Janet works their land mourning the life she could have had and the child that did not survive. The Queen has begun visiting her dreams and Janet begins to wonder what it would be like in the realm of the fae. This story shows a woman yearning for a new life and a happiness she feels is lacking. Janet is not trying to escape, but she sees a life could be possible if she gives into the desires of the Queen.
“Spell, Book and Candle” takes the idea of a love spell and turns it upside down. Selena owns a magic shop and while she has never dabbled in love spells she does sell the elements for them to her customers. She is surprised when a former girlfriend appears and is eager to get a few things to try and get a girl to return her affections. The issue with the spell is that she isn’t sure if the object of her affection is actually into women. Selena lets that slide, but seeing Mona again leads her to attempt a spell to try and reignite their flame. Even with a warning, the spell she attempts invokes a spirit connected to her family and nothing goes exactly as planned. The twist of this spell initially had me laughing practically out loud and then the ending itself teased something I would be very intrigued to see going forward. All of the stories within Out of This World are engaging and fun reads and no matter what genre you are typically drawn to you will definitely find something you will enjoy. You can get your copy of Out of This World: Queer Speculative Fiction Stories today.