Transcendent by K.M. Szpara


The Year's Best Transgender Speculative Fiction
edited by
Email this review


Szpara edits an anthology of new, speculative short stories from transgender perspectives.

A transgender man and his melancholy family live in different decades by using an heirloom time machine. A woman works on fostering telepathy between people and animals in order for humanity to get the upper hand in a war with aliens. A female resident of a fishing village, who desires a wombless body, goes to sea in a magic ship. An aspiring librarian is tasked with making books easier to share while simultaneously making them impossible to steal. These and other stories in this collection, set in places both fantastic and familiar, follow characters who seem caught forever between worlds. In an introduction, Szpara explains the content: “There are stories with actual transgender characters, some for whom that is central and others for whom that isn’t. And there are stories without transgender characters, but with metaphors and symbolism in their place, genuine expressions of self through shapeshifting and programming.” From Holly Heisey’s short, epistolary “Contents of Care Package to Etsath-tachri, Formerly Ryan Andrew Curran (Human English Translated to Sedrayin)” to Penny Stirling’s meditative, fragmentary “Kin, Painted,” the tales depict a multitude of forms, genres, cultures, and time frames. All were published in various literary journals in 2015 and represent the diversity of both transgender and speculative fiction. They interact with past literary traditions, respond to the evolving social climate of the present, and, of course, imagine the landscapes of the future. Authors also include Benjanun Sriduangkaew, Everett Maroon, E. Catherine Tobler, and Molly Tanzer, among others, most of whom readers will likely encounter for the first time. The stories are as literary as they are imaginative, written in practiced prose that probes and interrogates the emotional states of their characters. The speculative scenarios match with transgender perspectives in such complementary, productive ways that one wonders why it hasn’t been done more often. Traditional boundaries of identity and structure are blessedly absent, as this anthology challenges readers’ expectations in ways that few have managed to do before.

A varied, remarkable collection of trans-themed fiction.

Pub Date: Sept. 17th, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-59021-617-0
Page count: 206pp
Publisher: Lethe Press
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 2016


IndieQUALIA NOUS by Michael Bailey
by Michael Bailey
IndieDaughters of Frankenstein by Steve Berman
by Steve Berman