This week is Genderfluid Visibility Week, so the Duck Prints Press rec list contributors present: 7 of our favorite stories with genderfluid characters! Note that, in a lot of settings, it wouldn’t make sense for these characters to label themselves with the words we use now, so it can be challenging to identify characters who are genderfluid. For several of the characters on this list, their gender identities are open to interpretation, and while the Press contributors who suggested these books have interpreted them as genderfluid, it would also be valid to interpret these characters as (for example) non-binary or trans. If you read these books and didn’t feel the character was genderfluid – we support you! But they spoke to us as examples of genderfluid characters, and so we’ve included them.
Dreams Bigger than Heartbreak by Charlie Jane Anders
They’ll do anything to be the people they were meant to be — even journey into the heart of evil.
Rachael Townsend is the first artist ever to leave Earth and journey out into the galaxy — but after an encounter with an alien artifact, she can’t make art at all.
Elza Monteiro is determined to be the first human to venture inside the Palace of Scented Tears and compete for the chance to become a princess — except that inside the palace, she finds the last person she ever wanted to see again.
Tina Mains is studying at the Royal Space Academy with her friends, but she’s not the badass space hero everyone was expecting.
Soon Rachael is journeying into a dark void, Elza is on a deadly spy mission, and Tina is facing an impossible choice that could change all her friends lives forever.
Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
In Norse Mythology, Gaiman stays true to the myths in envisioning the major Norse pantheon: Odin, the highest of the high, wise, daring, and cunning; Thor, Odin’s son, incredibly strong yet not the wisest of gods; and Loki–son of a giant–blood brother to Odin and a trickster and unsurpassable manipulator.
Gaiman fashions these primeval stories into a novelistic arc that begins with the genesis of the legendary nine worlds and delves into the exploits of deities, dwarfs, and giants. Once, when Thor’s hammer is stolen, Thor must disguise himself as a woman–difficult with his beard and huge appetite–to steal it back. More poignant is the tale in which the blood of Kvasir – the most sagacious of gods – is turned into a mead that infuses drinkers with poetry. The work culminates in Ragnarok, the twilight of the gods and rebirth of a new time and people.
Through Gaiman’s deft and witty prose emerge these gods with their fiercely competitive natures, their susceptibility to being duped and to duping others, and their tendency to let passion ignite their actions, making these long-ago myths breathe pungent life again.
Heaven Official’s Blessing by Mo Xiang Tong Xiu
A GOD FALLEN, A GHOST RISEN
Born the crown prince of a prosperous kingdom, Xie Lian was renowned for his beauty, strength, and purity. His years of dedicated study and noble deeds allowed him to ascend to godhood. But those who rise may also fall, and fall he does–cast from the heavens and banished to the world below.
Eight hundred years after his mortal life, Xie Lian has ascended to godhood for the third time, angering most of the gods in the process. To repay his debts, he is sent to the Mortal Realm to hunt down violent ghosts and troublemaking spirits who prey on the living. Along his travels, he meets the fascinating and brilliant San Lang, a young man with whom he feels an instant connection. Yet San Lang is clearly more than he appears… What mysteries lie behind that carefree smile?
She Wears the Midnight Crown, an anthology of sapphic masquerade stories, specifically “Are you in love with the squid?” by D. A. Hernández
She Wears the Midnight Crown features 17 stories of wlw characters exploring their relationships as they develop, grow, and change during (literal or figurative) masquerades! Our contributors have stretched their imaginations to present innovative stories exploring what a masquerade can be…and, of course, tell rich, engaging tales of wonderful queer folk finding love, companionship, acceptance, the queer platonic relationship of their dreams, or the found family they deserve. The collected works feature characters in all the colors of the Pride rainbow, queer and genderqueer, and these diverse individuals inhabit worlds ranging from science fiction settings where everyone must be masked to breathe, to fantasies where no one wears a literal mask but everyone shows the world a false guise, to iterations of the real world where some people lean into deception.
Rust in the Root by Justina Ireland
It is 1937, and Laura Ann Langston lives in an America divided—between those who work the mystical arts and those who do not. Ever since the Great Rust, a catastrophic event that blighted the arcane force called the Dynamism and threw America into disarray, the country has been rebuilding for a better future. And everyone knows the future is industry and technology—otherwise known as Mechomancy—not the traditional mystical arts.
Laura disagrees. A talented young mage from Pennsylvania, Laura hopped a portal to New York City on her seventeenth birthday with hopes of earning her mage’s license and becoming something more than a rootworker.
But four months later, she’s got little to show for it other than an empty pocket and broken dreams. With nowhere else to turn, Laura applies for a job with the Bureau of the Arcane’s Conservation Corps, a branch of the US government dedicated to repairing the Dynamism so that Mechomancy can thrive. There she meets the Skylark, a powerful mage with a mysterious past, who reluctantly takes Laura on as an apprentice.
As they’re sent off on their first mission together into the heart of the country’s oldest and most mysterious Blight, they discover the work of mages not encountered since the darkest period in America’s past, when Black mages were killed for their power—work that could threaten Laura’s and the Skylark’s lives, and everything they’ve worked for.
The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin
A lone human ambassador is sent to the icebound planet of Winter, a world without sexual prejudice, where the inhabitants’ gender is fluid. His goal is to facilitate Winter’s inclusion in a growing intergalactic civilization. But to do so he must bridge the gulf between his own views and those of the strange, intriguing culture he encounters…
Embracing the aspects of psychology, society, and human emotion on an alien world, The Left Hand of Darkness stands as a landmark achievement in the annals of intellectual science fiction.
Alanna: The First Adventure, by Tamora Pierce, as well as all the books in the Song of the Lioness series
From now on I’m Alan of Trebond, the younger twin. I’ll be a knight.
And so young Alanna of Trebond begins the journey to knighthood. Though a girl, Alanna has always craved the adventure and daring allowed only for boys; her twin brother, Thom, yearns to learn the art of magic. So one day they decide to switch places: Thom heads for the convent to learn magic; Alanna, pretending to be a boy, is on her way to the castle of King Roald to begin her training as a page.
But the road to knighthood is not an easy one. As Alanna masters the skills necessary for battle, she must also learn to control her heart and to discern her enemies from her allies.
We would love to read more stories with genderfluid representation – tell us about the ones you’ve read!