Queer*Welten 02/2020

Queer*Welten is a queer-feminist fantasy and scifi magazine, edited by Judith Vogt, Kathrin Dodenhoeft and Lena Richter. Issue 2 contains three short stories, a comic and an essay.
Finished on: 22.6.2021
[Here’s my review of the first issue.]

Queer*Welten again offers us a broad range of what SFF has to offer, though in this issue, I think I liked the essay best. The three stories weren’t bad, but just didn’t work for me as well as the essay. The comic that was included isn’t actually part of the SFF spectrum, but it fits the mission of the magazine, so I didn’t mind that. Looking forward to the next issue.

The magazine cover showin five planets painted in the colors of different ride flags. Two entirely black hands, barely noticeable in front of the universe background, are juggling the planets.

Was der Krieg frisst [What War Eats] (Rafaela Creydt)

Content Note: ableism [the magazine has extensive Content Notes, I include only those I talk about in more detail here]

Ansha Wah is the Mother of War, a warrior and nothing else. No man has dared approach her – until an archer asks her to dance.

I did like this story for the most part, but its inclusion of blindness troubled me. Ansha Wah’s archer gets blinded as an attack on/punishment for her. Disability as some kind of punishment, be it magical or godly, is one of the big ableist tropes and while the archer insists that he can live very well without without his sight, this didn’t counteract the problems for me. Especially since she sees his love for her exclusively in his gaze on her (would that mean that blind people can’t love? And how does that fit in with the notion of the male gaze?). Depsite that “disability as metaphor” thing, I did enjoy reading the story, though. I don’t know if it would have worked for me if it had been longer, but at its short length, it was fine.

Tradtitionen [Traditions] (Sarah Burrini)

In this four-panel comic Burrini tackles the racism that hides in so-called traditions and that white people are unwilling to give up (supposedly) for tradition’s sake, and combines it with the labor that means for BIPOC who have to explain the same things over and over again.

The point is well-made and the drawings are expressive. I really enjoyed this small interlude.

Held*innengeschichten [Hero*ine Stories] (Aşkın-Hayat Doğan)

Sophie’s grandfather wants to encourage Sophie to send in a story for a contest, but they are only looking for Hero Stories and not Heroine Stories, so Sophie doesn’t want to do it.

Held*innengeschichten is so short, it’s almos a vignette and not a short story. Either way, it is a sweet, quick read. Maybe a tad on the nose, but since we really do have to make the same points over and over again (see above), I didn’t mind that the story keeps things simple.

Sagittarius A* (Elena L. Knödler)

Lah is a historian on a spacestation where humanity is always on the brink of seeing the last generation. Lah is about to be promoted, but the arrival of a new ship makes Lah hesitate about her profession.

Sagittarius A* is one of very few stories set in a future where the gender binary is actually over and done with. That means we get gender-inclusive language throughout the story, as well as neopronouns. That was nice to read. The story itself, though, didn’t strike a chord with me. Maybe because I’m no big history aficionado myself (not that I think it isn’t important, I just never found it particularly interesting for myself).

Von Orks, Briten und dem Mythos der Kriegerrassen [Orcs, Britons and the Martial Race] (James Mendez Hodes)

In the second part of this two-part essay (a translation of this article), Mendez Hodes tackles the arrival of orcs in the USA, and then delves into how racist, dehumanizing depictions of fantasy races leads to dehumanization of actual people (of color). And he shows some ways how those things can be avoided.

I already liked the first part, but I liked this part even more – especially because it captures so nicely why representation matters and why a BIPOC might still opt to play an orc, despite all the problematic racial coding. The translation wasn’t always perfect (there is one part, for example, where a phrase from a quote is repeated in the text, only that it is translated two different ways), but nothing big, from what I can tell. Altogether, an insightful essay.

Summarizing: the first issue may have been overall stronger, but this one is still good.

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