Words: Brian Lenord; Images: supplied
LGBTQ literature finds itself in a healthy state in 2021, but when it comes to sci-fi, gay voices and stories remain sadly under-represented.
Proving that LGBTQ and sci-fi fiction doesn't have to be an either or situation is British-American author Duncan J Brown, whose debut novel Reintroduction imagines a darkly dystopian future through the eyes of a gay male protagonist.
Reintroduction - released last week on Amazon in paperback and via Kindle - tells the story of Robert Corrigan, a 'Worker' in a despotic future London where society is divded between Workers, 'Non-workers' - or 'Nons' and those who are judged to be subversive altogether, 'Transients'.
With shadowy figures in full control of this hellish new world and disappearances a regular occurance, Robert is charged with managing a mysterious programme, 'Project Egret'.
An official synopsis teases: "Immortality may be no more than a corporate dream but if you’re not careful you’ll awake to an even worse nightmare."
Author Duncan J Brown was born in the UK in 1968 before moving to Massachusetts when he was four, later returning to London to study at Goldsmith's University in the late '80s.
Reintroduction is Brown's "first fully realised novel", and the author says that while current ecologicial and political crises inspired him to explore a dystopian future, the story is shaped by his experiences of state oppression as a gay man in the late 20th century.
"The world today is as frightening as the one I endured as a traumatised gay adolescent", he says.
"It has the same level of dread for me as the London of the '80s and '90s. Surviving the Aids epidemic and legislation that effectively recriminalised homosexuality left me with a reflexive mistrust of power structures."
He continues: "I was driven by current ecological and political situations to write something that spoke to me personal dread. Dystopia seemed a good vehicle for considering what might be if we do not take heed of various warning signs.
"As I watch the planet I so dearly love and appreciate being abused, possible damaged beyond repair, I feel driven to provoke discussion. I have no answers, only questions. I am not seeking to proselytise or evangelise a solution but simply to tell a story that feels relevant."
With LGBTQ book lovers increasingly wanting to see themselves reflected in stories that break out of the traditional 'queer fiction' box, Brown hopes Reintroduction will appeal to gay readers' sensibilities while still providing a thrilling sci-fi tale.
"I think that for many LGBTQ readers, memories of the Aids epidemic of the '80s and '90s will be one lens via which Reintroduction may resonate", he explains.
"It is also my belief that Corrigan, my central character is a gay man with flaws and issues like most people. He is presented warts and all and it is his relevance to the story rather than his being gay that hopefully makes him identifiable."
Reintroduction is out now on Amazon in paperback and via Kindle.