The Best Gay Science Fiction Novel Ever

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Also on this website:

Toby Johnson's books:

GAY SPIRITUALITY: The Role of Gay Identity in the Transformation of Human Consciousness

GAY PERSPECTIVE: Things Our Homosexuality Tells Us about the Nature of God and the Universe

SECRET MATTER: updated, revised & expanded edition from Lethe Press with Afterword by Mark Jordan

GETTING LIFE IN PERSPECTIVE: A romance novel set in the 1980s and the 1890s.

THE FOURTH QUILL, a novel about attitudinal healing and the problem of evil

TWO SPIRITS: A Story of Life with the Navajo, a collaboration with Walter L. Williams

CHARMED LIVES: Spinning Straw into Gold: Reclaiming Our Queer Spirituality Through Story


About ordering

Books on Gay Spirituality:

White Crane Gay Spirituality Series

  Articles and Excerpts:

Read Toby's review of Samuel Avery's The Dimensional Structure of Consciousness

Funny Coincidence: "Aliens Settle in San Francisco"

The Simple Answer to the Gay Marriage Debate

Why gay people should NOT Marry

Wedding Cake Liberation

Gay Marriage in Texas

What's ironic

Shame on the American People

The "highest form of love"

Second March on Washington

A Bifurcation of Gay Spirituality

 The cause of homosexuality

The origins of homophobia

Q&A about Jungian ideas in gay consciousness

What is homosexuality?

What is Gay Spirituality?

My three messages

What Jesus said about Gay Rights

Queering religion

Common Experiences Unique to Gay Men

The purpose of homosexuality

Interview on the Nature of Homosexuality

What the Bible Says about Homosexuality

Mesosexual Ideal for Straight Men

Varieties of Gay Spirituality

Waves of Gay Liberation Activity

Why Gay Spirituality: Spirituality as Artistic Medium

Easton Mountain Retreat Center

Andrew Harvey & Spiritual Activism

The Gay Spirituality Summit in May 2004 and the  "Statement of Spirituality"

"It's Always About You"

The myth of the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara

Joseph Campbell's description of Avalokiteshvara

Avalokiteshvara at the Baths.

You're Not A Wave

What is Enlightenment?

What is reincarnation?

How many lifetimes in an ego?

Emptiness & Religious Ideas

Experiencing experiencing experiencing

Going into the Light

Meditations for a Funeral

Meditation Practice

The way to get to heaven

Advice to Travelers to India & Nepal

The Danda Nata & goddess Kalika

Nate Berkus is a bodhisattva

John Boswell was Immanuel Kant

The Two Loves

Curious Bodies

What Toby Johnson Believes

The Joseph Campbell Connection

Campbell & The Pre/Trans Fallacy

The Nature of Religion

What's true about Religion

Being Gay is a Blessing

Drawing Long Straws

Freedom of Religion

The Gay Agenda

Gay Saintliness

Gay Spiritual Functions

The subtle workings of the spirit in gay men's lives.

The Sinfulness of Homosexuality

Proposal for a study of gay nondualism

Priestly Sexuality

 "The Evolution of Gay Identity"

"St. John of the Cross &
the Dark Night of the Soul."

 Eckhart's Eye

Let Me Tell You a Secret

Religious Articulations of the Secret

The Collective Unconscious

Driving as Spiritual Practice


Historicity as Myth


No Stealing

Next Step in Evolution

The New Myth

The Moulting of the Holy Ghost

Gaia is a Bodhisattva

The Hero's Journey as archetype

Marian Doctrines: Immaculate Conception & Assumption

Teenage Prostitution and the Nature of Evil

Allah Hu: "God is present here"
Adam and Steve

The Life is in the Blood

Gay retirement and the "freelance monastery"

Seeing with Different Eyes

The mystical experience at the Servites'  Castle in Riverside

The Great Dance according to C.S.Lewis

The Techniques Of The World Saviors

Part 1: Brer Rabbit and the Tar-Baby
Part 2:
The Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara
Part 3:
Jesus and the Resurrection
Part 4:
A Course in Miracles

The Secret of the Clear Light

Understanding the Clear Light

Mobius Strip

Finding Your Tiger Face

How Gay Souls Get Reincarnated

In honor of Sir Arthur C Clarke

Karellen was a homosexual

About Alien Abduction

What are you looking for in a gay science fiction novel?

The D.A.F.O.D.I.L. Alliance

More about Gay Mental Health

Psych Tech Training

The Rainbow Flag

Ideas for gay mythic stories

Kip and Toby, Activists

Toby's friend and nicknamesake Toby Marotta.

Harry Hay, Founder of the gay movement

About Hay and The New Myth

About Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, the first man to really "come out"

About Michael Talbot, gay mystic

About Fr. Bernard Lynch

About Richard Baltzell

About Guy Mannheimer

About David Weyrauch

About Dennis Paddie

About Ask the Fire

About Arthur Evans

About Christopher Larkin

About Sterling Houston

About Michael Stevens

Our friend Tom Nash

Book Reviews

Be Done on Earth by Howard E. Cook

Pay Me What I'm Worth by Souldancer

The Way Out by Christopher L  Nutter
The Gay Disciple by John Henson

Art That Dares by Kittredge Cherry

Coming Out, Coming Home by Kennth A. Burr

Extinguishing the Light by B. Alan Bourgeois

Over Coffee: A conversation For Gay Partnership & Conservative Faith by D.a. Thompson

Dark Knowledge by Kenneth Low

Janet Planet by Eleanor Lerman

The Kairos by Paul E. Hartman

Wrestling with Jesus by D.K.Maylor

Kali Rising by Rudolph Ballentine

The Missing Myth by Gilles Herrada

The Secret of the Second Coming by Howard E. Cook

The Scar Letters: A Novel by Richard Alther

The Future is Queer by Labonte & Schimel

Missing Mary by Charlene Spretnak

Gay Spirituality 101 by Joe Perez

Cut Hand: A Nineteeth Century Love Story on the American Frontier by Mark Wildyr

Radiomen by Eleanor Lerman

Nights at Rizzoli by Felice Picano

The Key to Unlocking the Closet Door by Chelsea Griffo

The Door of the Heart by Diana Finfrock Farrar

Occam’s Razor by David Duncan

Grace and Demion by Mel White

Gay Men and The New Way Forward by Raymond L. Rigoglioso

The Dimensional Stucture of Consciousness by Samuel Avery

The Manly Pursuit of Desire and Love by Perry Brass

Toby's recommendations for Gay Sci-Fi

The best gay sci-fi novel, in my opinion, is David Gerrold's time travel classic The Man Who Folded Himself.

The novel sets up a mind-bending and marvelous hypothesis:  with a time travel device it would be possible to go ahead to tomorrow and meet yourself.

That is what "folding" means.

And when you've folded yourself, of course, it is possible to have sex with yourself and to become your own best friend and lover.

Gerrold's novel explores the implications of such a reality. Underlying the psychological issue of fear of homosexuality (and the whimsical question whether such sex would technically be masturbation and not homosexual intercourse), there's a spiritual and mystical subtext. If everybody in your life is a version of you at a different time in life and/or with different circumstances, maybe YOU are God and the source of it all, the One Being.

A wonderful book, a wonderful exploration of the fantasy of self-love and narcissicism!

The gay angle flows right out of the sci-fi gimmick.

The second best gay sci-fi novel, if you'll pardon my audacity, is my Secret Matter.

What the reader wants is for the sci-fi gimmick and the gay theme of the story to intersect.

As entertaining as, say, a "generation ship" storiy is that includes homosexual activity onboard (The Dark Beyond the Stars by Frank Robinson, for example*), the gay angle of the story doesn't necessarily intersect with the space journey that is the sc-fi gimmick.

"Gay science fiction" sometimes just means a science fiction story with a gay character.

Secret Matter tells the story of a young gay man of the near future who's gotten a job in an architectural firm helping with the rebuilding of San Francisco after the "Big One" earthquake. Coincidentally (?), "Visitors" in space ships show up soon after. And accidentally the young architect intern meets and becomes enamored with one of the Visitors--who curiously have turned out to look just like human beings, though in general more attractive and alluring. Are they really from outer space? Why have they come?

I can't give away the secrets, but the gay connection between the sweet young lovers turns out to be the source of the Visitors' secrecy AND their reason for coming to Earth in the first place.

Secret Matter is a delightful story with a very positive spin on what it means to be gay. And it's a gay-sensitive religion interwoven into the plot.

Gay consciousness, you might say, comes from not taking a bite out of Adam and Eve's apple!

What an enlightenment!

Secret Matter is  also
available for Kindle.

Toby Johnson's meditation on gay sci-fi, titled What Are You Looking For in A Gay Science Fiction Novel?
*While I criticized The Dark Beyond the Stars for not having the sci-fi gimmick tie directly into the gay content of the plot, The Dark Beyond the Stars is a WONDERFUL book. And it does draw certain gay implications about living in all-encompassing gay community as that parallels the enclosed "community" of a spaceship on a generations long journey across galatic distances.

A notion Frank Robinson put out to describe that situation offers a sexual ethic that, I think, would really improve the world and improve individuals' self-image and sense of sexual fulfillment--remembering, of course, to practice safe sex and NOT exchange disease.

The rule on the spaceship was that the first time anybody asks you to have sex with them, you are morally bound to say "yes." The second time they ask, they are morally bound to accept "no" without rancor or judgment.

Such an ethic would cut through looksism and ageism and alter the experience of sex from being one of conquest and importuning to one of shared experience and satisfaction of longing and curiosity. This seems like such a gay/queer/homosexual ideal!

Frank M. Robison's The Dark Beyond the Stars indeed derives a gay-affirming, life-affirming message from its sci-fi gimmick.

The Dark Beyond the Stars won the Gay Sci-Fi Lambda Literary Award in 1992, the year after Secret Matter won (in a tie with Mercedes Lackey's Magic's Price.

Also nominated with Robinson's book in 1992 was Mirage by Perry Brass.

Brass is author of 14 some titles, many of which count as "Gay Sci-fi." Most have spiritual and ethical messages woven into stories often gritty with gay male erotic sexuality.

The intertwining of sexuality and "post-religious/trans-religious" spirituality is a hallmark both of gay thought and of modern science-fiction.

Perry Brass's multitude of books are of interest to anybody who is reading this page.

And, of course, any discussion of great sci-fi has to include Arthur C. Clarke.

(There is a page on this site devoted to Clarke.)

Childhood's End served as a model for me in crafting Secret Matter.

Indeed, I've sometimes thought Childhood's End formed the basis for my own understanding of enlightened spirituality.

I've noted in my non-fiction title The Myth of the Great Secret: An Appreciation of Joseph Campbell that Clarke's novel seems to perfectly parallel the evolutionary spiritual vision of the scientist/mystic Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. And apparently without Clark's knowing of Teilhard's ideas.

And Clarke's The City and the Stars (and its original version called Against the Fall of Night) presents a wonderful high-tech, computer-based version of the Hindu notion of reincarnation. Clarke's sci-fi vision of the future city of Diaspar wonderfully explicates prescientific mystical visions of how consciousness operates.

To Clarke's great acclaim, these novels, though written  half a century ago, are still current and read like they were just written.

Sir Arthur C. Clarke truly is a visionary.
See my article on Childhood's End titled "Karellen was a Homosexual"

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Toby Johnson, PhD is author of eight books: three non-fiction books that apply the wisdom of his teacher and "wise old man," Joseph Campbell to modern-day social and religious problems, three gay genre novels that dramatize spiritual issues at the heart of gay identity, and two books on gay men's spiritualities and the mystical experience of homosexuality. In addition to the novels featured elsewhere in this web site, Johnson is author of IN SEARCH OF GOD IN THE SEXUAL UNDERWORLD and THE MYTH OF THE GREAT SECRET (Revised edition): AN APPRECIATION OF JOSEPH CAMPBELL.

Johnson's Lammy Award winning book GAY SPIRITUALITY: The Role of Gay Identity in the Transformation of Human Consciousness was published in 2000. His Lammy-nominated book  GAY PERSPECTIVE: Things Our Homosexuality Tells Us about the Nature of God and the Universe was published by Alyson in 2003. Both books are available now from Lethe Press.

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