Have you ever thought to yourself, “Self, I love science fiction, if only more of it were queer-themed, just good old-fashioned science fiction fun with aliens and laser battles and cool science-fictional devices, but also with really interesting queer protagonists and maybe some beautiful prose so rhythmic it could be half-sung to jazz music in a hipster poetry cafe?” Look no further! Check out Spaceman Blues by Brian Francis Slattery immediately.
The basic premise: Wendell Apogee’s boyfriend is a party-24-7 kinda guy, close personal friends with half the population of New York City and a good portion of the rest of the world to boot. So when he disappears, nobody even notices for the first twenty-six hours. “Everybody thinks he’s with someone else, like that time he went to the Phillipines and everyone thought he was in Jersey. He never answers his telephone anyway, they say.” But then his apartment explodes, and Wendell starts to think there might be something odd about Manuel’s disappearance. It couldn’t have anything to do with those alien robots or the cult that’s prophesized the end of the world based on complex astronomical analyses, could it?
Wendell’s quest to find his lost lover is an amazing tour de force of the many cultures of New York City – both real and imagined – taking him from cockfights to flying garbage trucks to evil alien invaders to the secret worlds beneath the subway. But ultimately of course it’s a story about human connection, about figuring out how to love yourself and others in a world that’s all kinds of crazy. One of the best books I’ve read this year.