The Seafarer’s Kiss by Julia Ember (B, f/f)
Love Rising by Piper Vaughn (m/m)
Sea Lover by J.K. Pendragon (T, m/m)
Ice Massacre by Tiana Warner (f/f)
Moon-Bright Tides by RoAnna Sylver (f/f)
I am delighted to be here on LGBTQ Reads to perform one of my favourite activities: recommend aromantic fiction. This post contains recs for stories featuring at least one major aromantic characters, and I’ve read and enjoyed all of them. But since I like to spice things up a bit, all of these stories are presented in length order, covering a range from flash fiction to epic fantasy novels. Pick your favourite length, and enjoy!
Flash fiction | Link | Spectrum Lit
Two aromantic spectrum singers renegotiate the shape of their queerplatonic partnership through an unique concert.
Why read it? It feels wrong to start with my own story, but if you’re looking for a free and quick read online featuring aromantic representation, this is a great place to start.
Short story | Myriad Lands Volume II | Guardbridge Books
An aro-ace necromancer resurrects their best friend, a trans man, allowing them to continue both their friendship and their games.
Why read it? This is a powerful piece about the importance of friendship, second chances, and death. It’s also set in a fantasy Middle East city, and provides much needed rep for non-white aromantic characters.
Want more? I also recommended two aromantic short stories over at The Future Fire that are available online for free.
Novelette (ish) | Link | LT3 Press
Louisa is a village girl dreading her coming wedding, but thankfully a dragon’s assault is delaying it. When Dea, an aro-ace dragon hunter, comes to town, Louisa’s life takes a strange new turn.
Why read it? Faerie Godmother twists fantasy tropes of dragons and princesses in new and interesting ways while developing a deep relationship between a lesbian and an aromantic women. This is *almost* the length of a novella.
Novella | Link | LT3 Press
When Danny Kim, lead singer of a small indie band, discovers that his accounting TA is none other than the man he rudely hit on at his last show, he is mortified. Yet it doesn’t stop him from reaching out to Jiyoon, and Danny soon juggles music, classes, and his deepening relationship.
Why read it? Danny’s aromanticism is clearly established and not the source of tension through the story. Both leads are Korean-American, and the story has some adorable domestic scenes mixed in with the sex. And hey, it’s my only contemporary rec! (I read more SFF, if you couldn’t tell)
Short Novel | Link | The Kraken Collective
Four-year-old Eiryn is dealing with the grief from her mother’s death, but she still wants to make everyone around her happy. Her aro-ace uncle, Arén, might not be the best parent, but he’s determined to protect her from accusations of upsetting the world’s balance.
Why read it? This is a quiet and powerful story that favours characters over plot, has incredible worldbuilding, and an absolutely lovely cast. Read also for the aromantic character who’s happy with his single life.
Novel | Link | Self-published
As a new angel, Iofiel must attend the angel-demon university. When she meets Archie, an imp bullied by his peers, she decides to change major for demon classes… and might have inadvertently triggered the Apocalypse in the process.
Why Read it? Beyond the delightful characters and queer universe? Iofiel frequently questions her asexuality and aromanticism throughout the story, and I cannot remember seeing another questioning ace or aro character on page.
Long Novel | Chameleon Moon Book 2 | Self-published
Three teenagers must cross a ghost-stricken wasteland on a motorcycle to deliver life-saving data to an airship and its crew.
Why Read it? For the absolute amazingness of Anh “Annie” Minh Le and her adaptive outfit: armour that doubles as braces for her hypermobility, an helmet to help manage sensory overload, and a jacket with shifting studs that can allow for more expression when she becomes non-verbal. You’ll need to read Chameleon Moon to fully appreciate The Lifeline Signal, but both are incredible work of positive queer and disabled representation.
Long Novel | Link | Angry Robot
When Saffron steps through a strange portal, she finds herself in the middle of political upheavals she can barely grasp. Thankfully, she has another world walker from Earth by her side: Gwen Vere, who is both aromantic and in a polyamorous relationship.
Why read it? Besides the neatly-woven tale of fantasy epic? An Accident of Stars depicts an older aromantic character confident about herself, who has built a family, and shows great care for Saffron and others.
Is prose a difficult medium for you? Several online webcomics also include aromantic representation and are available for free! Funnily enough, both of my recs have to do with fey.
Mistland is a fairly new webcomic by Laya Rose, one of my favourite artist out there, about “Es, a half fey girl from a small New Zealand town, suddenly gets caught up in the world of the sidhe – which are a whole lot closer than she realised.” The cast is almost exclusively arospec and acespec women!
Ignition Zero is a completed webcomic by Noel Arthur Heimpel, about a group of queer friends defending their fey companions, Ivory, and getting mixed up in fey and spirits! One of the main character is an aromantic man and in a queerplatonic relationship!
And there you go! Ten wildly different stories with aromantic characters for you to enjoy. I hope everyone can find something to their taste in there, and if you know other good stories with aromantic representation (especially contemporary!) please don’t hesitate to share with us!
Claudie Arseneault is an asexual and aromantic-spectrum writer hailing from the very-French Québec City. Claudie is best known for the Aromantic and Asexual Characters in SFF Database and for her body of work, which features several ace and aro characters. Her latest novel, City of Strife, is the first of a political fantasy trilogy released in February. Find out more on her website!
I am so psyched today to bring you this guest post by asexuality authors and advocates Claudie Arseneault and Lynn O’Connacht, bringing some stellar recs for ace SFF. They’ve got plenty of wisdom on the subject between the two of them, so I’m just gonna tiptoe off and let them take it away! (But not before reminding you that you can obviously also find great ace stories by supporting these two authors; links to their websites are in their bios at the end of the post!)
On August 11, 2017, Every Heart a Doorway, the most visible traditionally published story with explicit asexual representation won the Hugo Awards for Best Novella and, with it, a clean sweep of SFF’s most prestigious awards. Yet the discussions we’ve seen surrounding asexual representation in fiction since Every Heart a Doorway was published usually seem to ignore many great stories with asexual representation. There is so much more out there, and a lot of what’s out there is ownvoices.
Asexual indie and short story writers have been producing a wealth of stories involving ace spectrum characters for years now, and it’s always a pleasure to share their work. These are talented folks who tend to go unnoticed, but their stories are varied and gut-wrenching. We can only hope that the light shined on asexual representation by Every Heart a Doorway will reach other deserving authors.
As ace spectrum readers and indie author the idea that there are only a handful of books that include characters on the asexual spectrum out there hurts so much. True, there aren’t anywhere near as many as we would like, but there’s so much more out there than these discussions suggest. We’ve selected just five stories that we feel are similar to Every Heart a Doorway not just because they feature ace-spec characters, but also because we feel that the story has some overlap with narrative elements in McGuire’s novella. All of the authors on this list are ownvoices and somewhere on the asexual spectrum. We hope you’ll enjoy the books!
Nkásht íí by Darcie Little Badger is a short story rather than a novel or a novella, but if you’re looking for something that captures that sense of eeriness and creepiness that’s at the core of Every Heart a Doorway‘s mystery plot, you’ll love this. The story follows two Lipan Apache friends as they try to unravel the mystery behind a car crash, and the family a man lost in it. Josie, the narrator, is aromantic and asexual. If you wanted a more in-depth look at a ‘death world’ like Nancy visited, Nkásht íí also has you covered. It’s deliciously scary and invites rereading to gather more of what’s happening in the text.
The Traitor’s Tunnel by C.M. Spivey may seem like a strange book to recommend to readers of Every Heart a Doorway, as its heart is more caper-heist than gruesome mystery, but readers will find that the mystery Theo gets drawn into by his sister has some very dark undertones. Together, he and Bridget will have to discover who is the traitor who’s been abducting orphan children from the streets and why. Readers looking for a panromantic asexual lead in an established and adorable relationship will love the representation in this book. (Blogger’s Note: You can read an excerpt of The Traitor’s Tunnel here!)
Good Angel by A.M. Blaushild is a great pick if you were disappointed by the way Every Heart a Doorway stopped following Nancy’s attempts to adapt to life in our realm and make friends at school. In Good Angel, Iofiel is a newly created angel who goes off to university to become a guardian angel, but after deciding to help an imp with his studies, she finds herself unsure of her place in the world. Good Angel is the first novel in a humorous duology, and features a curious angel who isn’t quite sure where she fits onto the spectrums of asexuality and aromanticism. It features classes, studying and making friends with people who the environment of the school finds… a little less than ideal.
Stake Sauce by RoAnna Sylver is an urban fantasy webserial/novel and will appeal to readers of McGuire’s work in general. Like, Every Heart a Doorway it’s got several unexpected twists (which we won’t spoil, of course!). Jude is a demiromantic asexual former firefighter with PTSD, and no one believes him when he insists there are vampires about until he meets Pixie, an adorable punk vampire who needs help with bigger, meaner vampires. In turns weird, dark, and delightfully hopeful, Stake Sauce contains one secret ingredient… love. No, really!
The Stake Sauce webserial runs on Patreon and the full story will be released as an ebook on October 31, 2017.
Fourth World by Lyssa Chiavari is a YA science fiction novel with two protagonists on the asexual spectrum. Nadin is asexual and sex-repulsed and Isaak is demisexual. We recommend this one for its at-times punch-in-the-gut representation of asexuality, and because much like Every Heart a Doorway it features teens trying to solve a mystery (a Mars archeology one!) and two distinct worlds, so if you enjoyed the idea of portal fantasy set forth this explores such a narrative in more depth. Nadin and Isaak are worlds and years apart, but when Isaak finds an ancient coin, they’ll have to work together to save both their planets.
And there you have it. Five stories that feature asexual characters just as prominently as Every Heart a Doorway does and that also have narrative overlap for you to enjoy. These aren’t all the asexual stories out there by a long shot. If you’d like a larger range of options or more detailed information on the representation in the stories we mentioned, check out Claudie’s database of asexual and aromantic characters in SFF. If you’d like non-SFF recommendations (or recs for games and tv/film as well) as well, there’s also Fuck Yeah Asexual’s database here. Happy reading!
Claudie Arseneault is an asexual and aromantic-spectrum writer hailing from the very-French Québec City. Her stories focus on non-romantic relationships and often feature large queer casts. The latest, City of Strife, is the first of a political fantasy trilogy released in February. Find out more on her website!
Lynn O’Connacht has an MA in English literature and creative writing, but wouldn’t call herself an authority on either. She currently resides on the European continent and her idiom and spelling are, despite her best efforts, geographically confused, poor things. Her latest book is a companion collection to her asexual retelling of The Little Mermaid, Sea Foam and Silence. Find out more on her website!