I saw two books listed on NetGalley, and what interested me was that they were asexual and aromantic LGBTQIA stories. I read a lot of mainstream genres and titles, but I’d never refuse to try a book based on the fact that the author was a member of a particular group, religion, or class. I’ve tried a few LGBTQIA in the past, and there seems to be a lot of erotic LGBTQIA stories, that, like their hetero-normative counterparts are real turn-offs for me. I was intrigued to read a sci-fi LGBTQIA story, and Open Skies is an excellent look at sci-fi and LGBTQIA, although I think Open Skies is an excellent story even without the LGBTQIA label.
First things first. Yolande Kleinn does such an excellent job writing the asexual character of Ilsa, and the awkwardness of Kai in response to his feelings for her, I can feel the tension, and I think for a moment I can empathize with asexual people in the same situation.
But the asexual Ilsa is by no means the crux of this story. She just happens to be a character that is asexual. I think that there are a lot of people out there that would give a book labeled as LGBTQIA a chance, but they fear being preached at. Open Skies puts sexuality out there and lets both the reader and the characters just deal with it. No preaching. No attempts at the sinister recruiting or conversions so many people seem to be afraid of. Just. Good. Sci-fi.
And sci-fi allows us to tackle uncomfortable topics under the guise of being on an alien planet far, far away. Star Trek did it in the 60s, and again in the 80s. Questions of racism, sexism, humanism, and the persecution of persons different from the “norm” are why I love science fiction. We can empathize with these characters while they go about their lives doing the things we wish we could do. Gunfight with lasers? Hell, yeah.
As far as sci-fi tropes are concerned, Open Skies is not anything new. There were a few curveballs. Some I predicted, some I did not. When an author can trick me, I love it. The story did feel slow in the beginning, and the pace wasn’t as fast as a lot of sci-fi adventures, but the writing is superb.
I saw that Yolande Kleinn has a few stories published, and I would be interested in other works, especially if those stories are on par with this solid four-star read.