User Profile

Owen Blacker

Joined 1 year, 4 months ago

Mainly-gay, mainly-Welsh political geek; proud social justice warrior and trans ally. Queering Wikipedia, Open Rights Group, ex-mySociety. he/him. 🌹🇪🇺🏳️‍🌈🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿

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jia qing wilson-yang: Small Beauty (2016) 4 stars

Small Beauty tells the story of Mei, who in coping with the death of her …

Review of 'Small Beauty' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

A lovely, tender, eloquent short novel about a mixed-race trans woman dealing with grief and trauma while discovering hufen truths about her family.

A gorgeous book, with a very matter-of-fact approach to the queerphobia she experiences, without focussing or dwelling on that pain.

Harry Nicholas: Trans Man Walks into a Gay Bar (2023, Kingsley Publishers, Jessica) 5 stars

'On the bookshelves, there was plenty of stuff on being gay, and much needed, joyous …

Review of 'Trans Man Walks into a Gay Bar' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

Harry Nicholas’s first book, an autobiographical work, contains an impressive amount of interesting and considered thought in its 224 pages. At its core, the book is an eloquent narrative of his journey from one relationship to another, with transformative self-discovery in between.

But, of course, it is so much more than that, as any such tale always is. Not least because it is very clear that Harry has thought a great deal about his place in patriarchy — from when he was growing up in what he thought was girlhood, via how he’s been perceived through transition to now, existing and socialising in queer male spaces that are almost always cis-sexist and can often also be misogynistic, with transphobic microaggressions. His thoughts are well-framed and prompt consideration, for example:

Words and labels are incredibly important — I love being gay and trans and wearing those labels with pride — but …
Abraham Riesman: True Believer (2020, Potter/Ten Speed/Harmony/Rodale) 4 stars

The definitive, revelatory biography of Marvel Comics icon Stan Lee, a writer and entrepreneur who …

Review of 'True Believer' on 'Goodreads'

2 stars

Apparently, despite loving Marvel Comics and everything I have previously seen about Stan Lee — especially his dedication to supporting diversity and the underdog — this one was just not for me.

I DNF'd pretty quickly; given it was Hugo-nominated, however, that presumably says ar least as much about me as the book. I think it's myself that I'm disappointed in, tbh.

Eliot Schrefer, Eliot Schrefer: The Darkness Outside Us (Hardcover, 2021, Katherine Tegen Books) 4 stars

Two boys, alone in space.

After the first settler on Titan trips her distress signal, …

Review of 'The Darkness Outside Us' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

This review is incomplete.

Eliot Schrefer kept me gripped with this thriller of two boys in space, made me numb and horrified at parts, and then made me cry happy years at the end.

I will definitely be reading more of his work.

Review of 'Proud Pink Sky' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

An entertaining alternate history focussing on 2 characters who move to The Gay Republic of Berlin, 50 years after the lesbian and gay (sic) enclave founded by UN resolution in 1948 at the end of a slightly different World War 2.

We follow queer teens William and Gareth as they flee a UK even more homophobic than ours was — whereas in their reality, there was no Wolfenden Report leading to (partial) decriminalisation of sex between men in 1967 and all the queer big names fled to Berlin, in ours my first Pride was in 1994, the era of New Queer Cinema and the year Priscilla was released; in our reality the 1998 setting saw the launch of Will & Grace and plenty of queer films, even if they were indies we had to seek out in the specialist sections of large film and music stores, like Bishonen (美少年之恋), …

Andrew Joseph White: Hell Followed with Us (2022, Peachtree Publishing Company Inc., Peachtree Teen) 4 stars

Benji, un chico trans de dieciséis años, huye de la secta que lo crio, una …

Review of 'Hell Followed with Us' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

All the content notes needed here — the 16yo trans protagonist escapes a Christofascist cult that released a genetically-engineered plague that has killed most of the world and has himself been infected to transform him into a tool of their god’s wrath and deliverance. There is physical and emotional abuse, body-horror, deadnaming, and even shaming about “doing queer wrong”.

But underneath all of this is an entertaining (if horrifying) tale of, as the author puts it “trans kids with claws and fangs, and what happens when they bite back”. I’m not sure I’d want to offer this much body horror and religious trauma as a present to a queer young adult, but I’m sure I’d’ve devoured it as a queer teen myself, so I should prolly just get over myself.

Cadwell Turnbull: No Gods, No Monsters (Hardcover, 2021, Blackstone Publishing) 4 stars

One October morning, Laina gets the news that her brother was shot and killed by …

Review of 'No Gods, No Monsters' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

Really enjoyed this, despite some occasional confusion as a first-person narrator crops up only occasionally (for reasons that are later made clear), exacerbated by devouring this while recovering from Covid. The ways in which Turnbull tells us barely enough about his characters is thoroughly enticing and the otherness-yet-normality of both the queer characters and the monsters is entirely convincing and familiar to me as a queer reader. And the way Turnbull ratchets up the tension leading in towards the climax of this first book had me entirely gripped. I’m definitely looking forward to the continuation of The Convergence Saga.