Book Review

On a Sunbeam by Tillie Walden

Genre | Science Fiction Graphic Novel
Page #s | 533
Publishing Date | May 2018

Throughout the deepest reaches of space, a crew rebuilds beautiful and broken-down structures, painstakingly putting the past together. As new member Mia gets to know her team, the story flashes back to her pivotal year in boarding school, where she fell in love with a mysterious new student. Soon, though, Mia reveals her true purpose for joining their ship—to track down her long-lost love.

An inventive world, a breathtaking love story, and stunning art come together in this new work by award-winning artist Tillie Walden.

Goodreads

Do you remember the moment when you realized that there are no women in The Hobbit? It was strange, right, because the story felt so natural and complete. Well, I’m here to offer you the exact opposite: On a Sunbeam, a science fiction graphic novel in which there are absolutely no men. It took me awhile to realize, since I assumed the story was simply focused on a queer group of construction workers, one of whom had flashbacks to her time at an all-female boarding school. But as we see more of the world, I’m pretty sure there are just…no men. Only women and nonbinary people allowed!

It’s awesome, especially since the story revolves around the aforementioned construction crew (that works on giant floating buildings in a glorious tribute to “my sci-fi is cool rather than realistic”) and a mob boss family that protects an isolated planet of magical healing energy. Traditionally male playgrounds, but they aren’t missed here. Instead, we get to explore sisterhood, both biologically and found. The families here are hard won and well deserved, and I loved reading every page.

What Makes This Book Queer?

There are multiple sapphic romances in this book, from the lesbians who run the construction crew and must re-evaluate how they want to spend their lives together after an excitingly dangerous phase of getting to know each other. There’s a nonbinary character on the crew, and interestingly, the lack of men in this world doesn’t mean a lack of discrimination. Elliot’s pronouns are defended in a stand-up-and-clap scene that is a lesson to all feminists. And at the heart of the story is the slow burn / cut short / reunion romance between our protagonist Mia and the girl who got away back in school.

Who Do I Recommend This Book To?

On a Sunbeam is perfect for anyone who likes a found family narrative set in a gorgeously realized fantasy sci-fi world.

Check out our Queer Lil Library for more book recommendations and reviews!

1 comment on “On a Sunbeam by Tillie Walden

  1. Pingback: I Read 66 Queer Books in 2021! – Roar Cat Reads

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