Publication Date:

May 2023



Original language and publisher

English (USA) | Astra House

Territories Handled

World excl. North America


Short Stories


  • CALIBA Octavia E. Butler award (finalist)
  • Colorado Book Awards Short Story 2024 (finalist)



I have been waiting for this sumptuous, prismatic collection for literal years. Theodore McCombs is a poet of queer pasts, presents, and futures, and Uranians is a formidable debut. — Carmen Maria Machado, author of Her Body and Other Parties

If you like stories that linger, that turn over again and again in your mind after you’ve read them, then this is your book. Such a delight to have discovered this innovative and brilliant new voice. Such a delight to urge you to the same discovery. —Karen Joy Fowler, author of The Jane Austen Book Club

The whole collection hangs together as form and content, mind and heart. Beautiful work. — Kim Stanley Robinson, author of The Ministry For the Future

There’s a certain pleasure to reading a writer that has mastered his craft. Every beautifully-constructed, razor-sharp story in this collection is an arrow on a perfect path. Theodore McCombs never misses. — Cadwell Turnbull, author of No Gods, No Monsters

“One enters Uranians like a trap door into an alternate reality, but slowly the stories reveal themselves as an uncanny valley not far from where we actually stand. With great intelligence, beautiful prose, and a keen eye for our deep-seated anxieties, McCombs draws worlds—past, present, and future—in which capitalism-assisted technologies and patriarchy-induced paranormalities have taken control, rendering us unrecognizable to one another. These are extraordinary tales of anti-heroes in post-apocalyptic and macabre landscapes who must battle systems to find their liberation and in the process illuminate our own. McCombs has written an absorbing and thought-provoking debut collection. — Alejandro Varela, National Book Award finalist and author of The Town of Babylon

Exquisite, unsettling, richly felt stories, in which both tenderness and the possibility of estrangement open up doors to the fantastic and the surreal. — Kelly Link, Pulitzer Prize finalist and author Get in Trouble

Playful and provocative . . . McCombs’s mix of heart and zany ideas is often reminiscent of George Saunders. Readers will find plenty of earthy and unearthly delights. —Publishers Weekly

“There is not an out-of-place word anywhere in these 207 pages . . . I’m hereby telling anyone who enjoys short fiction, queer fiction, or speculative fiction to go read this right now.” — Sophie Gorjance, MetaStellar

Uranians is an extensively researched, expertly crafted fever-dream delight.” —Lisa Zhuang, Electric Literature

For readers of Ted Chiang and Karen Russell, a genre-defying debut story collection that explores the essential role of queerness in this and every other possible world.

At the end of the Victorian era, a handful of forward-thinking public intellectuals advocated for societal tolerance of the “Uranian”—a man who loved other men—wondering if these “intermediate sexes” might in fact constitute totally different beings, even hopeful guides toward the future.

The six stories in Theodore McComb’s kaleidoscopic debut span several possible worlds, teasing the boundaries between coexisting realities and taking up the question of queer difference from one surprising vantage after another. In “Towards a Theory of Alternative Lifestyles,” a heartbroken young man stands in line at an exclusive underground gay nightclub promising visions of parallel lives across the multiverse. In “Ora et Labora,” an adolescent novice at a Gothic monastery is forced to labor slavishly over math problems for the good of society entire. In Boston, at the turn of a very different 20th century, a domineering matron-cum-hangman feels that if you want things done right, you’ll just have to do them yourself. Finally, in the titular novella “Uranians,” an expedition of queer artists, scientists, and one transgender priest are on a lifelong interplanetary voyage that requires them to renegotiate their connections to a remote and hostile Earth, while keeping their ship’s biome alive in the harsh void of space.


Marketing Information

  • For fans of queer fiction with genre elements: Carmen Maria Machado, Morgan Thomas, Helen Oyeyemi.
  • For readers of high-concept literary fiction with allegorical criticisms of society: Ted Chiang, Nana Adjei-Brenyah, Karen Russell.
  • For readers of speculative fiction about climate catastrophe like Jeff Vandermeer and Black Mirror–esque parables about tech like The Circle by Dave Eggers
  • Made it onto the Publishers Lunch “Buzz Books” Commercial Fiction.
  • Included in the Orange County Register roundup “Put these 10 books from local authors on your must-read list” and in the Oxfam America Pride Month reading list
  • Featured in the Bay Times “Lit Snax” column published on August 10, 2023
  • Featured on the Book Riot list of 12 queer books from the first half of 2023 that you might have missed published on August 17, 2023
  • Reviewed by Annelie Hyatt in the Columbia Journal of Literary Criticism
  • Included on the Electric Literature list of the must-read short story collections of 2023 published on August 25, 2023
  • Recommended reading for Aquarians in the them queer weekly horoscopes published on August 26, 2023
  • Interviewed on Anthony Oliveira’s podcast, The Devil’s Party available on August 24, 2023
  • Featured on the Locus 2023 recommended reading list published on February 1, 2024
  • Called by Gerardo Sámano Córdova “absolutely wonderful” on the Books Are Magic podcast
  • Sierra Greer recommended a story from Uranians on her list of seven stories of robot-human relationships for Literary Hub