All that Glitters…
A review of A.C. Wise’s “The Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron Saves the World Again” (Lethe Press, 2015)
By Derek Newman-Stille
A.C. Wise’s “The Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron Saves the World Again” is as beautifully, sparklingly camp as the title suggests, mixing elements from raygun sci fi with a drag aesthetic. Whether drag queens, trans women, or cis-gendered women, the heroines in Wise’s novel are FIERCE. Whether fighting homophobia and misogyny at home or amongst the stars, The Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron challenges assumptions and pushes for change. These characters are complex, powerful, and absolutely fabulous!
Escaping from different problematic home environments and desiring a change, The Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron create a diverse family of people who have sought to find themselves and have discovered a safe space to be who they are and kick but while being themselves.
A.C. Wise combines images that are normally not associated in science fiction – drag and battle. Fiction often presents the figure of the drag queen as passive and powerless despite the fact that many drag performers have had to fight for every bit of respect and safety they have earned. Wise recognizes that drag communities are in perpetual struggles, perpetual battles to make space for themselves in a world that either erases or fetishises them. There is a FIERCE power in the figure of the drag queen, a figure who resists the control of normativity and is willing to challenge the powers of heteronormativity by being fabulous in public, by meeting the gaze of those who would judge and staring back. The Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron transforms the fear they experience into strength, looking for opportunities to empower themselves and others.
The Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron, this assemblage of mighty, modern glamazons, is not only made up of drag queens but also trans women and cis-gendered women, uniting in the expression of the power of femininity and unwilling to be disempowered by patriarchy or heteronormativity. These women challenge the way that society presents femininity to us, the audience, and express new ideals of feminine beauty, expression, power, and resistance… and they do it all without casting shade on one another.
Despite all of the glitter, one shouldn’t assume that this is a fluffy book… well, it does feature a character named Bunny…. but this book combines the power of playful, glittery, shiny fun with messages of empowerment and working together as women of diverse backgrounds to challenge assumptions and re-make the world. “The Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron Saves the World Again” is as clever as it is campy.
This is definitely a read that you want to have next to a disco ball, wearing your finest, glitteriest frock, with a martini in hand. Prepare yourself to read some DRAG ’em out battles.
To discover more about A.C. Wise, visit her website at http://www.acwise.net
To find out more about “The Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron Saves the World Again” and other Lethe Press titles, visit their website at http://www.lethepressbooks.com