R. B. Lemberg’s SCKA 2023 nominee THE UNBALANCING has it all – complex diverse characters, a unique magical system, and so much more

Even more love for R. B. Lemberg’s THE UNBALANCING with a Subjective Chaos Kind of Award (SCKA) 2023 for Best Fantasy Award nomination (as reported by Aquavenatus), inclusion in the Autostraddle list Eight Books Across Genres on Queer Autistic Experiences, and reviews from MI Book Reviews and Reading Reality.

It’s time foe the Subjective Chaos Kind of Awards for 2023! I was asked to be a judge again; and, this year will be the 3rd year I’ve participated in this speculative awards with other bookbloggers. I’m very excited about this year’s awards and nominees!

Best Fantasy Novel

Spear by Nicola Griffith
The Spear Cuts Through Water by Simon Jimenez
The Book Eaters by Sunyi Dean
Nettle & Bone by T. Kingfisher
Swallow:Efunsetan Aniwura by Ayodele Olofintuade
The Bone Orchard by Sara A. Mueller

Subjective Chaos Kind of Award (visit site for category nominees)

One of Autostraddle’s best books of last year, this fantasy novel set in Lemberg’s acclaimed Birdverse features world-building deeply rooted in neurodiversity, queerness, nonbinary identity, and transness. The story follows two lovers, a poet and a starkeeper, as they simultaneously fall for each other while their island home approaches a fated doom. (As you might guess from that description, THE UNBALANCING is a loose retelling of the Atlantis myth). This fantasy book really has it all, from complex diverse characters, a unique magical system, careful explorations of the intersections of queer and neurodivergent identities, romance, lyrical writing, and more!


At this point Lemberg could just scream and I would probably find it fascinating. They are an amazing creator. Their world is fantastic. I hate magic, because it seems so uncontrolled and saves the day too easily. This book has wild magic, but it isn’t what saves the day (though this is not a spoiler in the way you are thinking, because magic very much does play a major role in the ending.)

One of my favorite parts of this is the way gender and sexuality work. There are so many genders that are just accepted. There is no real fight or discussion. They just are.

MI Book Reviews

The more I read of the Birdverse, the more fascinated I become with this fantastic and fantastical place. The story in THE UNBALANCING is complete in and of itself, but it hints at depths that I found myself wishing I knew better. In other words, I loved it AND I wanted more. And I found it in Geometries of Belonging: Stories & Poems from the Birdverse, a collection of many of the foundational stories of this marvelous place. I’m looking forward to diving in and learning that MORE – and soon!

Reading Reality