I'm very very glad to see I wasn't the only one bothered by Dust's handling of sexuality, when every other reviewer I've seen seemed to enjoy it. I keep going back to Bear's books because the worldbuilding is so awesome and full of potential, and then I bounce off the characterization and remember why I had a problem with her writing in the first place.
And I am so sick of how I can't think of a single sff novel with a lesbian character, no matter how minor, in which said character doesn't die tragically. Gay men might get to survive after sufficient angst and
I haven't actually seen many reviews that comment on the sexuality aspect of Dust, though one referred to "lesbian chic." I have seen several that felt the characters were distant and unreal, however.
But yes, very very bothered. In Blood and Iron, I was bothered by other aspects of the plot as well, and in Carnival it could almost be excused because the lesbian couple were such background characters. Dust, though, shows a trend I really dislike and am wary of.
I keep going back to Bear's books because the worldbuilding is so awesome and full of potential, and then I bounce off the characterization and remember why I had a problem with her writing in the first place.
I think this may be my problem, too, and I'll just have to accept it. The only one of her novels I liked unreservedly was New Amsterdam. With all the others, there's always a wall that keeps me from enjoyment. Normally not quite as severe a one as it was with Dust.
The Female Man by Joanna Russ has lesbian characters who don't die. But yeah, outside feminist science fiction the number is very small.
SFF titles with lesbians who live: Nicola Griffith's Ammonite and Slow River and Kelley Eskridge's Solitaire. Melissa Scott's Trouble and Her Friends. Um, it's been a while, but I think that James Tiptree, Jr.'s Up the Walls of the World sort of qualifies, for very SFnal values of "living". These are the ones I can think of off the top of my head, but there are others, I'm sure, even if I can't think of specific examples or don't know them. (Tanya Huff, Laurie J. Marks are likely authors.)
Alsy, try the FSF Wiki; this page, for instance, though it doesn't specify whether they live: