From the Sphere list itself:
Michael asked, "Has anyone here read a trilogy by Richard Calder called "Dead Girls," "Dead Boys," "Dead Things"? (St Martin's Griffon)Described as :'This extraordinary trilogy depicts a future gender was that crosses the boundaries of software, wetware, time, and reality itself in its imaginative leaps and bounds. Only love holds the future together in this tale of star-crossed teens whose transformations defy description or imagination. To read the trilogy is to behold a strange new world, one unlike any other.' It's an amazing series that seriously f*cks up gender concepts. Oh - and if you have any love for vampire bitches, then this is also really the book for you."
Heron told us that "SF author Melissa Scott's novel Shadow Man features a future where humanity has experienced a great rise in intersexed births and now has 5 sexes (male, female, hermaphoradite, masculinized female, and feminized male) as well as numerous sexual orientations. Like all her books, it's excellent."
Syela said that "Stone_Butch_Blues should be recommended explicitly, as
perhaps should Left_Hand_of_Darkness despite the human narrator's
anachronistic sexism. Dark_Water's_Embrace [by Stephen Leigh] also
involves third-gendered characters, but I can't recommend it before
finding a copy to read. Le Guin has other writings challenging gender.
In 'A Fisherman of the Inland Sea' (in the book of the same name), gender
is based on parentage rather than sex (although sex still limits marriage
in an unconventional way). I haven't yet read 'The Matter of Seggri,'
where males are so few that they are kept in castles (reverse harems).
It's in the Tiptree Award (science fiction or fantasy that explores and
expands the roles of women and men) anthology Flying_Cups_and_Saucers
which I'll order Real Soon Now. Gethenians turn up in a few of Le Guin's
other stories as well....
While I'm on the subject, has anyone read Nancy Springer's Larque_on_the_Wing? It's an urban fable about a married woman transformed into a young man who remains attracted to men. It's well-regarded (a Tiptree winner, and on Gary Bowen's recommended list), but out of print; someone who's come across a copy might want to recommend it (or not)."
Ryan said, "I work in a small indie book store and in the latest catalog
from Rutgers I saw what looks to be a really good book if it is something
anyone would be interested in. It's called _Pretty in Punk_ and the little
blurb about it described it as being about punk women's changing gender
roles within the typically masculine punk community.
I just saw the little ad for it but it looked to be a pretty good book, if anyone in a larger city than the smalltown I'm stuck in till May sees it, drop me a line and tell me if it looks worth trying to order it."
Psyche said, "I'm reading 'Dick for a Day,' an anthology edited by Fiona Giles, featuring women writers on the theme of what they would do with the opposite anatomy. I bought it thinking it was a humor type book, but it is VERY thought provoking. Most of the writers are straight women, but there are good pieces by Pat Califia and Poppy Z. Brite as well. It's amazing how many different takes they have come up with. (Of course, I have to read it little by little, since I keep getting, um, distracted... ;)"
Joell wrote, "Also, maybe someone out there can help me out--I read a short story, no doubt in an anthology somewhere, since I don't read magazine fiction as a rule, and I can't remember anything about where I read it, what it was called, who wrote it. It was a science fiction deal, set in a future where anyone can change their gender any time they want. The operation is some procedure that's less complicated than a nose job is these days." Syela said, "This is John Varley's motif; the story in question might be 'Options.' Being yet another award-winning gender-blurring SF piece that is out-of-print, I haven't read it and can't be certain that's the one."
Joell Smith wrote, "Couple books I haven't seen recommended by anyone else yet ...for Yule my sweetie gave me a copy of _GenderFlex_, an anthology of short fiction edited by Cecilia Tan. Includes stories by Gary Bowen and Raven Kaldera (Kaldera's story had my boy bouncing all over the car as he read it to me on our holiday road trip). Haven't read all the stories yet, but we are enjoying it tremendously."
Pae Towon replied, "Cecilia Tan is the owner and chief editor of Circlet Press, which is located at www.circlet.com. I HIGHLY recommend her entire line of books; Circlet is officially a "BGLT scifi/fantasy erotica" press, but carries many other fiction and nonfiction books. _GenderFlex_ is a fave of mine, but my absolute favorite pieces are in another Circlet Press work, S/M Pasts. Raven Kaldera's short story about TG S/M love in ancient Gaul: _Gallae_, is uniformly fabulous, and I also adore the (nonTG) _Gonar's Saga_, about two men in the arena (this piece is the only truly 'fantasy' piece in S/M Pasts, set in some distant, fantasy world that feels like Roma crossed with Babylon). Hot, hot stuff. And check out Cecilia's own book, _Black Feathers_... Whew. If you need something stimulating to read, Circlet Press is the place to get it. And for a fun genderf*ck, read Samuel R. Delany's _Triton_. I read it whenever I went camping with the Boy Scouts when I was little. It is, IMHO, Delany's best work, as it is much, much more readable, interesting, and plot-driven than his earlier works, and includes 2 precious essays at the end. Delany screws with everything - while the part where the narrator gets a sex-change on the way home from work one day because he thinks (stress: _thinks!_) the love of his life is uninterested in him because she's a lesbian is great, the part where he dryly 'slips in' little comments that totally turn the assumptions of the reader on their head are the best. Like where he says some line about 'it was your run-of-the-mill plot: girl falls in love, girl loses love, girl masturbates for a half-an-hour while singing a snow epic in the love-interest's jeep.' I wish I had the cite here ..."
Joell again: "If you like the fantasty/horror arena, Clive Barker's _Imajica_ has a major character who is non-gendered. I read the book a couple of years ago, before I became so...personally involved in gender theory, as it were, and don't remember details, but I liked it enough to buy it after I read the library copy."
Justin says, "I used to belong to the feminist SF&F listserv, which is a very academically-oriented list. You might consider joining it if you'd like some interesting reading recommendations. Another book I'd highly recommend is Woman on the Edge of Time, by Marge Piercy. Piercy is one of my very favorite writers, and I'd recommend ANYTHING by her, but Woman on the Edge of Time does some fascinating things with gender. Another book you might try is Katherine Dunn's Truck. The main character is female but very boy-identified. This isn't Dunn's best work-- far and away her Geek Love is stunning and worth the read, but not a genderqueerbook. (Hell, read it anyway.)"
Elspeth responded with, "Another Piercy fan speaking up. I would add *He, She and It* to the list, to be sure. Also, most of Marion Zimmer Bradley's whole tapestry of Darkover novels. And don't leave Doris Lessing out either. Many of her novels are fascinating in this regard, though not all deal directly with trans characters. For starters, the ones that come to mind first are her series of (sort of) SF novels, my especial favorite being *The Marriages between Zones Three, Four and Five* dealing with totally separated societies with completely different gender ideas, conventions and definitions who must deal with them when a series of marriages are set up by some 'higher power.' The other novels in the series are also somewhat gender-related, but less overtly so. Her *Golden Notebook* is one of my all time favorites, though I'm not sure how one would classify it."
Jes replied to that with "[The Golden Notebook] used to be one of my favorite books too. When I was a frosh (8 years ago), it was perhaps the first book I'd ever read that had characters like me in it - women who were political, unabashedly sexual, not interested in getting married. I started re-reading it recently, and was pretty disappointed. Lessing says some pretty nasty things about lesbians, and maybe I'm remembering it wrong, but was it really all that genderqueer? Revolutionary for its time, yes, but from my little genderqueer/poly/kinky/etc enclave of today, it seems much less so...."
Scott said, "a kind of genderqueer one is _A Door Into Ocean_...i'm not sure who the author is....but there is this planet/moon that is all water and only wimmin live there...they are very confused by men who live on the main planet...the main planet is kinda oldstyle earth...very militaristic and sexist and decides to basically invade the ocean moon/meanwhile the wimmin r trying to decide if men r human and thus can not be killed... there r sum things i don like about it but it is mostly cool..."
On the young-guys list, Damon suggested Emma Bull's "Bone Dance, which is really wicked cool and has a genderless, sexless protagonist with a lot of cool tranny stuff pivotal to the plot."
Fen suggested "halfway human", by Carolyn Ives Gilman. "it's about a future society where there are people of a third gender, 'blands.' they are completely assexual with no genitalia whatsoever and are androgenous in appearance."
Fen and Damon and a few others also suggested Catspaw and Dreamfall and so on, from the series by Joan Vinge.
Saul added, "Another great book is Shadow Man by Melissa Scott. It's focused on one character who lives on a planet where the government only acknowledges 2 sexes while the rest of the civilized galaxy recognizes 5. very, very, very well written and cool."
On the trannyfags list, Jordy Jones was recommending The Land of Oz - the one where Pip goes through a magical sex change, realizes his true original identity, and becomes Princess Ozma. He added, "There is also a book called 'Handsome Heroines: Women as Men in Folklore.' It was written by Shajrukh Husain, and published in 1996. There are twelve stories from around the world, and they range from crossdressing for convenience tales to TS transformations to an amazing trannyfag love story 'The Legend of Mary Ambree' - who loved and was loved by a sargeant-major. They fought together, and when the sargeant-major was killed in battle Mary - who went by the name of Captain Courageous - led the troops in unstoppable victory."
Jack, another guy on the list, said that another story by L. Frank Baum, "The Enchanted Isle of Yew," had the same themes in it.
Soon, we plan to have links to Powell's Books in Portland, Oregon, or to abebooks, where you can order these books without supporting Evil Chain Bookstores(TM). :-)
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Visitors since August 15, 1998. Last updated June 12, 2001.