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Author Carolyn Ives Gilman

Title Halfway Human

Reviewer Nora Charles

Genre Science Fiction

Kink neuter/M, neuter/F
non-sexual slavery, unequal relationship

Grade *****  Excellent

Explicitness A few off-stage love scenes. One horrible rape (child abuse).

Summary Tedla: a bland (neuter) very far from home. It's had a tumultuous life, with both great joy and great suffering. Now it relives everything as it tells its lifestory to Val. Tellegen: a great philosopher and powerful man. Becomes Tedla's patron and inspiration.

Galele: a first contact specialist who unwittingly (or purposefully?) stirs up trouble on Tedla's world by questioning every taboo.

Val: an expert in alien cultures who tries to help Tedla, but discovers there are powerful forces trying to stop it from becoming a diplomatic crisis by whatever means necessary.

Tedla tells its life story to Val, but Val who has the records of Galele, the first contact specialist who brought it to her world, soon discovers discrepancies. Who is telling the truth? Are they both lying, and why?
Someone is out to get Tedla, and Val wonders if she has the moral right to risk her daughter and husband by helping her study object.

Quality Tedla's world is an excellent and thought-provoking extrapolation of gender relations and gender politics nowadays. It is shown with warmth and compassion and gentle humour for the people who live there, and implacable condemnation of the repressive system they have allowed to exist: the system the reader is dared and inspired to fight inside her or himself. Val's world is a more ironic (and superficial) look at a future information society. Info is the only currency, and info has become god. Good? Bad? Up to the reader to judge.

The language is beautiful and evocative, it draws you in, and lets you live for a while in Tedla's world, love its family and suffer with it. Amazingly, it is never preachy, never speaks down to the reader or tells her/him what to believe. Like Val, we must discover the pros and cons of Tedla's world for ourselves, and draw comparison to our world by ourselves.

I promise this book, in the shape of Tedla, will stay with you for a very long time. You may have to put the book down for hours or days to process the emotions and questions of your own taboos and prejudices, but you will come back to it, and end up feeling enriched as if you've been on a journey.
And you will foist it on family, friends and acquaintances, and try to make them read it by not telling them the about the horrible stuff, and the thought provoking thing, and then feel as if you've betrayed Tedla by underplaying its destiny, and then turn them completely off the book by telling them how challenging it can be to read--but really, I swear it's funny and sweet and romantic too!

Gay Sci-Fi:
    Gay Fantasy:
    Gay Mystery:
    Gay Humor:
    Gay Thriller:

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