Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Galatea in Utopia, by Nick Wolven

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(SF) On a whim, Rick decides to make himself 100% female for a night out with friends, but he meets a special guy who falls in love with “her” and he’s not sure he wants to be female for him all the time. (10,676 words; Time: 35m)

Rating: ★★★☆☆ Average

"Galatea in Utopia," by (edited by C.C. Finlay), appeared in issue 01-02|18, published on by .

Mini-Review (click to view--possible spoilers)

Pro: As I read this story, it's about the conflict Rick feels as a gay guy having a relationship with a straight man who can only accept him if he’ll “be the girl” for him—in this case, literally. The revelation that Alan isn’t really stuck in his present form—he just tells that story to get guys to transition for him—makes him no different from guys in the real world who claim to be straight but are mainly interested in submissive gay guys who'll dress up for them. (I think this is probably rare these days, but I knew people in such relationships as recently as 30 years ago.)

Rick eventually feels abused by the relationship, even though he entered it willingly, and he walks away from it. But part of him still wants to be Alan’s Galatea, carved by his desire, not his hands.

It was an interesting touch that he still went by "Rick" even when his form was 100% female.

Con: The story seems to have a few contradictions in it. First, we’re led to believe that these transitions are easy and essentially cost-free, but later we meet Betty who is suing her ex for making her transition into a form that is expensive to transition out of.

Second, in the first part of the story, it seemed that most people changed form on a routine basis and that few people opted for 100% male or female. Later, though, Alan talks about the world being a mix of people who change and people who don’t, and Rick talks about Alan forcing transition on guys who were “perfectly happy” being guys.

There’s also a fair bit of narration about people looking disdainfully at Rick for being male in a 100% female body, and yet the implication I drew from most of the story is that no one would care.

It's not a surprise that the culture has rules and taboos, but I never felt it was clear to me what those were nor that they were introduced in the smoothest way.

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