You folks might remember a few months back when I enthusiastically recommended our dear friend Fran Poretto’s latest novel, Innocents. He mentioned at the time that the book was a difficult one for him to finish, being a distinct departure for him thematically and in other ways. I’m a HUGE fan of Francis’ work and enjoyed the book thoroughly, as I have every other thing of his I’ve read. But you could practically see the sweat and hear the exhausted sigh from him, even via e-mail.
He also mentioned that he had received requests for a sequel pretty much right away, a possibility he shied from in horror in our e-mail conversation. Understandable enough, coming off the completion of a difficult work, and I saw no reason to either gainsay him or try to prod him into considering such a project. The man truly is one of the best sci-fi writers I know of; his stuff is well-written—strongly reminiscent in places of the great Heinlein, while remaining uniquely his own—and any direction he cares to go in is fine with me, as long as he sends me a copy.
So imagine my delighted surprise when I received this missive from him the other day:
Innocents has stimulated the usual queries about a sequel, and I’ve been trying to come up with a governing idea for one. The idea that most intrigues me at the moment is one that could raise quite a lot of howls. Brace yourself, because I’m about to try it out on you.
The “transgenderism” fad is essentially a psychosis, an emotional disorder for which there is currently no effective therapy. Part of my intent in writing the three futanari stories (“A Place of Our Own,” “One Small Detail,” and “A Daughter of the County,” in case I’ve never mentioned them to you before, and great God in heaven, once again I can’t remember if I did!) was to dramatize the disorder from another angle: persons born “intersex,” with female bodies and other characteristics except for their genitals, which are male. These are folks who: 1) were given their unusual anatomies at birth, and: 2) have all the troubles you might imagine because of that. The contrast between the lot of those futanari and the born-normal but willful “transgenders” was what I was most interested in.
Now imagine that:
- An effective therapy for the transgender psychosis is found. It’s painless, has no perceptible side effects, and is 100% effective.
- Some time after that, the genetic basis for the futanari condition is isolated, such that it can be averted through zygotic surgery.
I’d imagine that the uproar among “transgenders” would be considerable. There would be those who would demand that the therapy be outlawed. There would be others who are overjoyed at the prospect of an effective treatment. And there would be a third group, “transgenders” who had transitioned some time ago, who would be in absolute agony over having “been born too soon.”
But of course, a therapy for an emotional malady would have no bearing on the futanari. Their plight would remain unaffected. How would they react to the news? And how, once it was announced that their condition could be prevented, would they react to that? After all, it would leave them as a demographic isolated in time, soon to be no more, especially as they can’t reproduce. Would some of them seek to perpetuate their kind by other means, such as cloning? What would be the effects on the international sex trade in persons with such bodies? And what would become of Athene Academy?
Some of this comes to mind because of the capering of certain “deaf activists.” In case you’re not familiar with that group, they claim that deafness is a “culture,” and seek to make it a condition protected by law – perhaps even favored with special privileges and subventions, like the Amerinds. There was a lesbian deaf couple that went to great lengths to ensure that “their son” would be born deaf, a species of cruelty I can’t imagine being tolerated by a more sane era.
Also, we have the homosexual activists and their efforts to have conversion therapy outlawed. Now, conversion therapy is hit-or-miss. Apparently it’s effective no more than 10% of the time, and the patient goes through considerable emotional stress along the way, so the parallel isn’t exact. However, the idea that a group with a recognized handicap would strive to prevent that handicap from being treated is on a par with the “deafness is a culture” types. It suggests that the reaction to effective therapies for disabling conditions that set significant groups of people apart won’t always be positive. But how negative would it be? Would violence be involved?
Working title: The Experienced. (With apologies to the spirit of William Blake.)
Does any of this strike sparks?
Damned right it does, especially knowing the capable hands and imaginative mind that will shape the story. These are compelling speculations, fresh as tomorrow’s news, presenting thorny dilemmas we’ll soon be wrestling with for real, both as individuals and culturally.
Another baffling phenom along the lines of the “deaf activists” Francis mentions is the currently-fashionable denunciation of “fat shaming.” Certain people—yes, we can easily surmise the political leanings of most of them—incomprehensibly make the claim that morbidly obese people are “beautiful” too, and should not in any way be encouraged to try to lift the curse of their infirmity but to take “pride” in it instead. Apart from the ridiculous idea that 400 pounds of jiggling blubber is in any way “beautiful” to anybody, just never you mind the life-threatening consequences of obesity, the shame and self-loathing obese people suffer, the sad restrictions it places on their ability to fully enjoy life, the exorbitant expense and scarcity of such mundanities as clothing and shoes, and the many other damaging effects of their pathology.
Not that we ought to be making fun of the poor fatties, of course, any more than we should deaf people or “transgender” lunatics or any other of the tragically afflicted. But decency, humanity, courtesy, and compassion in no way require that we all pretend that these handicaps are admirable, or beneficial, or some sort of blessing in disguise. They are what they are: afflictions. They require only that we acknowledge the reality of their nature as such and, if we can’t find a way to help their victims to prevail over them somehow, that we just leave them the hell alone. I can’t imagine any way in which it might be helpful to actually stand up and cheer for those afflictions, to dupe the afflicted into being thankful for such a “gift,” or to insult whatever dignity they have by figuratively averting our eyes via patronizing, perverted euphemistic contortions such as “differently abled.”
Enough digression, back to brass tacks: if any of you haven’t already, get on over to Francis’ place and buy his books. I promise you you won’t regret it, and your appetite will be duly whetted for the sequel to Innocents as an added bonus. Having made a go at writing a novel myself a few years back—and failing miserably at it, too—I can only tip my hat in humble admiration to a guy like Francis, who manages to produce such extraordinary work again and again (I was gonna append something like “seemingly effortlessly” at the last there, but I know better than that).
Thankfully, the fruits of Poretto’s toil in the gardens of lit’rachure are easily available to us lesser lights in this the Age of the Innarnuts, and at a bargain price. He also has a variety of (mostly) shorter novels available here, along with one on his thoughts about the nuts and bolts of writing, all for the astonishingly low, low price of…FREE. Do yourself a favor and go get yourself some. You’ll be supporting one of the good guys, with the added benefit of helping a worthwhile alternative to a world of creative endeavor dominated by lugubrious dreck salted heavily with liberal proselytizing to flourish.
I ain’t seeing a downside here, people. Francis tells me that his last endorsement from these humble environs resulted in a most gratifying jump in sales; go out there and do us all proud, gang.