Whirr2005-08-17
The Enchantments of Flesh and Spirit
by Storm Constantine
This book has all the markings of bad fanfic. It's the story of normal people living in a repressive and dystopic future who get "incepted" as "Wraeththu"--magical gay androgynes with magic powers. They are all perfect and beautiful and never die and have lots and lots of great sex. Also, the writing (especially in this first book) is chock full of bad editing, with misplaced quotations marks" and some pretty egregious misspellings.

Having said that, it turns out the the book is actually really great. It's the first book in the Wraeththu trilogy, but I'll talk here about all three of the books.

So, yeah... It's oddly difficult for me to realize this, but I liked the series a great deal. Politically it's great--very queer friendly, and it's about androgynes fercrissake. It has a fascinating post-apoc plot, and it is about beautiful, beautiful people. The acid test, these days, about how I feel about a novel is it's treatment of Love. So someone like Haruki Murakami will never be invited to tea, and Philip Pullman had best not get too near me at a party, even though I loved 90% of their novels. AT any rate, Bad Things happen to Lovers early on in the series, but somehow I wasn't too effected by it. This is possibly because Murakami and Pullman were primarily interested in milking my angst for their own literary enjoyment, while Constantine has some serious plot to get on with, and the Bad Thing was entirely necessary. I'm not sure. The final message about Love, however, after you finish all three books, is one that I can entirely agree with. That's pretty rare... gosh, I'm liking this book more and more just talking about it.

It also makes me want to get a series of cartilaginous ear piercings.

I try to be as gender-unbiased as I can, so it's always interesting to me when I'm guilty of a assumptions. For example, one of the problems that I had with the novels was the male voice--only men can become Wraeththu, and all of the main characters are male. In my head, this contributed to my idea that I was reading gay wish-fulfillment stories instead of "proper sci-fi" (which I knew shouldn't bother me, anyway, as I'm perfectly content to read sword and sorcery novels that are hetero wish fulfillment... I think... maybe not... hmm). Anyway, I had quite an image of Storm Constantine. Well, it turns out that she's female, and looks like this:



That certainly adds an element to my reading of the novels. It still grates when anyone discusses the "strength of the female and the power of the male, united in the body of the Wraeththu", or whatever. I very much want to discuss this with someone, but it really the three books are not really very separate--you can't stop reading after The Bewitchments of Love and Hate and think that you're in a position to discuss the novels. I find that it's very difficult to convince other people to read 700 pages of book just so that can have a conversation with me.
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