Here’s another book review I originally wrote for HM. I’ve linked to Duane’s geocities site in the sidebar on the right: you can order books from his site if you’d like. EDIT: Just found out he has a blog as well. Check it out here.
It’s a very good story. That’s the most basic thing you should want to know if you’re thinking about reading a book. I have found that within the scarce realm of science fiction written by gay writers, a great deal are quite heavy-handed with the gay aspect at the expense of the story. So, when I was sent a copy of Degranon, by Duane Simolke, I didn’t have my hopes set too high. Here we go, I thought, another edition of Poofs in Space.
How wrong I was. Reading Degranon was a welcome change of pace–a scifi story reminiscent of Asimov’s early work, but with undeniably gay sensibilities. The story itself begins on the planet Valchondria, where reality greatly differs from ours. While they profess the “Glory” of their society, Valchondrians dare not speak freely lest they be jailed. They are fined credits if they are above optimal weight. Cured of all illness by a virus that also left them colorblind, the Valchondrians don’t shun gay people–instead, they shun the colorsighted. Colorsighted persons are therefore the ones in the closet. Same-gendered marriage, however, is legal. Add a controversial scientist with twin gay sons (one sent back through time), treachery, murder, and redemption and you get one hell of a story.
Taldra is a scientist who has found a new source of power that opens a doorway in time. Taldra is controversial because she advocates a pro-space colonization policy, when Valchondria had abandoned space colonization 1000’s of years ago. When she and her husband, Hachen, have twin sons in secret, one must be sent back in time to save his life. Taldra & Hachen take pride in knowing their sons Argen and Telius are same-gendered, which was (conveniently) genetically determined at birth. As these twin gay brothers are raised during different time periods, forces force them both along different paths. Only Taldra’s former assistant, Geln, knows of the twins and the doorway through time, and has his own agenda to turn Valchondria into the world as it should be according to the Book of Degranon. All of them, however, must deal with the Maintainers–an Orwellian police force with a presence that shapes every move Valchondrians make. And then along comes Jase-Dawn, another same-gendered boy with the potential to change everything.
Without being too preachy, Simolke touches on many aspects of what’s wrong and right with our own current society and tells a good tale at the same time. While I must admit I found a few particular idioms of the characters took a bit to get used to, there’s a lot of good stuff in Degranon.