Total-E-Bound, £2.49, ISBN 978-1-906328-33-7
Sci-fi Romance, 2007
I believe this is the first time I encounter a hermaphrodite hero – heroine? – in a romance story. Oh well, there’s always a first time for everything, I suppose. Poor Heron Meed is referred to as “it” in this story and because there’s a heroine in this story, I believe I will just refer to Heron as a “he” to keep things simple.
In Prime Suspect, Heron is recently released from the e’Bultar Detention Centre and due to the laws of the Republic, he is forbidden to take up residence in natural planets. No such rule forbids him from taking up residence in “artificial habitat constructs”, however, so he heads over to the space station called Castor Xeni Orbital to try his luck there. Poor Heron experiences plenty of prejudices against his kind but this time he manages to spark up a relationship with his landlady, our widowed heroine Subah Doisson. Alas, not everyone is as open-minded as Subah so their relationship won’t be smooth sailing to a happy ending.
Before you ask, the love scenes are actually not that unorthodox or far out. I have some problems getting used to the use of “it” and “its” in this story though. I know there isn’t any official gender-neutral pronoun for a hermaphrodite creature but the whole “it” and “its” affair still need some getting used to.
Barring that, I don’t really have any significant issue with the story. Well, perhaps Heron could have been more interesting, as apart from his hermaphrodite condition, there is nothing really memorable about him. He often comes off too much like a PSA about the need for tolerance and happy hugs. But still, this is a pleasant short story at the end of the day. I can’t say I am breathless with excitement over it, but I can’t say I am clutching my heart in pain either. It’s… okay.