Shadow Man

Shadow ManFive Human Sexual Identities Are Spread Throughout The Galaxy, And Humanity Has Adjusted To This New Culture Except On Hara There Everyone Must Choose To Be A Man Or A Woman And That Decision Is Final Warreven, A Haran Man, Could Have Married The Son Of The Ruler Of The Planet If He Had Chosen To Be A Woman The Result Of The Conflict Is One Of The Most Bizarre Identity Crises In Science Fiction

Scott studied history at Harvard College and Brandeis University, and earned her PhD in comparative history She published her first novel in 1984, and has since written some two dozen science fiction and fantasy works, including three co authored with her partner, Lisa A Barnett.Scott s work is known for the elaborate and well constructed settings While many of her protagonists are gay, lesbia

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  • Hardcover
  • 320 pages
  • Shadow Man
  • Melissa Scott
  • English
  • 14 December 2019
  • 9780312858001

10 thoughts on “Shadow Man

  1. says:

    DNF 38% I even skimmed another 30 pages, to the halfway point, and it was still a blow by blow account of an unlucky in love lawyer and an immigrant pharmaceutical director s respective days I am so disappointed I was really looking forward to this the idea of seeing 5 genders was really fascinating and the comparison between the binary and something maybe closer to all encompassing was something I did find interesting.Except that the five genders were all sex based In a way, it was pretty cool, in that due to a drug needed for space travel, intersex births sky rocketed Society needed a way to identify cisgender folks, those with both sets of human reproductive organs, and those whose bodies had feminine or masculine traits Fine Good Except that none had any desire to be identified differently from their bodies, which seems bizarre to me Gender is a social construct, sure, but it is than that It maps brains differently It was hard, then, to find one society that allowed for trans people to live with whichever of the two pronouns they chose or required people lose their gender and simply announce their true sex as it was called And, despite the removal of the social construct of gender, meaning that all people with AB set of features were considered C gender, there were still stereotypes Well, 3er sure negotiated like a fem WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN How do ovaries or testes negotiate Because that s what we re talking about.So anyways, that was weird.But I d have kept reading just for the thought experiment and maybe the characters, who are somewhat interesting if ANYTHING had f ing happened I know which shampoos Warreven prefers and how dancing works on Hara, but not why I give a shit Halfway through the book, the biggest plot points that had occurred were a dance riot that impacted zero main characters and the dude who was basically the president of Hara rigging an election for Warreven so that he could be in charge of negotiating port rights for ships I m sure there are many good books about dance, riots, and port rights, but this was not one of them.Oh OH I almost forgot Sweet Christ, the borrowed words and obvious blurring of other words hyperlumin A for the FTL drug Bonemarche for the big commercial city Baas for boss Why It just made me angry to see misspelled words all over the place and realize that the cool local vocab was just boss or master spelled with alien double letters Very cool to see intersex people front and center, and maybe if I didn t have a lot of books with plots I was excited to unravel I d have pressed on, but since I do, I m gonna say goodbye to Hara.

  2. says:

    Interim Summary of Shadow Man by Melissa ScottPlanet Hara has a complex society, based on mesnies , 14 clans based on the original fourteen founders, and five Watches But they recognize only two genders, despite the fact that the drugs that made FTL travel safe and reliable caused mutations among the original colonists The Concord the rest of space traveling humanity has come to recognize five genders male, female, mem XX ovary non teste male genetalia e is im imself , fem XY testes non ovary female genetalia e er er erself , and herm testes and ovaries e, er, im, imself Harans choose their gender assignment at maturity, even in the face of Concord influence to adopt the five gender model.Warreven is a Haran advocate, with a specialty in laws surrounding sexual behavior It is implied thus far that he is a herm who chose male at maturity to escape marriage and assignment as a woman he is small and dark and flaunts gender custom to dress and speak ambiguously Mayre Tatian is a phamaceutical rep from the Concord, a bit of a straight arrow, who has met and become attracted to Warreven Mayne has trouble with his data implants and seeks to get them fixed on the planet His company has constrained him to not not get embroiled in trade , or sexual behaviour outside the norm on the planet Warreven s marriage was to have been to the son of the most powerful man on the planet that failed relationship is coming around to bite Warreven, as his name has been put forth as the only worthwhile candidate for the planet s trade director.Notes on FINISHING This is a book with many faces part commentary on politics, part commentary on colonialism, part commentary on culture, part social science SF, part literature, and a big part looking at the effects of gender on society and the effects of society on gender I feel like there are mild influences from Heinlein s The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress and from Frank Herbert s Dune and from Ursula K Le Guin s Left Hand of Darkness, at least in the sense of world building.Unfortunately these diversities tend to weaken the novel instead of strengthening it For me, too much of my reading energies were spent figuring out what was going on, and what it all meant, to enjoy the writing We spend the novel on the planet Haran, a hundred years after contact has been reestablished with other planets of human society s second wave of expansion The first wave had collapsed when it became apparent that the drugs allowing lightspeed travel were having severe genetic impacts, effectively adding three genders to the human race So there, Dear Reader, is the first challenge that Ms Scott s novel will present to you how to understand and build upon the foundation of five genders, and the correct pronouns for who s who, and still understand what s what Our second challenge is this despite having incurred the same biological effects that all colonials have, the Harans are locked into a binary gender model This is good, Dear Reader, in that we have something of a touchstone to a society we are familiar with But it feels contrived, and opens a new set of questions with respect to what s important one protagonist is indigenous to Haran and living as a male, but truly on of the three unrecognized genders and active in the underground society of wrangways and wry a beds analogous, somewhat, to transgender and LGBT today and how we are to feel about it.I feel that all of this would make sense if the plot had unambiguous direction and pacing, but we no sooner launch down an understanding of one protagonists plight than we shift to another, or sidebar to investigate future interfaces to computers or rename every kind of vehicle on the streets, and soon there is a plethora of things that might be important, until the detritus falls away in the last 10% of the story to have an idea of what s what.

  3. says:

    5 genders vs 2 A A , her best yet I should definitely reread it.The real review to read is Althea Ann s, she references an interesting academic paper, The Five Sexes Why Male and Female Are Not Enough

  4. says:

    Another book in my series of reading sci fi only when it s written by women this year, I picked Shadow Man by Melissa Scott No other reason behind it than me clicking myself through goodreads and putting some books on my to read list.As sci fi introductions go, I was surprised by this one, but in a good way Sci fi books can take a long time in introducing you to all the worldbuilding that needs to take place, and that can be tedious, but Shadow Man never had me confused or bored after, say, the first chapter, but first chapters can generally be confusing I have to say that I went into this book knowing not much than the basic premise that we re dealing with a world or universe with than two genders namely five , so I really went in headfirst without any preparation.A few words about the plot I liked it It was very politically driven, and less action based, though there certainly is some action, to the point where it read like a polispolit thriller in space Well, not in space, but on a planet in space Eh, it s sci fi, you get the idea The characters were politicians, lobbyists, activists, and people being fucked over by the government I enjoyed it, but that s because I m a sucker for people who manage to portray alien politics well and believable without falling into lazy stereotypes The worldbuilding in general was super intriguing A planetary colony that was separated from the rest of humanity when it was discovered that faster than light travel caused people to be born as than the traditional sexes of male and female and I say traditional because that s how male and female are viewed on Hara, the world where the story takes place It took a while to re establish contact with that world, and now while the rest of the people in the universe have accepted that there are five sexes, on Hara people still have to choose between being male or being female, even when their bodies don t match that This is probably my only beef with the book, the fact that gender and sex are seen as one and the same, but it still does a great job in portraying how harmful the gender binary is to the people of this world even when it doesn t go into depth in exploring gender vs sex etc The politicians on Hara want to keep it that way, even when that makes them seem backwards to the offworlders who buy from Hara There s also a pretty big market for prostitution, where mostly poor people with sexes that don t match the binary try to make money with off worlders that come there That s what I meant when I said it s a polit thriller The books is about gender politics and conservatives in power who want to preserve the status quo It s speculative fiction with very clear parallels in reality.I enjoyed this book I loved the characters, too, quite apart from the plot being really engrossing The perspectives switch between Tatian, an off worlder, and Warreven, a Haran who was born a herm and in the course of the story comes to terms with xer identity A little note on the kindle version All the pronouns that weren t he or she were lost in formatting I m guessing their used special letters that my kindle couldn t process, but it was really annoying to have to read Warreven s pronouns as 3e all the time I m using xe for xem because I literally don t know how it was supposed to look in print So if you want to read this book, I suggest a print version to avoid odd numbers as pronouns for people.

  5. says:

    I m writing this review years after the fact, but it had a great impact on me I ve been thinking about it Reading this can be an uphill battle keeping up with pronouns and the politics of the society but once it clicks it is so worth it I felt attached to the characters and was impressed at the handling of the performative nature of gender with societal restraints It makes the reader question not only the less progressive society but the progressive one as well They both have labels and language that constrain and with which we try to assemble our identity as it feels real to us.A very complex and fulfilling read that examines the nature and complexity of gender in society Highly recommended

  6. says:

    Good reminder of the importance of speaking truth to power even if you don t immediately accomplish something by doing so.

  7. says:

    I m finding it hard to string sentences together to make actual paragraphs, so let s have bullets It s been ages since I actually read an FSF book with a glossary in it Well, there s Kirith Kirin But the last book I ve finished with a glossary of terms is Wraeththu This book is about Hara and about the Concord countries I m guessing post Apocalyptic and post generation ship as suggested by the gods and the way the family system works People started taking this drug to ensure safe interstellar travel, with the side effects of three extra genders mostly male, mostly female, and the hermaphrodite Five genders are recognised by the Concord countries, but only male and female legally exist in Hara something like a backwater country Odd bodied persons are forced to declare themselves legally and through their clothing as either male or female Warreven, one of the main characters, chose to remain male even though he was promised marriage with the son of the Most Important Man if he changes his gender to female Trade is confusing Even now I can t really tell you what trade is, but it has to do with citizenship, sexual relations between indegenes and offworlders, and actual mercantile trade Book is really about the acknowledgement of the existence of oddbodied people In the end, Warreven view spoiler tried to force the Most Important Man into legally recognising the three other genders in Hara, but that is just the beginning of the issue There is still wry abeds or homosexuals bisexuals omnisexuals as opposed to the so abeds straight people , and while there is a social stigma against them because wry abeds are mostly related to trade the issue is still about gender than sexuality Warreven s attraction for Mhyre Tatian is reciprocated, but never acted upon Characters almost feel asexual, except we know they re not hide spoiler

  8. says:

    Billed as queer speculative fiction , I view this as something else Not that it doesn t deal with both gender and sexual orientation, but it is a complex tale, dealing with multiculturalism, different understandings of what it is to be human, and has both a respect of difference and a tenderness at its heart which make it as good as anything in science fiction As soon call Leguin s Left Hand Of Darkness an example of queer speculative fiction as this it suggests a niche audience, when it should not Wonderful story, wonderful writing I believe it has become, all at once, one of my favorite SF novels.

  9. says:

    A very interesting story with a well built world sadly hampered by pedestrian prose and uneven pacing This would have been much better at half the length with half the detail the pharma biz stuff is needlessly prominent and Tatian s inner musings in the first third of the book are nearly as pointless I d still recommend this for readers looking for queer focused science fiction, though.

  10. says:

    An extremely interesting novel by Scott, probably my favorite of all her work I ve read so far It seems to have been inspired by Anne Fausto Sterling s 1993 essay, The Five Sexes Why Male and Female Are Not Enough Humanity has achieved FTL travel, and colonized widely However, the drug that allows people to survive interplanetary travel has also had the side effect of increasing mutations, causing around 25% of children to be born intersex Throughout most of the colonized worlds, this fact has been gradually absorbed by society, and five sexes are considered standard, and the corollary gender roles and social expectations to go with each gender have grown up around them as well However, on one world, long out of touch with its neighbors, society clings to a two gendered model everyone, regardless of their physical attributes, must be seen as either male or female When contact is made again, and trade and business relations grow, the people from other worlds and other societies are increasingly seen as a threat The book concentrates on one person in particular Warreven, a herm who has been living as a man, but who would like the freedom to be seen as an individual, without having to fit into a gender role that does not precisely suit It s a socially complex, idea filled book, with strong characters The furor that some of these characters work themselves up into over socially constructed gender roles up to and including extreme violence seems absurd and sometimes unbelievable until one realizes that our own society is just as bad if not worse, over some of the very same exact issues Highly recommended.

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