Lambda Award nominee
I bought this book because of that title: FutureDyke. That’s just kind of awesome, is it not? It sounds like a funny, fun, sexy romp, possibly with space suits and zero-g sex, doesn’t it? In fact, when my son asked me what I was reading and I told him the title of Daley’s book, he said, “Oh, is this for that erotic live-blogging thing you do?”
Despite its title, this book wants to be serious science fiction.
The premise is one that’s familiar to SF readers: our heroine, Leslie Burke, goes into cryogenic sleep because she has incurable brain cancer and wakes up whole and sound, in a future barely recognizable to her.
Specifically, in FutureDyke, she wakes up on manufactured planet, Jashari, where ‘we-ism’ is the new norm and every human strives to become part of the Universal Whole. Big spoiler: this isn’t the utopia it might seem to be, because, you know, uniqueness is a Human Value of Great Importance and any culture that values other over individual is inherently evil or, at least, deeply suspect.
I found that simplistic message a little off-putting, especially when Leslie’s helper ‘bot, Aimée, uses the honorific -ahn, which, of course, calls to mind Japanese and other Asian cultures. There is a lot of bowing, too. At one point it’s even made explicit that the people who founded Jashari are of Asian and African descent. And, Leslie Burke, along with her fellow “Returnees” have these amazing Anglo-Saxon names, like Chastity Whitehall and Taylor Hemingway, are coded white with white-sauce. I get very bad vibe of what TV Tropes calls “Mighty Whitey” but I mostly know as “What These People Need is a Honky.”
But that aside, our heroine Leslie is also given to a lot of pontificating about what is right and mighty about her perspective on things, which is super-handy, because she actually fulfills a prophecy about one who will come and shake up the status quo/new world order.
Honestly? The whole novel reads like one of those heavy-handed episodes of classic Star Trek.
And not in a good way.
I mean, I ended up reading the whole thing, kind of waiting to see if things would get better, and partly because I kept being deeply amused any time our heroine Leslie, described the women she meets as dykes. I mean, every single adult woman in this novel is a dyke. Not a lesbian, or queer or genderfluid or trans, but a dyke, which made me chuckle in a holy-what-even-is way.
In point of fact, Leslie’s future very much seemed like our past. Dyke culture is something familiar to me from the 1970s. The so-called dyke uniform that Leslie believes exists is clearly something left over from when I was a baby dyke in early 1980s (I mean, seriously, it included suspenders and a lavender shirt. Suspenders!) The characters were even circumspect about dissing a member of the tribe. There’s a little hand-waving in the worldbuilding to make this slightly more plausible. And I suppose, as a worldbuilding cheat, this kind of talk and attitude might seem profoundly alien to the current young queer generation.
But I think that same younger queer readers might have the same problems I had not only with the simplistic message, but also the fact that the character of Leslie herself is fairly bigoted. She’s horrified (to the point of almost throwing up) that her artificial human companion Aimée can easily shift between genders. Leslie seems to think that makes Aimée duplicitous, a liar… you know, because you can’t just be who you are no matter what gender you present on the outside. Leslie also repeatedly tells Aimée that she’s not human, when she clearly is for all intents and purposes just that. All of this makes me not like Leslie very much. It makes her seem like a dyke dinosaur.
And not in a good way.
Because dinosaurs are cool.
And, Dyke Dinosaur sounds like the name of the next erotica Bitter Empire should live-blog.