Top critical review
Umm????? Story of a hetero man facing his fears of a LGBT future.
Reviewed in the United States on April 28, 2019
Preface: I actually think the book is well written! I read it in one sitting and enjoyed it! For the most part I liked the main character and those around him. He was empathetic and believable, discarding the yawnfest of the hard macho military man. In truth I'd probably give this book a 3, maybe 4 stars. But I put 1 so folks are more likely to read this for my one major thing.
This book aged VERY strangely. And I'm not talking about the dates, or the idea that we had interstellar travel by 1997. I also get that this book was meant to be commentary on Vietnam, but it does not read like that at all. Instead it reads about a hetero man watching the dreaded 'gay agenda' put on fast forward and trying to cope with it. And it just so happens to take place during a war.
This sounds so wild- but let me explain.
The idea of "gotta let them soldiers bang to keep them fighting fit and sane!" is old and tired. Bonus nonsense points here when it is mentioned that the women are legally required to lay with a man (yet it is not mentioned for the men, implying it is one sided... wtf? Go both or not at all! Cowardice!). The main character's group is mixed gender and swap 'bed partners' with the opposite sex every night (implying mostly the women are cycled through each bunk).
As mentioned in another review, there is even a scene where they (the women) are 'set upon' by the sex starved men of a station and make a wild orgy of it. Like, what ???????
As our main character suffers from relativity, each time he has contact with earth society and humanity the more often he comes into contact with LGBT characters (specifically the L and the G). This is mostly described as 'overly feminized' males with 'makeup and their nails done' (If women are not allowed to do this in the military, why the hell would a gay male be allowed to???), or women whom he cant tell are women, but uses she pronouns anyway.
The main character is accepting at this, although mentions his discomfort. In fact they point out homosexuality and worry about it an awful lot...
At one point he finds his elderly mother is with a young (his age?) woman in a lesbian relationship. How this is resolved is that the woman has an outburst on him (though he didn't say anything) and then disappears from the story never to return. Abandoning the ailing mother.
Queue another time skip, and the character finds out that not only are most humans born from test tubes now, but that they are purposely made gay for the grand UN eugenics project! Heteros are the minority and can be 'cured' of their heterosexuality too! Excuse me??? what???
He is very worried about this because the troops he now leads are... all Gays and Lesbians! Oh no! This makes him nervous, so he calls a group of them privately JUST TO MAKE SURE they know he is hetero, and to ask and make sure it wouldn't bother anyone. (Why is this even a thing??? WHY?? why are you telling them this?!?! How does this matter to anything???!?!)
It eventually comes to a point later that oh! all of humanity is now actually a clone of the same person (named 'man'). But if that bothers you, you can go to one of the breeder planets! ...??????
To the author and the main character's credit, the reaction is not outright revulsion or anger in the face of all this. Instead its the main character dealing with their growing discomfort in being with "a lot of them" and eventually having his heterosexuality deemed as 'deviant'. Basically a Hetero male's nightmare if all they care about is what other people do in their bedroom.
The ending is problematic in itself. With the MC's Gay pal deciding they will "Try and be hetero!", with the main character insisting they will "like it when they try it!" The book does not deny that it is a genetic trait and not a choice, but the whole "ah just turn the gay person straight as they should be!" at the end is... yikes!
A second yikes is the note from his GF to "go to the planet of 'middle finger'" AKA the last haven for heterosexual people! Ah yes! A safe place for them! Finally! Wow!
Coupled with the fact that most of the gory injuries happen to women. This story feels more about a straight man trying to come to terms with a LGBT future than anything. The war parts are good, but feel like part of the setting rather than the story. The character just cares so much about something that should otherwise be inconsequential. He needs to get over it.