cover image Shadow Man

Shadow Man

Melissa Scott. Tor Books, $22.95 (320pp) ISBN 978-0-312-85800-1

Political intrigue set in a far future that features a radically different human culture hinging on a multitude of genders is the theme of Scott's (Trouble and Her Friends) new work. The drug hyperlumin-A, which eases sickness from faster-than-light travel, has given rise to three new sexes--mem, fem and herm--each with its own pronoun system and stereotyped societal role. On the planet Hara, however, only male and female are legal roles, and the ``odd-bodied'' that form one-fourth of the population there must choose to act as one or the other. Warreven is a Haran herm, living as a man, whose personal history and work--first as a ``clan advocate'' arguing the legal cases of ``players'' who ply the ``trade'' (commercial sex), then as an elected official--lead him to oppose his world's policies. Scott's commentary on today's sexual politics is obvious, but she develops a rich, creative and consistent culture with its own family structures, social mores, religion and technology that will engage readers and likely return in a sequel. (July)