Future Feeling

Joss Lake. Soft Skull, $16.95 trade paper (304p) ISBN 978-1-59376-688-7
Set in the near future, Lake’s quirky, chaotic debut follows trans man Penfield Henderson as he wrestles with his self-destructive impulses and stumbles his way toward finding a queer community. Penfield is obsessed with Aiden Chase, a trans social media influencer who glows with masculinity and woo-woo self-help wisdom. In a fit of pettiness, Penfield tries to hex Aiden into the Shadowlands of despair—but the hex instead accidentally catches Blithe, another trans man and a transracial adoptee. The Rhiz, a secret society of well-adjusted LGBTQ folks connected by a “subaltern, mycorrhizae-modeled network,” steps in, assigning Penfield and Aiden to work together to rescue Blithe from the Shadowlands. Disappointingly, Blithe’s time in the Shadowlands processing his gender and racial pain is largely glossed over, as Lake instead focuses on Penfield changing his middle name from Ruth to R., outgrowing his closeted celebrity hookup, and bonding with Aiden over iced coffee. While these slice-of-trans-life sequences are refreshing and honest, their myopic focus on Penfield undercuts the larger theme of queer interconnectedness. Nevertheless, Pen’s fairy tale ending hits the spot. Despite some disjointed plotting and frequent clumsiness around race, this coming-of-age journey through the surreality of gender will please readers seeking speculative queer fiction. Agent: Chris Clemans, Janklow & Nesbit. (June)
Reviewed on : 12/03/2020
Release date: 06/01/2021
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror
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