Jan 18th, 2018, Galatea in Utopia by Nick Wolven, Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine, Jan/Feb 2018

As has become customary of Nick Wolven’s work, this story turns a keen eye to the societal issues of today and takes them to what may be an ultimate extreme. In this story, people are welcome to change their bodies in any way they want anytime. men can become women, women can become men, men can become Abercrombie models, women can become barbies. It’s all based on percentages. You can be 50/50 complete androgynous, or you can be 80/20. Anyone who goes full 100, either way, is considered pretty extreme. But wearing a body is the same as wearing clothes in the world Wolven introduces us to.

Enter Rick, Rick likes change. He can’t stop changing. Every weekend he becomes someone different in appearance. He also likes men. Enter Allan. Allan is permanent. Some condition as a child made it impossible for him to change, so he’s balding. He’s not perfect, and that makes him unique. Rick is instantly attracted to Allan. Allan is attracted to Rick, as Rick is wearing some pin-up female body, 100 percent.

While I could recount the plot, the plot isn’t really what this piece is about. This piece is about what makes us us. What we’re stuck with or not stuck with in terms of physicality. It’s about what influences our behavior in terms of gender roles and actions. What does it mean for someone who knows unequivocally who they are to live in a world where so many people don’t? This piece points to the ways in which we are told what to want in our relationships, instead of the things that will be most fulfilling. Often what we think we want isn’t what is lasting or important.

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