The Quiet Guy It Always Was (John Barnes, Short Story, MOBI for Kindle)

Short story, 5700 words, exploring some of the edgier possibilities of sexual transformation surgery. Not for the squeamish, perhaps.

Short story, 5700 words, most people can read it in less than an hour. R-rated if that matters to you, and if it does, you probably won’t like it. Ever know one of those quiet guys who seemed to get around a lot? Ever wonder what it was like to be one? (I know I sure wondered!) Ever wonder what they get out of it? And what if you could get even more of that?Never before published, now from Metrocles House.

Heinlein once complained that he thought he'd written a science fiction story, but the editors who rejected it said it wasn't science fiction. In his introduction to it in one of his collections, where it was finally published, he finished up with a catalog of the scientific and speculative elements, followed by, "Excuse me, I must've been in the wrong church."

The Quiet Guy It Always Was has been turned down by most of the science fiction editors out there in the last few years, sometimes with the note that they liked it but it "wasn't science fiction,"sometimes with the note that they felt it was reasonably good science fiction but their readers never would.

Well, following the model: 'scuse me, but isn't medical technology part of science? And isn't science fiction in part about the human possibilities that are opened up by changes in technology? And aren't the most science fictional choices the ones that don't occur in nature -- the things human beings can do, feel, and be that they couldn't before the technology? 

Well, 'scuse me. I must've been in the wrong church.

I do think there's one real reason why this doesn't feel science fictiony to many "sci-fi guys and spec fic chicks" as Ed Bryant calls the literary Usual Suspects... and that is the unwritten rule referred to by two of the famous and frequent rejection slips from John W. Campbell, that said, "You've stated a problem, now solve it," and "Your story should be about the person this hurts most."

In this case, I think I stated the problem and wrote about the person who enjoys it most. I wouldn't dream of solving his problem. Or hers. Or anyone's, when it comes to anything as complex as desire.

Since this is already a very quote-heavy intro, let me conclude with one from James Thurber:

Love is blind, but desire doesn't give a good goddam.

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