Clarkesworld Magazine, #2, November 2006

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"The Moby Clitoris of His Beloved" by Ian Watson and Roberto Quaglia
"Lydia’s Body" by Vylar Kaftan

Clarkesworld Magazine
#2 starts with “The Moby Clitoris of His Beloved” by Ian Watson and Roberto Quaglia. Set in Japan, Yukio, a hard-pressed clerk, longs for the taste of an expensive delicacy, whale clitoris sashimi. Since only the wealthiest of the wealthy can afford to experience it, and Yukio is far from that, he hatches a plan to seduce and marry an ama diver—a woman who harvests whale clitoris sashimi—so she will smuggle some to him. Complications ensue and Yukio’s plan falls apart. So he embarks on another.

“The Moby Clitoris of His Beloved” is about false perceptions. There is duplicity in all parts of Yukio’s world, and appearances are never as they seem. As Yukio begins to discover this, in part, he tries to profit from it. And when those plans backfire, he discovers the depth of the duplicity. It is finally through confrontation with all the false images that he must face that he seemingly learns to see reality—although, even this may be a false perception.

“The Moby Clitoris of His Beloved” is extremely well written. Both Watson and Quaglia are widely published, and it shows. The writing is crisp, and the story moves briskly along with no wasted words. Worth reading.

In the rolling submission slot, we have “Lydia’s Body” by Vylar Kaftan. Amanda Barnes has been transported back through time into the body of Lydia, a young woman living with her pioneer father. Except now the man isn’t her father, but a strong and impressive man that she lives with, and Amanda wants to act on her desires. Of course, Lydia lies sleeping, and she wants to act on her desires too.

“Lydia’s Body” is a dark story. The first half is about Amanda’s internal conflict, striving to remember herself and the future world, and fighting the guilt and shame that Lydia projects upon her desires. The second half is the conflict between Amanda and Lydia, two minds trapped in the same body.

Kaftan writes a strong character in Amanda. I wish there had been more of the clash between her and Lydia, merely foreshadowed in Amanda’s internal struggle, but Amanda’s characterization is interesting, and the ending provides a final counterpoint of darkness.