Strange Horizons, 27 February 2006

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"Historians and Degenerates" by Joey Comeau

"Historians and Degenerates" by Joey Comeau is the story of a man who has lost his wife to the Revolution.  Well, not really.  She has "gone off the grid" in order to become a kind of cultural revolutionary referred to as a Historian.  She publishes a biography of her sex life with the narrator over the course of their marriage.  The story takes place in a Orwellian near future that has censored sex to the point that any type of sexual content has become illegal.
The idea that the narrator could be freed from his own sexual stagnation by reading his ex-wife’s version of their sex life is an interesting one that Comeau illustrates with a deft and subtle hand.  That subtlety is probably the most effective element of the story.  The narrator’s world is almost our own.  The censorship described is familiar enough to seem possible and frightening enough to want to avoid.  This is a quiet story, and although it isn’t really breaking any new ground, it seems particularly well-timed as a gentle warning.