Those of you who are frequent visitors know just how much I love the erotic works of Giselle Renarde. She is a wonderful author with an instinctive flair for writing realistic characters to whom readers can easily relate. No matter how fantastic or commonplace the setting, her characters draw us in, make us feel welcome, and gently encourage us to enjoy ourselves.
The settings and storylines of Future Histories are definitely among the most fantastic Giselle has written, and the exploration of gender and sexuality is both deeper and broader than ever before. Once again, it’s the characters who encourage us to embrace the new and the unusual, as opposed to being distanced or alienated by it.
ToyGirls of the Personal Genome is a beautiful story of a lonely lesbian who decides to take a chance on contacting a ToyGirl from the personal ads. In this future, ToyGirls are genetically engineered boys who have been extensively feminized for the sole purpose of serving as Geisha-like transsexual companions. To say too much about what Roisin encounters, and what she learns about herself, would be to ruin the magic of the story. Instead, I will just say this is classic Giselle – sweet, romantic, tender, and completely rewarding.
The Travesties is a darker story, but one that also delves more deeply into the fantastic. In this future, environmental pollution has given rise to a new breed of humanity, one for which gender is entirely fluid. Sadly, humanity itself has not evolved much beyond the present, and these new ‘mutations’ (demeaningly referred to as Travestites) are ostracised for being different. The story here is both sad and uplifting, bringing together a young man with the open heart and open mind, and a suicidal Travesty in desperate need of his love.
They Called Me Hijra, the final story in the collection, is probably the most realistic of all three . . . not that it’s a future I hope we ever see. In a future where the success of the call centre industry has led to the Indian culture being forcibly Westernized, the once spiritually revered Hijra cast have been all-but destroyed and forced into hiding. The story here is tender and personal, with two experienced Hijra coming together to heal, nurture, and welcome the newest member of their community. Although heartbreaking in places, it’s also the story with the happiest ending.
Overall, the themes here are of fluidity and choice. Gender and sexuality are neither solely attributes of birth, nor the product of societal conditioning. Instead, they are deeply personal aspects of individual identity, as wondrous and as diverse as the people expressing them. These are stories that entertain and arouse, but they are also stories that make you think. I loved each and every one of them, and sincerely hope you’ll take a chance on sharing that joy.