Thursday, December 3, 2020

Wraeththu 1: The Enchantments of Flesh and Spirit by Storm Constantine

Wraeththu 1
The Enchantments of Flesh and Spirit
by Storm Constantine
1987 Macdonald & Co

I was told there would be penis flowers.  Where are the penis flowers?

The Wraeththu are an evolved strain of humanity that live in an ill defined post-apocalyptic waste-ish land.  No sense of how far in the future - Wraeththu have been around a couple hundred years, but some of that presumably before the series of small things that led to Earth's decay.  There are still functioning vehicles and an abundance of commercial goods.

The Wraeththu are all male - there is some lip service to them being hermaphroditic, androgynous, or beyond human gender, but they're all dudes.  They reproduce by maybe doing sex to human males and turning them into Wraeththu, as well as being able to reproduce among themselves, though this evidently happens rarely and isn't explained.

Young Pellaz is a human boy who is picked up by travelling Wraeththu Cal who turns him into their kind.  They travel around a bit meeting other Wraeththu, Pellaz gets shot in the head, he heals, Cal and Pellaz are separated, Pellaz is told he'll be king of the Wraeththu because he's the prettiest or something, the end.

Poor worldbuilding, no plot to speak of, and anything of interest is hidden behind a curtain.  Few details of Pell's transformation, or how he was recreated after being shot, given that Pell was drugged unconscious through both.

Described as erotica, this is the most chaste novel I've ever read.  I had to go back and re-read lines to figure out where she faded to black.  Two characters hold hands then they're eating breakfast and you just assume something happened.  No mention of how they have sex, other than there are ways to do it that cause pregnancy and some that don't, kind of like human hetereo sex.  Then there are the flower penises, which, like all explicit sexual acts, are completely absent from this installment. 

The book has a nasty habit of just declaring something and then showing something else. Wraeththu are said to be incapable of individual love, yet every character pines over someone. They are beyond masculine concepts like war, which is why they will wipe out humanity under a central dictatorship. And they don't believe in rape, while the closest they come to consent is violating hypnotized teenagers.

On one level it reads like rural gay teen wish fulfillment - a sexy man comes to your crappy small town and whisks you away to a more exciting world.  But mostly it reads as female fascination with a sexless concept of homosexuality, like a twelve year old rubbing two Ken dolls together, only less graphic.  It's telling that the only female character is only there to hook two guys up in a goth club.

To say something nice, it comes before Vampire: The Masquerade, with it's vague pseudo-vampires and distinct clans, as well and Neil Gaiman's Sandman which has a similar vibe at its worst.  It has language that implies sex, violence, and horror, but there is none here.

Plot wise it may be some kind of sprawling Dune-like epic across various installments that can only be appreciated in its entirety, and I'm not exactly the target audience for this kind of thing, but I've seen referenced to how f'ed up this series is supposed to be, and it just ain't here.

Available overpriced on Amazon

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