Please do not read this comment if you want to read the book.

This was my problem: Rien is a woman who prefers women. We're told she's slept with men in the past, but she finds women more physically (and seemingly emotionally) more attractive.

1) She falls in love with Perceval (with no reflection at all on the blood relationship between them...even though Rien is briefly squicked out by another incestuous relationship in the book), but of course Perceval is unattainable, being asexual. Perceval tells Rien they can have a platonic marriage where Rien takes a lover. So even in a society where marriage between two women is possible, God forbid they have sex inside it.

2) Rien has sex with Mallory, who doesn't seem to have a gender or sex since the book does not refer to Mallory as he or she. However, biologically Mallory is female above the waist and male below it. When Rien says she prefers sex with women, Mallory uses nanotechnology to grow a set of female genitalia- but doesn't get rid of the male one, which seems like it would be equally possible. Because God forbid women sleep with women.

3) Towards the end of the book, Rien is attracted to a woman named Jordan. But what she concentrates on are the wings and the fur and the other things that make Jordan "exotic" for her. Because God forbid that Rien be attracted to someone who looks like a human woman.

4) Rien dies to save Perceval. Of course she does.

In general, I don't trust the way Bear writes lesbians. Witness the lesbian woman falling in love with the straight woman who has to be ordered to sleep with her in Blood and Iron, and the very sketchy lesbian relationship in Carnival, while the gay male relationships and the straight ones are complex and rich. This time, it infuriated me that something as simple as sex between two women is put off, deferred, or has the male interjected in such a way.


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