Wednesday, December 7, 2011

REVIEW: TASH by Hilde Orens

While the execution has a few flaws, the concept of Hilde Orens' TASH is quite fascinating. Basically, we're presented with a stood-up, fed-up, beat-up heterosexual man who seemingly has nothing left to lose. The victim of a brutal assault, he awakens in a new world that is very different from our own.

As you would expect, issues of gender and sexuality are glossed over at first, as Tim focusses on the practical differences between this new race/culture and our own. It's things like not needing to go to the washroom (they use everything they consume), being able to read minds, and not understanding the concept of money (a handshake and a thank you is payment enough for anything) that consume his first few days among the Tashians.

That's one of the things that bothered me about the story. Tim seems far too accepting of his predicament, even given the miserable day that preceded his journey, and not as desperate to get home as you might expect.

Seemingly genderless, the Tashians nevertheless appear more masculine than feminine, creating a confusing situation for Tim. As their friendship grows into something more, and he finds himself coming to love this strange, transparent, watery figure, he struggles with his own sexual identity. It isn't until we encounter male and female non-Tashians that we realise their race is distinct, at which time Tim's confusion turns to confrontation.

That's the other thing that bothered me about the story. Tim's confused sexuality is entirely plausible, given the nature of the Tashians, but the sudden emergence of his proud, fierce homosexuality in the face of heterosexual confrontation is a little hard to swallow.

Fortunately, the conclusion justifies most of those issues, creatively explaining away the grey areas. Definitely a happily-ever-after tale with a twist, it's still nice to read a love story that's more cute than sexy, and which is so positive in its message.

While the dialogue was a little weak in parts, the worldbuilding was well done, and the clash of cultures handled very well. There are really only 2 characters we need to care about, and they are very well developed. The secondary characters are a little thin, but they serve their purpose. Overall, this was a good read, and one that's short enough to warrant some patience along the way.

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