Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Corporate Takeover by Lyka Bloom

Corporate Takeover opens with an uncomfortable argument between spouses, one based on the all-too common issues of taking one another for granted and not recognizing their contributions to the household. There’s no affair involved, not even a suspicion of cheating, just a husband who has been fortunate enough to coast along on his inheritance and a wife who wishes he’d listen a little more often. That makes what follows a bit more interesting, taking a typical revenge story and turning it into something more . . . instructive.

In Part One of the story, while his wife is off taking care of her mother, Tom jets off to a corporate retreat for a business meeting. There are immediate, subtle hints that this isn't a normal retreat, leaving the reader to wonder just how the transformations will progress, but Lyka Bloom doesn't wait long to drop the big reveal on Tom and the other attendees:

“We have spent years developing a treatment that will erase the old you and put something new in place. You will have no recollection of your life before, and you will learn to be the woman each of your sponsors has designed for you.”

While the story is lighter on the ‘how and why’ than some of Bloom’s stories, that element of mystery fits with Tom’s experience. We get to watch as the persona of Katie is built within him, and watch as he struggles to reconcile her with the man he’s always been . . . until he’s finally ready to ask for help.

As Part Two of the story opens, Tom seems to be slowly becoming more and more accepting of Katie, but inside he’s still fighting the idea. Whereas the first story was one of subtle hints and gentle transformations, this one is far more about forced feminization and more traumatic transformations. It’s a darker, edgier story than the first, and I loved the way Tom struggled mentally:

“Sometimes I get these weird waves of anxiety, this voice telling me that I look all wrong, and not in the way I think. When I see myself with my flat chest and the thing between my legs, I know it's wrong, but then I start to think that it's my face and voice and skin that's all wrong.”

The story twists more than once following that admission, so don’t expect Tom’s transition to be at all simple, but I liked the way everything developed. Overall, Corporate Takeover is a bit of an odd story, taking the genre in a direction you definitely don’t expect, but one that’s filled with the little touches that Lyka Bloom does so well.

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