This novella is a powerful blend of crass, funny, sweet, sad and poignant. Alex, a curator at Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History, narrates most of this tale through the arc of him meeting and falling for the engimatic and crass Sing Song.
Alex soon discovers that Song is a Polymorph–a human able to alter her appearance and physicality at will. The rare genetic ability is much reviled, so Alex must keep Song’s secret and adapt to being with a “different” person every week, most everything changes except for her eyes and voice. This part of the tale almost hits an erotic/romantic tone.
But a darker tale emerges in Alex’s search for the true Song. She knows more than most what it means to be judged on appearance. Her ability to alter her look to meet Alex’s or society’s or her family’s expectations only obscures her true self. The turn toward the serious and sad startles with its raising of new issues: dysmorphia and gender dysphoria among others.
The novella is highly recommended. The use of true Chicago as the setting, was mere icing for this Chicago transplant.
In Her Eyes appears in The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Novellas: 2015 edited by Paula Guran and published by Prime Books. It first appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, January/February 2014.
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