The Liminal People: A NovelThe Liminal People: A Novel by Ayize Jama-Everett

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

not bad for a first novelistic effort. i had higher hopes for it at the beginning than proved out, but there was still a lot to like.

one: it starts in africa. wishing deeply for more sf not from the US or britain, so i was happyhappyhappy. even if the main character is american, at least he’s not your standard white guy, and fortunately he’s not even white. and he lives in morocco.

i do wish the narrative had stayed there, but alas, we had to go to london.

and our protag himself… he starts out a definitely confused guy. he’s got powers he doesn’t fully understand, or know what to do with. he’s fundamentally a thrall to an even more weird moroccan, doing the boss-man’s bidding even tho he doesn’t always like it.

and then he gets the call… and we’re off to london. where the story becomes sort of a missing-person mystery.

genre-bending, all to the good! i’m still happy, altho not happy to have left morocco. our protag is called to a former love’s aid, and he goes. and we have a couple of clunky scenes, and a downright weird description or two (a woman’s breasts “flowing” struck me as particularly odd. just how do a woman’s breasts flow? i would think that would be pretty icky.).

and then…. things blow up! mayhem starts! R-E-V-E-N-G-E!!!!!!!!!

most of the mayhem is handled pretty well, altho our body-guru seems to lose track of his testosterone levels with alarming regularity. the end is left a bit open, no doubt for the sequels on their way.

i do hope when the sequels hit the presses, the author will have taken more time with them. by which i mean, relaxed. thrown in some stuff that doesn’t move the plot along. he’s actually pretty good at making whole people, but in a book like this, that just makes a person want more of the whole person, not just the superpowers and the things-blowing-up and the cosmic war in the offing. so… here’s hoping.

just one more thing.

the author tosses around the word “faggot” in a couple of places, used in these instances to mean “weak” or “craven.” now, for those of you who write, please consider: estimates are that maybe as many as 1 in 10 people are gay or lesbian. even if that’s a little high, however many gay or lesbian people there are, they have non-gay or non-lesbian people who love them, so we can probably figure that at any rate 1 in 10 people might have cause to dislike that use of “faggot” quite intensely.

and is that particular word necessary here? no other word will do? perhaps the author felt very strongly that “faggot” is the word the speakers would have chosen, and maybe for the sake of verisimilitude, it was worth the risk of offense. or maybe he didn’t really consider it offensive. maybe that word doesn’t really seem to apply to particular, individual humans for him–it’s just another word that means “weak” or “craven.”

but! i really have to ask… is it worth it? is it worth risking 1/10th of your audience’s ire?

i’m not suggesting that writers should avoid offending anyone, ever. most people find my writing offensive enough (although usually for the content of its character [meaning], not the color of its skin [word choice]) and i frankly do not give a rat’s ass. but that’s because those people are not my audience, and if i offend them, i do it knowingly, and with glee.

but not because i was too lazy to go find an inoffensive synonym.

just sayin’.