Swishy in Satin: A TG Mixed Tape
A TG MIXED TAPE
Edited by PersnicketyBitch
A sextet of stories from six very different authors. Hit play on July’s Mixed Tape flash fiction collection for sea-creatures, sexy transformations, an interview with Amy Komori AND MORE!
My heart's in the basement
My weekend's at an all time low
'Cause she's hoping to score
So I can't see her letting him go
Walk out of her heart
Walk out of her mind
Anointed with the ejaculate of The Penitent, Keira steps into the circle. Glyphs of fresh blood swirl to the centre. Those that mark the boundary are crusted. And the ejaculate is mixed with blood, for The Penitent’s skin is flayed and the wounds of Æther’s exile weep profusely and do not clot. Keira chooses her footfalls, treads lightly. But despite her care the tip of a toe is wet and it smears when it touches the ground. The humbled eternal watches the ceremony, and the others, over all the vast crafting hall of The Academy, held and pinned to the wall just above its entrance by barbed chains and iron spikes driven deep into the bedrock.
No way is Keira going to fuck this up. Not with that jerkass Ryan watching.
That liar. Cold, calculating, arrogant, fucker absolute. Dickhead, wanker and prick (but maybe bitch would be more appropriate now).
His body is wrapped in black cloth, tattered at the edges. Shadows gather in the hollows of his high cheekbones. The skin of his brow is stretched. His silver hair tied back in a bun. He is unsupervised. Already, the masters and mistresses trust him.
He is so one of them.
It should have been –
Keira woke this morning to find Miranda curled at the end of her bed. She scratched her friend behind the ears.
“Hullo there,” she said. The familiar purred and stretched. “It’s been a while. Sonia working you hard?”
The cat shrugged. “I heard the stars marked you one of the lustful youths,” she said “I wanted to see how you’d changed.”
She looked Keira over with her golden eyes. “Here, do my chin.”
– Miranda in Ryan’s place, but when the planets had aligned for her, he’d taken her body – leaving her in his, comatose, near to death for three months – and usurped her ordained position.
As Keira reaches the centre of the circle, Ryan begins his invocation.
This is the first time she has been used as an instrument. The others have told her –
Kamil, as she took him into her mouth: “If it looks like a peeper or vee-jay, or feels like a peeper or vee-jay it’s probably close enough, so work with it.”
Elena, as she slid a hand down to grasp Keira’s tumescent cock: “When the circle is activated gravity’ll go AWOL. That’s cool, but don’t eat too much beforehand.”
Zephier, as he rolled her off his robe, shook out the wrinkles, put it on: “Try to top, it’s easier to reposition if they get shifty. They won’t instigate rough stuff, but they will run with your lead, maybe further than you’re comfortable with.”
– what to expect.
The blood glyphs boil away, revealing the chalk symbols below. The air steamy and humid. And there is something in the haze. Her feet leave the ground, her arms stretch out, up. As they entangle, far below them an artefact begins to take shape.
It looks like a tape recorder.
Swishy in Satin
A TG MIXED TAPE
No Greater Love
Species Experiment 149348
By Jenny North
By Once a Boy Now a Girl
Whisper of the Witch
By Amy Komori
The Mixed Tape Interview: Amy Komori
(Edited by PersnicketyBitch)
“Sir it clearly says here that you are female,” the woman said beaming at me with a smile so sickly-sweet that it made me want to puke.
“Do I look like a woman?”
Her smile lost just a little bit of its lustre. “I really can’t comment on your physical condition. If the form says you’re a woman, then as far as the bureau is concerned you are a woman.”
Dammit, I hated the Bureau of Identity Management! I tried to make my voice sound as calm and reasonable as I could manage. “There’s been some sort of mistake. I received a notice in the mail that my sex had been reclassified to female.”
“Oh, of course. Why didn’t you just say that to begin with?”
Bureaucrats! I shook my head and levelled my gaze on her. “I’ve been trying to for the last hour and a half!”
“One moment please. Let me take a look at your records. It says here that you submitted a request to have your gender reclassified.”
“That’s a mistake. I never submitted any request.”
“I’m afraid, sir, that the mistake is yours.”
“Yesterday, I got a notice from my employer that I’d been terminated. Apparently, they found it just a little suspicious that my sex didn’t match the government records! I’ve tried to be patient, but I’m at my wits end. Tell me how to fix this.”
She slipped a paper onto the desk and leaned in close. “You can try fighting this, but the bureau will never admit any wrong. You’re only other avenue will be to complete a 92-346B form requesting sex correction.”
I grabbed the paper and read it over. There was a whole lot of legalese, but it seemed to be exactly what I needed.
“Once you’ve completed the form you’ll need to take it to the Request Processing Division. I’ll transfer your name into the waiting queue.” She smiled pointing across the room.
It took all of about ten minutes for me to finish filling out the form, but it took another thirty for them to finally call my name, again.
I walked up to the counter, slammed the paper down and let the girl on the other side do all the talking.
“Well, ma’am, it looks like everything here is in order. I’ll just need to see proof of identity.”
I whipped my id card out and waited quietly as she slid the form and the card into her scanner. “Thank you. It will be just a moment.”
“Really, it will be that fast?”
“Oh, no gene re-sequencing is a lengthy process. It will only a moment before you receive approval.”
“What the hell are you talking about?”
“Why your request to have your physical sex corrected, of course! And look your request has been approved.”
“Wait, what? That can’t be right! You’ve made a mistake.”
“Oh no ma’am, the bureau doesn’t make mistakes. Have a nice day.”
D.A.W. is a fan of science-fiction and fantasy who brings his love of the genres to TG fiction. He is the author of "Facades", the "Ragnarok Rising Trilogy" ("Incompatible: Birth of a Spellbinder", "Transfigured: Ascension of a Spellbinder" and "Destiny: Legacy of a Spellbinder") and is in the process of serializing his science-fiction series “Battle For Earth”. He has contributed to several shared universes including Enemyoffun's DarkRealms Universe ("Hunger Pangs") and Morpheus' Twisted Universe ("Virtually Twisted").
Susan stared into the mirror feeling stunned and then watched as the reflection of her handsome husband reached up to touch his rugged jaw. The feeling of whiskers under her questing fingers told her that she wasn’t hallucinating.
“This is impossible.”
The sound of Kevin’s deep masculine voice was disconcerting. Then she reached down between her legs and felt an organ that shouldn’t have been there, but what was even more disconcerting was that she was now sporting Kevin’s normal morning wood!
“Kevin? Kevin, what the hell’s going on?”
The sound of her husband’s voice thundering out was odd enough but walking with a damn hard-on was even worse. Susan headed out of the bathroom and through the bedroom.
Susan wandered out of the bedroom calling for her husband and noticed that for the first time in months she didn’t have a headache. The house was quite large, larger than they needed, but after his parents’ death he’d wanted to move into the family home.
As she continued her search Susan couldn’t help noticing how good she felt. Her body felt strong and light, full of masculine vitality. Walking through the living room Susan spotted the pictures from their honeymoon. ‘Has it really been five years?’ she wondered. Without moving closer Susan discovered she could make out every detail of the happy couple sitting on a beach blanket.
“That’s right, Kevin has better than twenty-twenty eyesight.” she said, amazed. The man was tall with a chiseled body from his four years in the Marine Corps and had the dark good looks of his Spanish heritage. The woman in the picture was shorter, but not short, and had enough curves to fill out her blue bikini. Fair of hair and skin, Susan could see the start of what had turned out to be an awful sunburn.
Susan poked her head into the study. Kevin’s desk was a mess, and she felt a jolt of concern at the stack of documents from the hospital. ‘God, I’ve grown to hate hospitals,’ she thought and headed toward the back deck.
As she made her way to the deck Susan thought about the strange shop they’d found yesterday. She’d felt well enough, for once, to go out and had enjoyed wandering through the odd little store looking at the curious objects while Kevin talked to an old man in a strange robe.
This time she breathed a sigh of relief as the blonde sitting at the patio table turned, wincing in pain, and looked up at her. Susan moved forward and saw that next to the coffee cup was a wad of bloody tissue.
“K-Kevin, are you okay? How is this possible?”
Kevin gestured at an orb sitting on the table. “The old man said that it could save you, if I had the courage.” Then, before Susan could respond, Kevin lifted a hammer from her lap and brought it down on the orb shattering it into a thousand pieces.
Zapper started writing in December 2011 and has contributed a number of short and long stories to various websites. A few of his TG stories include: The Security Consultant Trilogy, The Bounty Hunters Trilogy, "Conan and the Blade of Costa" and his first story, "A Favor for Anna."
Where was I? Was I on a surgical table? It felt cold, like a table. I tried to move my arms, but I was tied down. I struggled against the restraints, but nothing happened, other than a sweat breakout. Where the fuck was I?
Hands gripped my arm. Odd hands, with webbed fingers. The fingers probed at my elbow, then my shoulder. The hands entered my view, and touched my face. They were green, but not scaley. They looked like human hands, but green and webbed. Finally, the being that the hands belonged to hunched over me and inspected my face. I tried to scream, but I couldn’t, for some reason.
“Oh, are you attempting to vocalize? You cannot, I am sorry. I took your vocal processing organs away. It was much easier than when I removed your legs, surprisingly.” The creature smiled. “Oh, do not worry, Mr. Johnson, your body is being put to good use.”
The table started to move, to tilt, bringing me upright. I felt light-headed. A window stretched out before me, looking out upon some city somewhere. I think it was Chicago.
“Your species is quite interesting, Mr. Johnson,” the creature - was he an alien? - came in front of me again. He had a scalpel in his hand. “Unlike most, you have not detected us yet, even though we have been here for six days.” The alien stuck the scalpel into my chest, but I didn’t feel a thing. The table and the restraints were still the only thing I could feel. “Please, do not move. I still need to retrieve your lungs and kidneys.” He smiled. “I almost lost you when I removed your heart, but as soon as I placed the survival jelly on your brain, that took care of everything.”
The alien walked away and then wheeled up a tray table with three glass jars on it. Two were empty, and the third had strange slugs in it.
“Soon, I will perform the funnest experiment.” He tapped the slug jar. “Your brain will be evenly distributed among these Krytons, and then you will be left on your homeworld to find a new body.” Why?! I wanted to scream, but no sound came out. He smiled again, and then dug into me with his surgical tools.
I had a thousand eyes. They saw a shape that looked roughly human. Where was I? Why was I? My eyes dove for the shape.
I opened my eyes again, and only had two. Steven Johnson. That’s who I was! I remembered! The… slugs… I’m just a mass of slugs invading this person’s body now. Who was I now?
“Hey, Sandra! Get yo’ ass in here! Fella spent sixty on you!”
I looked down at my body, at the tattoos on my massive breasts, and gulped.
I could finally scream, and when I did, I swear I heard glass breaking.
Hikaro has been reading transgender stories for some years now, but only broke into the writing business in late 2011, when he posted his first story to TG Storytime. Since then, he's garnered critical acclaim (in his own mind) with stories like "A First-Person Account" and "Brave New World". An odd sort of man, he likes to claim he has drinks with Elvis on the Titanic during the weekends.
The young mermaid sat behind her desk rubbing the bridge of her nose as the anxious-looking starfish watched her expectantly.
"Sandy," Arista said finally, "you are not transgender."
"I think I might be."
"You reproduce asexually," Arista said. "You don't even have a gender."
"But you're a mermaid!" the sea star protested. "You're like part human and part fish! And you have a gender."
Sandy waggled an arm, the starfish version of nodding. "It's just...there's been a lot of talk going around lately..."
Arista sighed. The discovery of the writings from the surface world had caused quite a stir, especially among the fish and invertebrates that didn’t adhere to simple male and female conventions. "Sandy, that doesn't really apply to you--"
"But sex is just what's on the outside! They say that sex is what's between your legs, and gender is what's between your ears."
"You don't have ears. Or legs, exactly."
"I know! Why do you think I'm so confused?"
"Merciful Poseidon," she muttered under her breath. "Okay. Well, are you attracted to other starfish?"
"I don't understand."
"Like, romantically or sexually."
"I don't think so," Sandy admitted. "But that doesn't matter, right? Who I'm attracted to is different from who I am."
"I...suppose that's true..." Arista shook her head. "So, why do you think you're transgender?"
"It's just...I know I'm asexual, but I feel like I have a gender."
"Do you feel like you're a male or a female?"
"How do I know the difference?"
She furrowed her brow, trying to figure out what that would mean to a starfish. "I think you'd just know,” she decided.
There was a pause, then the arm-waggle nod again. "Could I be both?"
"Sure, I guess. Some starfish are hermaphroditic. Maybe go hang out with some of them and see if it feels right."
"I'll do that!" Sandy said brightly. "Thanks!" Arista watched as the sea star slowly crept out the door.
A few minutes later there was a knock and a pair of eye stalks popped around the doorway. The snail started to enter and Arista held up her hand.
"Wait, let me guess. You feel like you're becoming a woman?"
"How did you--?"
"You're a sequential hermaphrodite. You are becoming a woman."
The snail considered that. "Oh, wow. Thanks!"
"Don't mention it," Arista said, checking the time. Cool, she could knock off early for once. Plenty of time to get to the concert and meet up with her sisters.
Jenny North has lately been posting stories on Fictionmania and is really enjoying talking about herself in the third person. If you enjoyed this story, she recommends her feel-good short story "Legacy." But if you thought this was absolute drivel, then you're obviously a discerning reader who demands exceptionalism, and she respects that about you! She humbly suggests that someone as smart and good-looking as you might enjoy "Broken Echo."
I sat at the window and stared out at the land which I once shared with the man I loved. He had called me a freak and vowed he would never return but I knew he would. I waited and waited and waited. He had to return, he loved me and he’d promised he wouldn’t leave. I sat for days and days. I knew he would not return on the fifth day after I heard a message from him on the answering machine. I reeked of sadness and my makeup was ruined by my tears. I had to leave the empty farm and go to the town to buy some groceries. The stares I got, I knew what they were saying without even listening. They called me tranny with their eyes. I was followed around by the staff, they pretended to do jobs but I could tell by their stares that they were watching my every move. I left to the sound of their hateful murmurs.
As I drove up through the trees to my farm, I could still hear the sound of his voice. I told him everything, I told him about how I dressed up at six, how I got diagnosed at ten. How I transitioned and had my operation at eighteen and he pushed me away, called me a fag, I could hear all of them: him, the town, the bullies and the bigots. I was nothing they said, I should go die they said. I couldn’t take it. I grabbed a bottle of pills from my bag and I ran into my bathroom and ran a bath as I screamed out before breaking down.
Locking the door behind me I slowly slipped into the bath and let my body sink into the warm water before opening the bottle and dropping out several white pills, consuming them and repeating the process until I had emptied the bottle before discarding it. I turned on the house’s surround sound system to play “Invisible” by Skylar Grey, my pick up song, and began to feel drowsy. The music blocked out the loud silence and I started to sing along to the song as my body became numb and started to submerge. “Even when I'm walking on a wire, even when I set myself on fire, Why do I always feel invisible, invisible, Every day I try to look my best Even though inside I'm such a mess, Why do I always feel invisible, invisible” I sang before finally losing consciousness and slipping beneath the water, my mouth letting the water rush in and down my motionless body’s throat.
I remember waking up. I remember seeing him. Waiting beside me. I closed my eyes. He was gone. I closed my eyes he was…
Once A Boy Now A Girl (Or Jynx) only recently started writing but has had a keen interest in TG media since their early teens. With their namesake and “The Underwear Fairy” being the most viewed of their solo stories. They are also one of the Co-Authors of “Living Lights”.
Once A Boy Now A Girl is currently working on their “Peace Corp” series which expands upon several characters and organisations such as DEDAD, The Seer and The Dimension Eater that were introduced in “Living Lights” and is halfway through writing the penultimate chapter of “Once A Boy Now A Girl”.
Do you want to know what happens?
Almost a month I’d been feeling tender in various places, not much energy, sleeping lightly if at all, then shuffling through the day.
Another night of restless legs and sleeping in fits and starts, awake almost on the hour if the glowing numbers hovering over the bedside table were being honest with me.
And in the morning?
Do you want to know what happens?
For me it was waking up soaking, as if I’d peed the bed. Rolling from under the clammy covers, my whole body coated with it. Sweat or who the fuck knows. In the mirror, me but not me.
Narrower, more rounded shoulders, soft mounds, hips a flaring bell-shape. Of course I looked down. The space between my legs wet and soft, nothing dangling, a thick, curled mass of black wiry hair covered in diamond-dew. I looked back in the mirror and saw my face.
My Not-Me face, sister face to my old one. The forehead not as flat, the brows higher, the eyes larger and more heavily lashed, the nose the same shape but smaller, with tiny nostrils flaring as I breathed in a shallow, sniffing way, startled respiration, lips just a little more bow-shaped, the chin not as tall.
I touched my wet skin, softer than after a shower, softer and slicker than after a mid-summer’s heavy workout. Spider web down.
Holy fuck, I say out loud. Holy fuck.
I didn’t need to feel there to know I now had a labial slit bisecting that small mounded area, my vagina. And that its opening leads to ovaries, uterus and womb. Months ahead promising a cycle ending with menopause, interrupted if I wanted by carrying to term and bearing a child, fruiting from inside me. I felt fertile and complete.
Nothing was missing. Nothing had been subtracted. I was whole, Not-Me. But as I stared at myself, in the mirror and cupped my pliable breasts and pushed them upward to make cleavage, as I ran my hands down and out along the widening hip-slopes of my new physical geography, as I showered and dried my hair and put on my old familiar guy clothes, Not-Me was becoming Me again.
Excitement, anticipation. A new life. It would be hard. It would be incredibly difficult.
Do you want to know what happens?
If you’re me, you call the friend whose way with probabilities and cosmic energies made this thing you’d wanted since your parents first told you boys couldn’t be Pippi Longstocking, the girls next door wouldn’t let you be a sister playing house, you stole Seventeen and Sassy off the magazine shelf at the supermarket, what you’d ached for even as you pushed your unwanted penis deep into places you burned to know for yourself, from the inside.
You call her.
It worked, you say.
That’s what happens.
Amy is the creator of the Amy Komori series.
Tell us a little bit about yourself?
I started in a really small town that is pretty poor and has a very high crime rate. I don't think it's by far the most dangerous place in the world or anything like that, just that I was very glad to get out of there. I grew up in the suburbs and got into music and skating pretty early. The whole time I was keeping up this punk/skater persona in public, at home I was shaving my legs in secret, making my own clothes and practicing cheerleading moves and idolizing Madonna and Janet Jackson. When I got old enough, I left for school and just kept going and now I don't even live in the US anymore!
What sort of stories do you write?
Well, mostly I just write the "Amy Komori" stories, which are all first-person narratives about a girl who started off as a guy. The shorthand used to be more along the lines of "a guy who was transformed into a girl and had to put up with it," but that's kind of changed and now it's definitely "a girl who was once a guy but would rather not think about that so much because it doesn't help her current situation much. Or at all." I write what I like to think of as feminist gender change fantasy fiction with a kind of cinema verite or documentarian approach to everyday life. The magic transformation part doesn't interest me at all, really, or not as much as the living gender and being gender aspect. And usually the characters are involved in something related to music or skating or just a vaguely punk outlook.
What books have influenced you most as a writer?
Thomas Pynchon, Sylvia Plath, Kurt Vonnegut, Joyce Carol Oates for the most part. Especially "Foxfire" by Oates. The book, not the movie. I saw the movie and kind of liked it because of Jenny Shimizu but it bothered me and after I read the book and I loved it I realized why. The book is just so much stronger and its setting is the 1950s, not the 1990s.
What's the best piece of writing advice you've ever received?
I've actually never gotten any! Does anyone have any? Sometimes, especially early on when the Amy stories were kind of a novelty I guess a few people would really passionately hammer me if they felt I wasn't being true to my concept. I really enjoyed that and it made me try to think things through more!
How do you think you’ve changed as a writer since you started publishing stories? You’ve revised a lot of your work over the years, what sort of things have you changed and why?
I think I've changed as a person. I was just starting to experiment with gender expression when I started and I think I was pretty naive. I probably still am in a lot of ways but since I've come out to friends and been more free to be me, and I've been more involved with feminism online and spent more time learning about the world, many of the things I had Amy and friends doing and thinking didn't seem real or true to me. Because I've gotten better at writing and thinking both. I hope! Which also answers the second question. My thinking on what it means to be a girl and then a woman have evolved as I've changed and worked with therapists and had deeper conversations with my girlfriends. So I wanted Amy to reflect that more and I wanted the stories to be harder edged about certain things like presentation, self-image and relating to guys and their way of dealing with women. Also, I wanted to be more descriptive and have Amy be a more reliable narrator. And cover up some huge continuity errors I had her make the first go around!
Also, some of the early Amy stories were dealing with more recent events. The Emily relationship in my own life had just ended badly. I was like 27 when I started writing these. I'm older now, of course, and in a very different place in my life and on much more solid ground so the writing reflects that.
By your own admission, you’ve included a lot of autobiographical elements in your stories. How do you go about mixing the fact with the fiction?
Well, Amy is basically me, or at least the me I was when I first started writing the stories. Angrier and more naive and more confused. And her relationship with Emily, at least up to the magical gender change, is pretty much straight-forward autobiography, although personality-wise I've always been more Amy than Martin. And I've never worked at a video store! So what I do is I just kind of trance out and start thinking Amy's thoughts and these are always in the form of telling about something that happened. The stories are totally stream-of-conscious in the early drafts. The characters are either totally real people I know, or people combined or merged.
Emily is a real person, only in real life she's short. Her artistic side, though, comes from another real person. Amy's best friend Sarah is based completely on the real-life Emily's best friend. She's an example of a straight-up steal from life. Michelle Cho is a combination of a few different people. The real-life Lena is actually a guy. Gina is based physically on an Alloy model from the late 90s/early 00's but her personality is a number of different girls I knew at the time. Tam is physically from the same catalogs but she's largely an invention beyond that. There really is a Heidi Fleegleman, but in high school, she and I got along really well and she gave me Gummi worms all the time and kind of adopted me as her pet, which was weird but flattering. And she did eventually come out in university. Mrs. Komori, unfortunately, is completely invented.
As far as the plots go, I do try to inflict literary artistry on it and certain things end up changed simply because when this or that real incident happened, obviously I had never been gender or race changed by magic. And the other people in the scene were perceiving me as a skinny little guy, not a skinny little girl. I mix and match things, change chronology, invent dialogue to fit whatever the scene or narrative direction requires. Some things are just descriptions of things that really happened. Did I get arrested as a junior high student for stealing magazines and get put on probation? YES. Did I ever go with friends to a gas station and stuff candy bars in my pockets right in front of the cashier? YES. Did I get forced to join the cheerleading squad? NO. Oh, and was there a barfing incident in front of a club after a show? Yes, actually, there was. I got bodyslammed by a frat guy once and that got into one of the stories. Some of the parties are documentarian, too. But it's chopped up and rearranged and moulded to fit the theme.
Oh, the settings are all real places and I try to be meticulous in describing them as they really existed when we were there barfing or whatever we did in them.
Also, I have to say a lot of the outfits described are things actually worn either by me or friends of mine. Amy's ambivalence towards her femininity but willingness to get talked into dresses or costumes? Totally true.
Have any of your characters taken on lives of their own and moved away from the people that inspired them?
Emily, most definitely. The real-life version is married and has kids now, but her personality is still very much the early story Emily, very snarky and mean at times. I mean, she's cool and a great mom and all and very reliable and steady. It's just the story version matures much faster yet stays kind of free-living, I guess. Every time I start writing Michelle Cho into an incident she just about takes over. She has more of her own life and probably the inspirations for her have become subdued.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I probably should subtract! Anyways, while I wrote the Amy stories thinking I'd have an audience of just me, there are like seven or eight or so people who have been amazingly supportive with critiques and reviews. It's so shocking when something personal you make actually affects others so much they want to tell you about it. I will forever be bowing in worship to them as the gods and goddesses of the Amy universe. It would have ceased to exist already without them. I love them very much for enjoying Amy and her friends! And also a shout-out to Red Elise and Chefness for believing in it so much they wrote stories using the Delacroix setting. We've diverged a lot since that started, so much so they're more like in a parallel universe to my stories now but they both write with true artistry.
Netflix’s new series Sense8, Andy and Lana Wachowski’s entry into the small screen arena (in cahoots with Babylon 5 scribe J. Michael Straczynski), is an unwieldy amalgam of the siblings’ most successful big screen outings, The Matrix (1999) and Cloud Atlas (2012). The show gets off to a shaky start, taking the entire runtime of Atlas (a three hour movie) to get to the point in the George Lucas/Joseph Campbell storytelling model that Neo’s first outing reaches in 30 minutes. It’s pacier than I’m making it sound. With eight leads, initially strangers with vastly different lives, spread over seven countries, Sense8 barrels from scene to scene in a mostly successful effort to keep everyone foregrounded. However, in between all the character introductions, reintroductions, brief check-ins and subplots there’s very little genuine forward momentum.
Sense8’s diverse cast of characters – Wolfgang, a German thief; Kala, an Indian pharmacist; Lito, a Mexican movie star; Sun, a South Korean business woman and martial artist; Will, a Chicago cop; Riley, an Icelandic DJ; Capheus, a Nairobian bus driver; and Nomi, a San-Francisco based hacker – find themselves telepathically linked. They can see what the others see. Feel what they feel. They can even take control of each other’s bodies. The group, along with the Morpheus like Jonas, a member of another cluster of sensates, are hunted by a nebulous malevolent organisation which employs/is run by the show’s Agent Smith stand in, Mr Whispers.
That’s a big cast. While Jonas and Whispers are minor presences, every member of the core ensemble is afforded an equal amount of screen time, and begin the show with a story unrelated to the overarching grand conspiracy plot. Sense8’s most engaging narrative thread revolves around Lito, his partner Hernando, and their enthusiastic beard Daniela. It’s all very telenovela (is that a volatile ex-lover I spy?), and the almost pastiche nature of their story and its execution imbue Lito’s sections with an invigorating irreverence. Of all the characters in the show Nomi, a trans woman, played by a trans actress, written for and directed by a trans filmmaker, has received the most attention. However, Lito and his dilemma regarding whether to come out publically as a gay man, even though it might hurt his career, no doubt also have their roots in Lana Wachowski’s experiences. A conversation between the two characters that takes up a significant portion of episode 9 is one of Sense8’s most heartfelt scenes.
The characters in Sense8 are cooler than you. Sun is deceptively quiet and reserved and could kick your ass into next week. Will is caring and driven and cool. Kala is sweet and cool. Capheus is idealistic and cool. Wolfgang is brooding and a rouge and hung like a horse and cool (there are a lot of sexy bits in Sense8, many of them queer, and the direction caters to All the Gazes, that’s pretty cool too). Riley’s situation is a bit more complicated but she’s still a cool person. As you watch Sense8, the Wachowskis and Straczynski want you to invest your hopes and dreams in their characters, they want you to aspire to be like them at their best. So it goes without saying that Nomi is an idealised character. It’s also worth noting that most of the idealised aspects of the character – i.e. the amazing hacking skills, the absolutely perfect girlfriend who lives only for her – are unrelated to her status as a trans woman. With Nomi Sense8’s creators have conceived a character who functions as both authentic representation and as a vehicle for the audience’s fantasies. These sorts of characters are tremendously empowering. We need more Nomi Marks on our screens.
Structurally Sense8 resembles Cloud Atlas (the film version), the transitions between narrative threads intended to illustrate larger thematic points about the commonality and interconnectedness of the human experience. The storytelling in Atlas is assured while Sense8 only ever coheres in short bursts, leaving the viewer with the impression that the Wachowski’s and Straczynski are simply mashing their program’s disparate elements together to see what sticks. This yields some fantastic sequences; a lengthy montage of characters imagining the moment of their birth is inspiring, transgressive and unlike anything you’ve ever seen on the small screen. It also results in the entirety of Kala’s story, which feels like it was conceived to address the conflict between science and religion, only for this theme to be neglected in the execution. This story concludes with the character improvising a bomb because, you see, Sense8’s super empathy grants its possessors the abilities/opportunities to maim and kill the shit out of their fellow human beings. The gleefully graphic action movie violence of Sense8’s final stretch is a blast, but a misstep in a program that is ultimately an impassioned call for tolerance, understanding, and the need to move beyond limiting social constructs regarding race, class, gender and sexuality.
Verdict: Sense8 is mixed bag. If it sounds like your sort of mixed bag give it a try. ~ PB
#eggmode is a platform for trans people to talk about their pre-transition experiences, especially those from the period of their lives where they didn’t think of themselves as transgender or non-binary. It’s a fantastic hashtag and the tweets that you’ll find there are affecting, candid, insightful and funny.
#eggmode emerged in response to the recently launched online zine Egg Mode; though you wouldn’t know it from a quick peruse of the hashtag which soon eclipsed its source. The areas of pre-transition experience addressed by Egg Mode are more specific (so far it focuses on pre-transition sexuality and desire), and it’s modus operandi more confrontational. You can read the first issue of Egg Mode HERE.
While this article discusses visual pornography, the principles that the author advocates regarding depictions of sex and bodies in a sexual light are applicable in any medium.
I hope you enjoyed this month’s collection of stories. What was your favourite story? Have you watched Sense8, what did you think? Let us know with a comment.
If you would like be a part of the next Mixed Tape please register your intention to contribute by shooting me an email before the 12th of July. Submissions are due on the 26th of July. The collection will be published during the 1st week of August.
The tapes showcase both fiction and non-fiction pieces.
Guidelines for fiction submissions are as follows:
• Stories are to be no longer than 500 words.
• Write what you want to write. However, if you need a prompt…
There were some dark stories in this month’s collection. I’d like to see a more feel good Tape next time around.
There haven’t been any stories in these collections about, or even featuring, trans men. This needs to change.
I'd love to see some stories where trans characters interact. In many of the more realistic stories on sites like FM, BC and TGS the protagonist is the only trans character, or is the only trans character for majority of piece. While the Outsider narrative is one that resonates with trans individuals - and queer individuals in general, and individuals who look different, or believe different things, and almost all people, who for whatever reason, feel different - while it has value as a framework to address trans experiences in fiction, with a beginning, middle, and a frequently empowering conclusion, I think it's overused. I'd love to see stories which start with acceptance and support as a given (and not in surprise twist sort of way) and where the many and varied LGBTQ communities exist and play a role.
I’d like to see some sci-fi and fantasy pieces about trans characters that do not feature magical or super-science sex changes. We don’t see enough of this type of story. I want to see trans heroes, antiheroes and villains who have transitioned, are transitioning, or are considering transitioning in ways that approximate the experiences of real world trans individuals.
• Stories are to be accompanied by a short About the Author or Also by This Author blurb. Write one of those too.
Guidelines for nonfiction submissions:
• Shoot for 1000 words. It doesn’t matter if you go a little over.
• Possible topics include trans issues, sex and sexuality, cross-dressing tips and tricks, writing, and books, movies, TV shows and comics about or featuring Transgender characters. If you can make a case for anything else, you can write about that.
• Regarding style: informal is fine, and preferred. These pieces shouldn’t be a chore to read. Write your chosen topic the same way you’d talk to a friend about it, or write about it in a blog, or in an effort-comment or forum post.
As a contributor you will be able to read and feedback other contributions as they come in. If at any point prior to publication you wish to withdraw your work, that’s OK.
The finished anthology will be published on Big Closet, TG Storytime and Fictionmania. Make sure you have accounts set up on all three sites (all are free to join). I want to get as many authors credited on each site as possible.
Email expressions of interest and submissions to [email protected]
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