This is the second story in the Nightsiders collection, an anthology of Sue's post disaster Australia stories.
I found the story pretty confronting at times (which is my problem, not the story's)- intellectually I know that gender reassignment surgery is out there, but I didn't really know anything about the procedure or really what it might be like to be born into the wrong shaped body. Well, I do complain about a lack of wings or a tail, but that's another thing.
Sue's dealt with this sensitively - not so in your face that you want to put the book down and run away, and not so vaguely that you have no idea as to what might be involved. She also has imagined some rather cool innovations appropriate to the near future to assist with the transition.
Ash, the protagonist , is a fun and smart fellow to accompany on an interesting journey in both distance and in learning. Well worth sticking with.
Our Melbourne readers will be glad to hear that they're not doing so badly as Perth. You've still got water and infrastructure. And rain! Us, we've been bombed, had the killer flu, terrible climate change and the Evac, but some of us are still hanging on.
Of course, lots of people have flooded into Melbourne, Ash finds, and that's lead to problems of its own.
In this story we get a real sense of geography both Perth and Melbourne, (sorry Adelaide, you only get a flying visit, but you'll be glad to know you've got much nicer temperatures than us) and the changes a ravaged world is experiencing. Feels kinda close to home - obviously more so as I'm a local, but with the interesting weather we've been having lately all over, even more so..
Nightsiders is kind of a notsogentle post-cataclysm world - not so much Mad Max as perhaps like a bit more of a noir Yokohama Kaidashi Kikō. The catastrophes as they were, were mild really but the effects are far sweeping. Ironic really - look at real life Japan - hit with Earthquakes, Tsunamsis, Fires, Volcano and Nuclear Accidents within a few days, write about that beforehand and people would say it's not very realistic.
However, unlike YKK, people aren't peacefully accepting and reverting to a simpler life, they are working hard for themselves and their biological or adopted children and are carving out a survival space as big as they can get. We're definitely not winding down in Perth!
This was an interesting and at times for me, challenging read (in a way that benefits me!) and I find myself wanting to go to Google Earth and working out where the desalination plant is, and where the farms are - and wanting to know more about Daniel and his doctor friend, what the story is there.
I will be talking about the next story in the collection in due course.