Triton (Review)

Triton (Review)

riton is a moon orbiting Neptune. It is also the setting for a scifi story set hundreds of years in the future.

So our main character is a young male ex-prostitute from a very repressive Mars, a fact which figures into who is is. With a name like Bron (specifically, Bron Helstrom), does anyone see the wordplay? Tall and Nordic, Bron has traveled to Triton, a utopia world where you can be who you want, dorm in mixed couple settings, homosexual settings, whatever you like. If your sexual tastes are not to your liking, you can easily change them. If your gender is not right, that can be swapped out in a very uncomfortable afternoon.

There are no sexual restrictions at all.

So why isn’t Bron happy? Well, for one, he’s short-sighted, unreflective, and unimaginative. He has a new hire at his department fired on her second day because she doesn’t show any physical interest in him. We all know people like this, unpleasant people who cannot be happy and find blame in everyone but themselves.

Early in the book, Bron is walking through the unlicensed section (a place where the rules don’t exist) and gets swept up in some sort of dynamic street performance. The lead performer, known as “The Spike”, vivacious and observant and interesting, interacts with him in a casual way. They have dinner. They have sex. And already, you can see Bron putting everything into his perspective.

Meanwhile, war is brewing (Expanse-wise) between the inner planets and the outer satellites. Sent to Earth as part of a diplomatic mission, Bron meets The Spike again, takes her to an amazing dinner, and totally screws it up with his own fussy personality. Later, he comes on heavily and is rebuffed. He is still steaming about this when Triton is attacked and, only somewhat distracted by his near-death experiences, he still makes himself miserable, including his final gambit to win The Spike back.

Triton was written by Samuel R. Delany back in the days of the sexual revolution (in the past sixty years, many of the things in the novel have come to pass. I know someone whose daughter is now her son, and I live in a largely gay neighborhood.) But it shows that you can still be upset, even when the world (or moon) is yours. Or, as to quote a favorite aardvark,  “Sometimes you can get what you want and still be unhappy.”

A good read for more advanced readers. If you are looking for X-wings and Klingons, this isn’t your sort of book at all.