by Avi Silver
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Pub Date 03 Oct 2023 | Archive Date 29 Nov 2023
“Wait—rewind. I was still a girl back then, before the universes converged.”
Guided by premonitions and a fateful car ride, a burned-out retail worker stumbles into the grand exit from womanhood. Meanwhile, in a galaxy not so far away, an alien prince goes rogue with his sentient spaceship, seeking purpose in the great glimmering void. As the two of them come together in a fusion of body and mind, they must reckon with their assigned identities.
Tender, witty, and daring, Pluralities is a slipstream-meets-space-adventure story honoring the long and turbulent journey into gender euphoria.
A Note From the Publisher
“Pluralities offers two subtly converging stories of a young person quitting a dismal retail job in a reality slightly at an angle from ours, and a space-opera prince on the run with his sentient spaceship friend. This novella truly pushes the envelope of gender exploration in fiction. It does not shy away from tackling the uneasy, messy, but also potentially liberating aspects of sex, T4T relationships, Jewish feminism, and resigning from your job on the spot even if it means having to walk off half-naked. My ideal world would be full of books like this one. Sadly we’re not living there, but you can get and read this particular story in the meanwhile!” — Bogi Takács, Hugo and Lambda award winning author and editor
“Pluralities is a cosmic journey through transness so relatable that it emB.O.D.Y.ied the beauty of being trans. Avi Silver’s grasp of the art of story is so great that it spans galaxies (and an entire mall) to bring the reader finally home to what is gender. A must read for anyone trans, questioning, or any trans ally.” — Jordan Kurella, author of I Never Liked You Anyway
“Years into my own journey, this story was especially meaningful to me. I love that the narrative is filled with queer love, friendship, and euphoria. This novella doesn’t shy away from challenging questions about the intersection of feminism and trans identity, and it doesn’t offer glib answers, but faces those questions head-on. I found the read experience-broadening, and hope this book finds the audience it deserves.” — José Pablo Iriarte, Hugo and Nebula Finalist
The novel release date is 03 October 2023, and as a small press with big stories to tell, we welcome any opportunity to promote this title in advance.
Information about the novella, the press, and the author, is available at the Pluralities Media Kit at https://atthisarts.com/media.
Content notes for all of our titles are available at https://atthisarts.com/content.
We welcome blog posts and reviews. The author is available for interviews and podcasts. We encourage interested booksellers, libraries, schools, or clubs to request print ARCs at: https://t.co/NSlSx7LM9U.
Thank you so much for your interest and support.
Average rating from 38 members
Okay, I absolutely devoured this. It wasn't what I was expecting, based on the summary, but it was still great.
The two narratives work really well, when compared against each other, and I'll admit it took me an embarrassingly long time to work out the connection between the two of them. In fact, I think it was about 47% through when I said to myself "Oh, *Theseus*, I get it now" out loud. Because it's a ship.
Mostly, though, I don't want to talk about that, I want to talk about what the narrative *is*. Because it would be easy to view this as a coming-out story, with the MC coming out to a parent, and themself. But somewhere in the last 10-15% there was a line I have since lost track of, but it made me think "This isn't a coming out narrative, it's not about discovery, it's about Becoming and transformation" and I thought that was pretty rad. I'd read this again in a heartbeat.
This novella is beautiful. I *did* start out my reading experience staring at the wonderful cover and becoming one with the universe, as recommended per the author’s note.
There are essentially two storylines in this book: one with a first-person narrator questioning their sexuality that has only light scifi elements, and one that serves as a science fiction allegory for gender identity. The writing is so beautiful, and even though fourth-walls breaks often drive me a little crazy, I didn’t mind them in this book.
I loved the way the spec fic elements allowed the author to explore certain aspects of gender identity from multiple angles. This story really resonated with me as it dug into the guilt associated with “abandoning” femininity as a trans/enby individual. I could write a whole essay about how this book spoke to me. It’s not long, but it did a lot of legwork in those pages. I will probably end up getting myself a copy to read again, because I’m pretty sure I’m the target audience.
10/10, 5⭐️, cannot recommend enough. Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC.
I went into this expecting to love it, and yet was still somehow <i>surprised</i> about how exactly much I did. Pluralities is one of my favourite novellas I’ve read this year, and if the universe has any justice (and judging by this years best novel hugo nominees it doesn’t), it will be nominated for a hugo award for best novella for it’s shear <i>brilliance</i>.
☆ A sad nonbinary spaceship
☆ a prince adamant that he is Not A Prince but a rogue
☆ and a not!girl discovering themselves in the wake of that revelation
Oh my god, where to <i>begin</i>? This is the first I’ve read of Ari Silver’s work, and honestly, after this, I will likely be reading the rest of their work. This novella is a science fiction ditty, following a rogue who used to be a prince, and local nbi adult, who, for the breadth of the novella, is referred to as <i>SHE</i>. While these two never meet, their lives and stories are indelibly intertwined by the choices they make. Namely to refuse their supposed fate. Both of them are incredibly delightful protagonists to follow. They’re both distinctive and relatable, and working through the things in their life that to them don’t make sense. The Rogue is so determined to make himself something outside of a prince even though he knows life was easier as one, and <i>SHE</i> is trying to learn to be nbi while being from a family which believes in the divine feminine. The two stories link together incredibly loosely, until the end, where you see how they link a little bit more firmly. Most often you’ll read of something in one of their POVs only to encounter it within the others, or read a line that hints at the other POV, but for much of the story it doesn’t go beyond that.
And it works! It works so incredibly well to have these loosely connected POVs where they are in many ways the same, and yet different people. And it’s <i>so fuckng clever<i>. Silver does a fantastic job of winding these two POVs together, but then doing so in some of the most drop dread gorgeous language I’ve ever read. I would be offended, but so much of the book does such a good job of speaking to the experience of being nonbinary in a way defined by euphoria and not dysphoria that I really can’t be. In the end the only potential criticism I have is that this was incredibly confusing, but in all honesty, that was definitely the point. <i>Please</i> go read this novella though, you won’t regret it.
Final Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ (10/10)
Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for giving me an e-ARC of this book to review. More queer novellas like this one, please! It was unusual (you might say "queer"!) and I really loved the thoughtful approach to gender identity in a sci-fi story of this nature.
Pluralities is a quick read just under 150 pages and Avi Silver somehow stretches them to make not one but two stories come to life in a transformative telling of what it means to no longer understand and be who you thought you were when you were born. To understand that you've truly never been that person even if everyone around you couldn't tell.
As a Cis Woman I can't imagine the ache of understanding your body is yours but the pieces you've tried to fit around it just don't. This story never feels like it's explaining this feeling *to* you or for your benefit. How She's and Cornelius's stories weave together makes you want to reread it and pick up on the things you missed in the beginning. It made me tear up, it made me laugh, it made me want to hug and hold the characters and protect them from their worlds.
Another ARC review and another one to add to my Pre-Orders list.
a fab piece of short speculative science fiction partly about an alien rogue prince and his sad spaceship, and partly about someone figuring out that they are non-binary with their trans man friend.
it's got one of the best explorations of how figuring out your gender identity feels, from the struggles to the complexity to gender euphoria & how good it is to speak to other trans+ people who /get it/ instead of cis people who you have to explain things to. so much media around being non binary focuses on dysphoria so it felt so good to read about non binary gender euphoria. can't wait to get my hands on a physical copy of this gorgeous book💖
ARC provided by publisher on NetGalley for an honest review
“I was a shapeshifter, worshipped for my pluralities…So many stories of self, huddled together to wander the void of my own uncertainty, fleeing and seeking in equal measure… Silence, silence. Perfect and terrible. The sympathetic resonance of the great dark universe, waiting to be heard.”
Avi Silver’s Pluralities is quite possibly one of my new favourite books. Pluralities is a piece of speculative fiction, which in the space of just over 100 pages, manages to trace two narratives; one exploring gender, the trans experience, and gender euphoria, and the other exploring connection, love, and what it means to be alive.
“It would be nice, to lie down. To disassemble. To let his atoms wander apart and return to the universe, perhaps to come back together as something better in another hundred million years. Perhaps it would be painful, but only for a moment. The pain of unbecoming would be nothing compared to the pain of trying to connect.”
Silver’s prose is something to be admired. Their voice carries a poetic quality, and the beauty of their prose, his constructions of language, could be placed on a level with the likes of Oscar Wilde. I found myself unable to tear my eyes from the text; Silver’s poetic voice carries beautifully into their prose, and results in a novella that feels like a piece of art to be taken apart, admired, respected, and cared for.
“There is a wound in Cornelius that Bo cannot see. There is something in his heart that it cannot find and repair, not in the way it wants to, and it fears what these messages will do if they take root. A bit of bad code can corrupt everything, and the ship does not want its friend to break.”
The narrative of Cornelius, an alien prince, and Bo, his best friend who happens to be a sentient spaceship, explores the beauty and depth of platonic love, as well as what it means to be alive, and the fragility of the organic body and experience. Bo and Cornelius are completely in harmony together, two lonely existences joined by an invisible, but infallible, cord within an infinite space of the universe. There is a deep, and profound relationship between these two beings, despite their differences, and this relationship is fundamental to their own realisation of self. Their relationship isn’t perfect, they have to learn to trust one another entirely, to trust the other’s judgment and decisions, and to respect that judgement, but the relationship is founded wholly on pure love.
“Because we’re no good without the other. Because even at your worst, you do not deserve the pain you house. Because I do not do enough to show just how much faith I have in you. Because I’ve run a thousand simulations through my core, imagining what our lives would be apart, and it just doesn’t work, Cornelius. It just doesn’t work.”
This narrative finds itself as an analogy within the exploration of gender, the body taking the role of the spaceship, the vessel, and the self becoming the passenger, allowing Silver to seamlessly weave two different stories into one novella.
“But here I was, a pale blue dot in a whole galaxy of possibilities. A nervous little spaceship, floating somewhere between the supposed binary. It was a nebulous place to be, but it was mine.”
Avi Silver’s depiction of the trans and nonbinary experience isn’t neat, it isn’t tidy, it isn’t the easy A to B of self-realisation - it felt so personal, so real, and I felt so seen within the pages. Being trans isn’t as simple as a journey from A to B, not every trans individual finds themselves neatly fitting on the binary of gender constructed by our society. Theseus says, “…my life experience [is] fundamentally different from cis guys… a way of choosing masculinity for myself, but masculinity that isn’t cis. Being a man on my own terms, I guess.”, verbalising the experience of recognising the vague idea of gender, yet feeling it is something wholly unique from the binary ideas of gender (“… a flickering light I didn’t have the words for… I understood, but I didn’t have the verbal language to describe just how much.”).
“The confession came in a burst of brilliant light, supernova of honesty long overdue, and then went dark. I grasped at my body with shaking hands, trying to keep myself from malfunctioning, falling from the sky into a million unfixable pieces.”
Silver articulates the peace found in “…the void that was left between identities…”, a reminder that there is no obligation to have to be able to verbalise your own experience of gender and self, whilst also recognising the wanting to be recognised by others: “Despite the fact that I barely understood myself, I wanted to be understood by others.”
“They looked at each other, the mysteries flowing between them like cosmic feminine ley lines, and I felt nothing… I didn’t know if it was more her pride or my shame that made me so determined to be a girl… Cult’s kind of a loaded word, but what I’m trying to say is even though I knew that I didn’t belong, leaving didn’t feel like an option.”
The relation of femininity and womanhood to a “cult” in the post-first, second and third wave feminism society, is a detail that I really appreciated in Pluralities. It’s something I also noticed in Felix Ever After, and the misguided accusation that being trans as an AFAB individual made you a “bad feminist” because you must hate womanhood and femininity. Seeing this self-doubt reflected on the page, the question of whether your experience is gender dysphoria, or whether it is internalised misogyny - “Was shying away from the divine feminine of my line an act of violence against my own? A projection of internalised misogyny?” - was a comfort. “Leaving” womanhood doesn’t make someone a bad feminist, or a victim of internalised misogyny, it’s just that it was never you to begin with: “…she had never been mine…”.
“The concept of gender euphoria was my lodestar, a promise that being trans wasn’t just about what felt wrong, but also what felt right.”
But Avi Silver also emphasises trans joy. At the heart of the narrative is the journey to gender euphoria. Pluralities is a story of hope, of joy, and peace within the notion of self. It’s a story on the value of trans voices - “Just because it took me more work to get here doesn’t mean that it’s less valuable…” - and the value of an expression and experience of gender beyond the binary.
“I couldn’t describe what it felt like to be myself, to be nonbinary, but I could read through the stories and decide whether or not they felt like mine.”
Quotes taken from e-ARC provided through NetGalley and may change in final published work
Thank you to NetGalley/the publisher for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review!
There is something quite raw and honest and beautiful about this book and the way it explores non-binary gender identity. I struggle to put it all into words without spoilers, but I'll give it a go below. If you've ever questioned your gender or felt like you didn't quite belong though, you should give this a read.
It accepts in a way that I don't think I've ever seen before in media, that the concept is messy and difficult and finding who one is in that universe of possibilities can be so difficult. The link too to the AFAB feeling of being a 'traitor' to women when one simply is not a woman really struck a cord.
The book is beautifully written - the prose is accessible yet magical. It mixes humour, copious (excellent) Stardew Valley references, with dark moments and profound lines, in a way that feels effortless. It manages to be profound in such a fluid, natural way, that you very rarely find in books: I couldn't describe what it felt like to be myself, to be nonbinary, but I could read through the stories and decide whether or not they felt like mine.
And the parallel storylines are both fascinating enough to keep one hooked the entire time. The metaphor of the second story ties in nicely with the first as well.
This was such a unique and beautiful novella, and the exploration of transness and nonbinary genders made me feel so seen. Highly recommend!
Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for giving me an e-ARC of this book to review.
This was such a unique and beautiful novella that explores queerness in a way I had never seen before, tackling topics like dysphoria and gender identity together with speculative sci-fi. The author’s writing is breathtaking and I loved how the two stories managed to tie together into one. I can’t wait to get a physical copy of this one!
(slightly longer review on my goodreads very soon!)
This is a beautiful tender exploration of gender, personhood and love (in all its forms) wrapped in a little sci-fi bundle.
This book has two main narratives running side by side, one - A person who, whenever they touch the skin of another, has visions of the future, near and far, of things that will happen to that person. They quite their job, they meet Theseus and suddenly they're on a journey of figuring out their gender identity in a world where men are allowed to be and do whatever and women, aside from expected subservience, have to wear a stamp on their cheeks saying 'She', which is sometimes all they refer to each other as, just 'She'. They're also finding that on this journey they're feeling this strange connection to something they can't quite place. Where does this feeling of having a passenger come from, why do all their metaphors about gender seem to loop back to being a spaceship, building themself, seeing metallic representations of arms in the mirror sometimes instead of their own?
Every other chapter we are catapulted back into Cornelius's story, a prince, a rouge, a lost alien (to us) escaping his home planet and preparing to explore the universe. With him is his ship Bo, B.O.D.Y, a lifeform that, as it grew, was able to choose what it became - it could have been anything, a museum, a boat, vehicle, building, but sentient either way. Bo chooses to be a ship, Bo chooses to travel with Cornelius forever, and Bo loves Cornelius above all else.
Bo is the kind of character I adore in science fiction, the questions of sentiency in machinery, what they think of humans or ‘organics’, how they can love and how they exist in a very ‘human’ focussed world. Bo was interesting in the fact that it was slightly different, it had this somewhat organic core (maybe, if I understood correctly) and had so much more choice and agency than other AI, robot etc characters commonly do; it could choose what it wanted to be and where it wanted to go. I want so badly to know more about it and it’s life and history. Give me a loving, confused sentient spaceship or any kind of bot and I’ll immediately be in love with them and the story even more.
I loved the conversations about body and gender between Theseus and the other main character, whose name we never find out. First off just Theseus choosing that as his name. The "whole ship"; this theme of building and creating and re-working something from what it originally was into something new, or something the same but just rearranged. Both metaphorically and the actual physical ship of Bo, changing and building itself, sacrificing itself...
‘“It was like a metaphor, I guess? Less Theseus the hero and more the whole concept of the ship.” A spark popped deep in my chest, a flickering light I didn’t have the words for. I nodded quickly to show that I understood, but I didn’t have the verbal language to describe just how much.’
These conversations between them felt so real, made me nostalgic and feel a little too seen. I was laughing, almost slightly embarrassingly, at myself thinking back to all those conversations I'd had and still have with friends that so commonly start with 'do you know where you’re at now with…' just how theirs did.
‘Self discovery is a lonely experience by definition, but I don’t think it has to be done alone.’
So, when Theseus asks, 'Do you know where you’re at now? With the body stuff?', you laugh and you cry a little because you know that moment. You know having that nervous excitement about where that conversation is going and know that feeling of being completely unable to respond in any kind of way that makes for a conclusive, helpful answer, but appreciating the attempt to understand, by others and yourself, anyway.
I think I did try and rationalise it a bit too much maybe, trying to figure out how exactly the characters were linked - the author spoke of multiverses and at times we'd watch a character zoom out in their mind and see it all, but was it coincidence, was it just different parts of the universe going through similar motions seeing glimpses of themselves in another? Was it something deeper than that and I didn't quite understand it? Were they actually the spaceship, was the combined Bo and Cornelius actually them, was it something else entirely. And maybe that was the point - no definitive answer, no neat and tidy conclusion when being a person doesn't have one, when being non-binary, trans, queer, anyone, anything doesn't have one...
‘I was a shapeshifter, worshipped for my pluralities. Without, within. So many stories of self, huddled together to wander the void of my own uncertainty, fleeing and seeking in equal measure. Transcendent. The lights within me spoke an impossible language, and all at once the ship of my body caught a proper glimpse of its lonesome occupant.’
Another aspect I really enjoyed seeing depicted was how sex and kink can be a tool or a catalyst (accidentally or not) to helping a person figure out different facets of their identity. Of course, some things stay strictly sexual for some people and do not meld into their everyday lives, but some things do. Sometimes trying out something in that space can lead to a world of discovery about wants and needs and desires different from sexual ones. I loved that this was touched on and was looked at in a celebratory way.
Also, can we talk about when that character finally had that moment of gender euphoria they were hoping for. What a perfect tiny moment that meant a huge thing.
‘The concept of gender euphoria was my lodestar, a promise that being trans wasn’t just about what felt wrong, but also what felt right.’ . . . ‘Even at my most destructive, I wasn’t about to resign myself to a life made of absences.’
I wish this book had been a little longer, I wish we had been able to explore Cornelius’s life more to fully understand who he was and wasn’t. When I started the book I assumed at one point all the characters would meet, but it wasn’t about that, and they kind of did meet, in a way. I wished for more worldbuilding, to have my questions of why they lived like this answered, and to see Cornelius’s home, to see what him and Bo became. But, on the whole it was beautiful and unforgettable. I loved the melding of the stories, in both obvious and subtle ways, and clearly, the author has an incredible way with words and a knack for capturing what feels sometimes impossible to pin down, that ‘soft rouge thing’, that ‘sense of translucence’, that ‘gaping void of nameless want. Some untended tale of a man and his spaceship; my tender mechanical heart. The long examined absence where the she-ness should be’…
I'm already looking forward to reading it again!
This book stands out amongst ACRs for me. It feels polished, and every word sounds carefully chosen and arranged. I found myself pausing my reading frequently to reread passages again, because they were just that good. So many enormous metaphors that leave your brain swirling at the end of chapters. I loved it. And of course, I can’t forget to mention the delightful sarcastic humor.
The dual storyline was also super entertaining. Personally I love when a book follows two intertwining narratives, especially if each character’s voice is distinctive, and this nailed it!
Many thanks to getting this book as an arc on netgalley.
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/5690906389 good reads review
Pluralities is a speculative, and at times dreamlike, queer delight. I'm not sure genre is a helpful descriptor for this book, as it so satisfyingly occupies space between categories. We follow two tracks, a young person awakening to and stepping into their transness, and an alien prince bopping through space with his sentient ship best friend. The writing style is fun and fast-paced and doesn't hand hold the reader through the story. There's a lot left unsaid, a lot of space (no pun intended) left for us to ponder and put together. The themes tackled are expansive: friendship, love, self-love, self-knowledge, while the tone is fresh and colorful. Pluralities felt like a work that needed to be birthed, irrespective of commerce. This is one that will sit with you, but won't drag you down. I absolutely loved it.