Ann Somerville obviously loves this world she has created here in Going Down. The scope of world-building is rich and lightly foreign in feel and the characters she populates it with are familiar in some ways and fascinating in others. Paranormal gifts like empathy and telepathy are relatively common place and these gifted people populate the crowded streets in an almost ordinary fashion and their jobs in the Corps reflect a culture that has found a way to benefit from them.
Derzo Einan an empath, and our hero, is suffering though. He went through a traumatic event that has left him in pain and unable to function. He goes day after day abusing drugs and booze to ease his frayed nerves and numb the gift that has become a curse to him. He will eventually meet up with Troe Thalem, a man who suffers almost as greatly as he does but together they might just find the solution to their problems and the inner salvation they seek.
I would NOT consider this “Gay Romance” or “Gay Erotica” even slightly which are two of the tags that I saw on the Lulu page for this story. It is way way way too Young Adult in feel. That’s not a horrible thing in all honesty and it does not feel forced. Reading Ann Somerville’s Going Down I caught a hint of Ursula K. Le Guin peeking from amongst the cracks here and there.
I have got to ask because it kept coming up when thinking about this story… Why bother to even hint at a possible romance between the two men towards the end when you never really define them sexually for most of the book? I was fine without it really and with their situation and the emotional scars etc etc etc, and so little time left in the story for any real romantic development or for understanding how homosexuality was handled in the society they lived in, I came away finding the stronger sexual tones used at the end a little heavy handed to me. I am just saying the whole homosexual nature of this story seemed unused and unnecessary to even be commented on.
I guess others will see this as a sweet type of gay romance, which I think is more implied than actually written, but I grew up reading Young Adult, Science Fiction/Fantasy buddy stories and adding in my own spicy homosexual undertones and this is a fine example of the kind of story I thrived on.
I just wish it had more adult flavoring.
Derzo Einan wanted to help people, and for fifteen years he rescued others from fires, floods and natural disasters. But in the aftermath of a horrific event, he’s left unable to help anyone, not even himself, his gift of empathy now more of a curse and his career in tatters. Running from his demons, Einan finds refuge in a big city, discovering an underclass of helpless hopeless people even worse off than himself—and another soul as troubled and damaged as him. In saving one more person, will he find his own salvation?
Read an excerpt.
Read more from Teddypig at The Naughty Bits.