121 Taking Out the Male

“And I’m starting to wonder,” I told Vicky in her room the next day, “if I need to step back and just try living this way for a month or so without agonizing about changing back.” I’d already described the conversation with Jeremy and the additional research I’d done online about transgender folk, and how of course I didn’t see surgery as a solution.

All in all, I’d been talking pretty much nonstop for about fifteen minutes, and Vicky hadn’t said a word in response. She just kept staring at me with what appeared to be horror.

“And what I’m realizing,” I continued, “is that I don’t feel male inside at all. I have most of my old habits, but my reactions… well, if I were physically male again and found myself still crushing on Jeremy, I’d be pretty upset.”

I stopped, expecting her to comment, but she just kept staring. “Vicky?” I waved my hand before her eyes. “Are you even listening to me?”

“He talked to you about having children?!” she finally asked.

I blinked in surprise. “Well, yeah, that’s how we got onto the subject. I mean, he really took me by surprise. I hadn’t–”

“Children? Seriously?”

“Uh, yeah… you know, really short people, look like their parents…”

“And he’s the one who brought up the subject? Not you?”

“Why would I talk about children? Vicky, why are you freaking out? It was just a conv–”

“Exactly what did he say?!”

She was starting to freak me out at this point. “How am I supposed to remember his exact words? Um… he pointed out that I’ll be busy with school and training for a long time and that – and this is really hypothetical, mind you – if I wanted to have children–”

“Marsh! Boys our age don’t generally talk about children!”

“But he did,” I insisted. “It was a practical–”

“They don’t talk about children,” she interrupted me again, “unless they’re thinking that the girl they’re with might make a good wife.”

That stopped me cold. “What? Wife? But he couldn’t! I mean…”

“I’m not saying he’s going to propose to you tomorrow, but I think you’re naïve if you think he doesn’t see that as a possibility. Are you sure he’s never told you he loved you?”

“But… He… propose?” I stammered. “Uh… not in so many words.” Of course, then I had to explain how he’d referred to me as “the girl I love” when explaining his hesitation to take my virginity. “Are you OK?” I asked, seeing the pained expression on her face when I was done. I was already off-balance. What else did she think I might have missed?

“I’m really trying not to make this about me,” she said, her voice sounding strained. “I’m really working hard on accepting that we’re probably never going to be together again. I’d even decided that I’ve been using Kevin as a crutch and really need to break up with him – and now this. Marsh, what are you doing?”

“Hey, this wasn’t my idea!” I protested. “We’ve only been going out for maybe two months. How was I supposed to know he was going to start getting serious?”

“You’ve obviously done something that makes him think it might be a good idea. Is this… is this something you might actually consider?”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa! Vicky, that’s just not reasonable. I mean, sure I like him… OK, I like him a lot–”

“Maybe even love him?”

“I… I don’t know…” I stammered, wringing my hands awkwardly. “Even if I do feel female inside, that doesn’t mean I really think of myself that way. I know I’m supposed to be a guy. Why do you think I keep freaking out when I’m with him? Besides, even if I get over that, I don’t exactly have a great track record with relationships. The six months you and I were together is still my record.”

“You’re not answering the question, Marsh. Do you love him? Could you imagine yourself married to him?”

“How am I supposed to feel? I… OK, maybe I do love him. And… well… I can’t even let myself think about the rest. I can’t think about it.” And why is my stupid heart pounding so much at the thought? “It’s impossible. I have to change back… somehow.”

“Easier said than done. So what are you going to do?”

“I don’t know,” I admitted again, failing to keep the whine out of my voice. “I guess I have to tell him something. I just don’t know what? How exactly do I admit that I’m a fraud? That I’m not the girl he thinks I am?” I couldn’t look her in the eye; I knew how she wanted to see me, and it wasn’t how I was seeing myself. “I never should have dated him. I shouldn’t have told Tina I was crushing on anybody. I should have just sucked it up and pretended I didn’t feel anything.”

When I ventured a look at Vicky, she was staring at me with her mouth open. “I don’t even know what I’m supposed to say to that. Am I supposed to argue that you’re really a girl now and you should be dating boys? Is that what you’re expecting from me? You’ve just made me feel like I’d be a jerk not to say something like that, but… how nice a person do you think I can be?”

Chagrined, I shook my head. “I’m sorry; I didn’t mean to pressure you. I was looking to wallow in self-pity, but you’re not the right person – not now, at least. Well, I’m not seeing Jeremy until tomorrow, so that gives me time to figure things out, right?”

She looked pained. “Good luck with that,” she answered. Then she reached over and patted my hand. “I guess I really am going to have to get over this. Plus, I have a boyfriend to dump… good luck.”

“Yeah, you, too.” I hugged her goodbye, and left.

Nikki was at rehearsals that evening and I went over to her when I’d finished. “How did it go, tonight?” she asked.

I plopped into the chair next to her. “Rehearsal was fine. We did some of the  Anthony/Joanna scenes – which meant that we did a fair amount of singing and… well, kissing.”

“Oh? And did you enjoy it as much as you’d hoped?”

“I wasn’t really in the mood. I have a problem. Do you have some time to talk?”

“Sure – I just need to get Todd’s sizes and then I’m basically done for today.”

“Why don’t I wait here,” I suggested. “This isn’t something he should overhear.”

She came back in a few minutes and we grabbed our coats and headed for her room. “So what’s wrong?” she asked, once we were outside and away from any potential eavesdroppers.

“It’s Jeremy,” I explained. “Vicky thinks he’s starting to really get serious about our relationship.” I gave her a quick synopsis of my conversations with Jeremy and Vicky, and then had to explain about the confrontation with Luke and the disaster that had been.

“Wow,” she commented. “Sounds as though you’ve really been busy. So what exactly is the problem?”

“Well, don’t you think Jeremy is being a bit premature?”

“Maybe, but maybe he’s just being thorough. It sounds as though he’s decided that he’d like to get married sooner rather than later, and he’s planned things out so that would be possible. He’s chosen a very practical pair of degrees so that he can support a wife, and he thinks you might be the girl he’ll want.”

“But… but that’s crazy!”

“Why is it crazy? Do you not expect to marry one day?”

“But… I hadn’t planned on getting married as a girl?”

She didn’t answer; just kept on walking. I’d stopped and now had to hurry to catch up. “Nikki, don’t you see? I was really expecting to be able to change back. This is all happening too fast!”

She looked at me curiously, but still didn’t answer. And then we reached her dorm, and there were other students around, so I couldn’t press the point until we were safely inside her room. And even then, she held up a hand to stop me while she turned on her hot pot so we could have tea.

Then she turned back to me and asked quietly, “and exactly what do you expect to be when you get married?”

“I… OK, I guess I don’t really have a choice any more, do I?”

“And if you did, would you really still want to change back?”

My jaw dropped. “How can you ask that? Haven’t I been talking about changing back for months?”

“Yes, you have. But when you first changed, you were freaking out about the very idea of a boy touching you. You had serious trouble kissing Jared, even though it was a simple chaste peck on the lips. Do you want black or herbal tea?”

“Um… black, I guess. I still have a bunch of homework tonight–”

“But you’ve changed,” she went on, pulling out the teabags and cups. “You’ve got a boyfriend, spent the night with him, and not long ago you told me you were even looking forward to kissing scenes with another boy. You’re very comfortable as a girl now, aren’t you?”

“Well, I suppose…”

“So what’s the problem?”

“I… but don’t you see…?” She handed me my cup and I followed her to the couch. “Nikki… OK, yes, I’m comfortable as a girl. I’m just not comfortable being a girl. Not for keeps.”

“Why not?”

“Because it’s not how it’s supposed to be! I’m supposed to be a guy!”

“Says who?”

I needed time to think about that one. It was obvious, wasn’t it? So why couldn’t I put it into words? “OK, I think this is what I mean. I’ve spent almost nineteen years learning that I was a boy. That I was going to be a man, and that meant things – things that are different from what it would be like to grow up to be a woman. Boys and girls are different, and not just physically – we have different dreams, different expectations… I’ve seen my sister and her friends playing dolls and dress-up and imagining their weddings… I never did any of that. My best friend and I communicated through jokes and stuff we were doing, not talking about feelings.”

“And yet you’ve talked about your feelings just fine with me, and with Vicky and your roommates, right?”

“Don’t get me wrong, Nikki. I enjoy being a girl. If somebody just, I don’t know, hit me on the head or something and made me forget I was supposed to be a guy, I know I’d be happy this way. I think part of the problem is that those bastards forced this on me. They stole who I was! Just because I kind of like the new me, too, doesn’t mean it’s OK that they did it or that I can accept it. It’s like…” I reached for a comparison. “Well, it’s like saying to a girl who was raped that she if she had an orgasm she has nothing to complain about.”

She winced. “OK, I think I get the point, but that’s really offensive. I’d look for a different way to phrase that if you ever have to explain it to somebody else. You feel cheated, right? That the world owes you whatever advantages you had in being a boy?”

I shook my head. “I’m still not explaining it right. It’s not advantages, per se, but identity. I’m a fake. Everybody thinks I’m a girl, but I’m not.” I tapped on my chest, “Inside here, I know I’m male. I’m just playing a role as best I can, and now Jeremy might want me to be… to be a wife and I… I can’t do it. How could I go through life pretending I’m what he wants me to be, what he deserves to have the girl he marries be, and know it’s all a big lie?”

Suddenly I felt her taking the cup from my hand and putting her arms around me. “Oh, Honey, you must feel horrible. But one thing you’re not is a fake. You’re just in a very confusing position – a very, very, very confusing position. But you’re managing. You’re managing very well, considering.”

I nodded against her shoulder. “I just don’t want to hurt him.” I said, miserably.

“And is that what this is about?”

“Well, he was really hurt by his last girlfriend. He’d built her up as this perfect virginal whatever and then when she came up to visit him at college she publicly embarrassed him by acting all… loose, and…” Guiltily, I remembered that I’d sort of done the same thing, although at least we’d been alone. “I’m just afraid that he might have built me up in his mind as somebody to live with and he’ll be hurt when I can’t.”

She held me away from her and looked me in the eye. “Marsh, let’s back up a bit. I get what you’re saying, but maybe you’re being a little bit, well, you’re getting way ahead of things. All he’s done so far is show that he thinks of you as a serious girlfriend, not just somebody to have fun with, and that for him, serious means maybe marriage one day.

“But you’ve only dated for a couple of months, I don’t think you even answered his question, and you haven’t met each other’s parents. A proposal, if it even comes, is almost certainly months, if not years away. So for right now, why don’t you stop worrying about marriage? You need to be thinking about who you are, and when you figure that out, then maybe you can think about whether you might be ready to join your life with somebody else’s. Does that make sense to you?”

“Yeah, but he also wants not to have sex before marriage,” I pointed out. “Doesn’t that suggest that he is thinking about marriage sooner rather than later?”

Nikki opened her mouth as if she was going to say something and then changed her mind, before telling me, “OK, you know what? You don’t know. You won’t know until he asks, if he does, but let’s just say that I am skeptical.”

“So you think I don’t need to think about breaking up with him, just in case?”

“I think,” she said, smiling and shaking her head, “that you’re being a drama queen. I don’t know whether actors are more prone to it than other people, but I’ve worked with a bunch of actors in Alvin’s shows who’ve, let’s say, found more angst in situations that I think was absolutely necessary.

“You say you feel like a fake, Marsh. Why don’t you focus on that, first? How you can change that feeling? Maybe we can brainstorm a bit.”

That seemed like something reasonable to do, but something was still bothering me. “Let me think about it a bit, Nikki?” I felt as though I were pleading with her. Maybe I didn’t want to lose that feeling? Maybe it would feel as though I would be betraying my old self? “It seems like there’s all kinds of things tied up in this. I mean, you’re right, I should do it, but I don’t think I’m ready. Not just yet. OK?”

It wasn’t until I was most of the way home from Nikki’s room that I realized the problem. This was a very scary step, trying to put my old life, what I still thought of as my real life, behind me. To give up on ever being Marshall again and accept myself, really accept myself as a girl. I needed a very safe environment even to consider that, and as helpful as Nikki was, she wasn’t quite safe enough.

No, it was clear to me that this was something I was going to need help on from Mom.


  1. von says:

    I like it. I searched, hard, for something to dislike, and I didn’t find it. A couple of beats, sure; a sentence construction or something, yeah; still agree with Jim that the TG conv should have been a long time ago. But, seriously, one of my top ten chapters… and only that low because my memory fails me.


    (I’m going to have to go over it again to find something to criticize or I’ll lose my reputation.)

  2. von says:

    OK, took a shower, came to my senses, and was able to come up with one thing I didn’t like: the title. There, now I feel better 🙂

  3. April says:

    See, this is how you can always tell a doppelganger apart from the original person. They always slip up somehow! Where’s the real von, you monster?!

  4. von says:

    Seriously tho, April, what did you think? This chapter, IMO, reinforces my criticism about the previously raised issue. I see no point to the whole TG conversation in the previous chapter, at least if this little blip at the beginning of this chapter was it’s entire raison d’etre. I agree with Jim that raising it somewhere in the distant past might have been OK, especially if it was quickly and soundly rejected. But what good did it do here except to distract.

    I also wanted to point out that I appreciated the raising of tension that the phrase ‘I feel like a fake’ raises for me. It makes sense of the whole idea that Marsh, altho acting perfectly comfortably as a girl, should have some residual issues. If he feels/believes/thinks himself to be in a position of acting deceptively to people around him, and now, with the prospect of marriage to Jeremy (Yeah!!) is faced with an entire lifetime of that, I heartily appreciate this exposition of the matter. To me, it helps raise his IQ slightly above that of the aforementioned toaster.

    The whole antagonist thing still needs to be raised, but definitely not in this chapter. I think it would make a marvelous tension to reraise and fully thresh out *after* Marsh takes the step he contemplates here.

    Well Done, Russ!!

    v0n 😉

  5. von says:

    >>Where’s the real von, you monster?!

    Where you around for the fake Von, April? I think Russ deleted his posts, I don’t remember.

  6. von says:

    >>“And what I’m realizing,” I continued, “is that I don’t feel male inside at all. I have most of my old habits, but my reactions… well, if I were physically male again and found myself still crushing on Jeremy, I’d be pretty upset.”

    OK, while I’m on a role of disagreement etc., I don’t get this paragraph. He still has all of his boy habits? Given the nature of ‘habits’ I don’t think do; or we would be hearing more about his faut pas’s. And by ‘my reactions’ does he merely mean his sexual attraction to Jeremy, and to boys in general (did I miss the bit where he expressed a desire to do more kissing? where he crossed the ‘only Jeremy’ threshhold? And here I thought I was paying attention.)

    So, this could be a couple of longer, more detailed, paragraphs, and I think it woudl do the story good.

  7. scotts13 says:

    Good one. A really telling and significant admission, right in the third paragraph; though as usual Marsh hasn’t quite thought it through to the logical conclusion. That’s OK, Vicky does it for her, in her usual self-centered way.

    I’m curious about the views of the other commenters on one point: I have this odd opinion, which even I feel is suspect (or perhaps distasteful), that the male mind is incompatible with the concept of childbearing. To wit, that a male faced with the concept of actually having another life develop inside of them would freak out. Much, MUCH more so than experiencing sex or even marriage as a female. The lesson in this case would be that, having faced and accepted that reality, Marsh could no longer even partially think of himself as male. Am I off-base?

    (Chuckles) There’s a semi-recognized psychological phenomenon called the “impostor syndrome”. I suffer from it to some extent; I don’t have anything LIKE the issues that Marsh faces, but I still have the fear that people I’m lecturing to will figure out I don’t know the subject as well as I claim. Or that the whole “normal human being” facade will fall apart.

    No-one on earth has more of a reason to suffer from it than Marsh; and at the rate she’s is going, she may conquer it first!

  8. von says:


    Compared to the idea of sex with another male the idea of childbearing is heaven itself, sorry. Now, being pregnant for nine months…

    My daughter, who is studying to be a lay midwife, checked out this book called ‘Baby catcher’ which expresses very much the attitude you express, except more on the female=positive side. We have already seen this with Marsh chapters and chapters ago, so I don’t think this is an issue for him.

    I like your ‘impostor syndrome’ remarks.

  9. April says:

    I seem to recall polls that said that a (sizable) minority of men would choose to become pregnant if it was possible. Maybe in the low 30s or something? Of course, it’s one thing as a hypothetical, but an entirely different situation when it’s actually possible, as in Marsha’s case.

  10. April says:

    Seriously tho, April, what did you think?

    Honestly — and it truly pains me to see this — but I agree with you: it’s a really good chapter. Perhaps not my top 10, but definitely in the upper quartile.

    As for the previous chapter, I’m kind of on the fence about it at the moment. As the story currently stands, I can’t say it adds a whole lot to the discussion. I think Russ handled it sensitively and adroitly, but if I were editing down his 925 page† novel, I’d probably try to fold some of it into an early chapter and cut the rest.

    But I still maintain that it could still be important farther down the road. For example, if Marsha begins to consider spilling the beans to Jeremy — which I believe you’re a fan of — his treatment of this transwoman might weigh heavily in her decision.

    † As of last chapter, standard paperback size, 12pt font. Yowza!

  11. von says:

    Hey, how come she gets an Avatar?? No fair!!


  12. April says:

    It’s just my Gravatar; I promise it’s not some special dispensation that Russ has given me.

  13. BMeph says:

    Just one quibble with you here, von:
    >> OK, while I’m on a role of disagreement etc., I don’t get this paragraph. He
    >> still has all of his boy habits?

    No, he has some of his habits, not all of them boy-based. One HUGE one which we used to see more of but may be getting lost in the shuffle, is Marsh’s self-soothing by guitar-playing. That’s a BIG habit he used to rely on for comfort, that he doesn’t any more, as we saw in the chapter before.

    Okay, now back to my own writing/reviewing…

  14. April says:

    Yeah, but in the previous chapter, that was more due to his lack of ability than lack of desire. If Marsh could still play the guitar as well as he used to, he likely would have gone to it for comfort.

  15. von says:

    I C what you mean. Not what I usually think of as a habit, but I get the point. Still, this does not address the boy/girl divide.

  16. Trax says:

    Hey all,
    I’ve been reading but don’t usually have as much time to comment anymore.
    I agree the last chapter was lacking, and this one was quite good.

    The ONLY thing that bothers me in this chapter (and others where Marsh talks about just living as a girl) is ignoring the fate of his now unborn cousin, should this time line persist. This isn’t just one life we’re talking about. Which would cause more guilt? Lying to someone or the perceived-death/erasure/what-have-you of a family member?

    I can understand it as far as ‘no choice in the matter, lets adjust accordingly’, but we haven’t really seen any thoughts about it for a while.

  17. April says:

    @Trax: It’s a good point. It was pretty traumatic to Marsh to find out his cousin didn’t exist, and it seems odd that it hasn’t come up much since. Of course, given Marsh’s current knowledge and assumptions about how the experiment worked (ie, Time Travel), there’s absolutely no certainty as to whether Tyler would ever come back.

    Some interesting thoughts along those lines: what if instead of Tyler being gone, there had been some other cousin existing in his place? Or what if the experiment had instead caused an additional cousin to be born… would Marsh be obligated to stay as Marsha to preserve this new person’s existence? What if the time travel thing is real, and they can repeat it as many times as possible? Given its effects, it seems quite likely that some people would cease existing and others would pop into existence. How do you decide which outcome to stick with, given that there are likely to be an infinite amount of possible outcomes that cause various people to exist or not to exist?

  18. von says:

    The unborn cousin is just the tip of the ‘what about everyone else’ iceberg. Seriously.

  19. von says:

    Not the real point, April. You act as if Marsh was the one with his finger on the button, his hand on the switch. Right now there is a group of people out there, people who have shown themselves to be utterly without morals of any kind, who have the power to change, at the very least, memories, and at the most life and death over potentially thousands of people. That is the issue, not which time line to choose.

    The ‘which time line to choose’ issue can only come once the bad guys are defeated. And, as Trax points out, no one is focusing on them. Instead Marsh is having trivial issues about whether or not to continue his pattern of lies. Important personally, perhaps, but overall a matter of deck chairs on the Titanic.

  20. April says:

    Awesome, I appreciate the reminder that my comments are pointless. I will try to keep that in mind. And here I thought we were having a conversation on the internet about fictional characters who’ve had their lives tinkered with by some shadowy unknown persons via some quasi-magical device, not in a school classroom where a teacher is going to rap my knuckles with a ruler for whatever they believe is even the slightest tangent.

    If it is so important that Marsh focuses exclusively on catching and defeating these bad guys, what would you suggest that she do? Because it seems to me that she has spent the last 120 chapters trying to both live her life and catch these people, and is at a bit of an impasse right now on the latter. What are your obvious suggestions as to the daring do she can perform to bring these black-hearted villains to justice?

    Besides, at some point, the Rule of Drama is practically demands that Marsh eventually have her fingers on some kind of button at some point. Otherwise, it will be difficult to make the denouement satisfying.

  21. von says:

    I think Trax, and definitely I, was making the point about the overall book tension… about what Russ should *do* and about how Marsh should *feel*. So far Marsh, Chad, Dad, Nikki, etc. seem totally focused on the rather trivial and unimportant issue of ‘how Marsh should live his life’, whether he should be a boy or girl, whether he should have sex with Jeremy or George, and not on the big issue that presents itself.

    Compare this book with the movie Big. In Big the ‘effect’ was brought about merely on one boy, there was no suggestion of any bad guys, it was quasi voluntary, there was no real suggestion that it was going to be repeated ad infinitum to others. Thus the movie could focus on the one person affected, and how they lived their lives.

    Here we have the opposite. We have a shotgun effect, affecting many hundreds of people, potentially thousands, and no end in sight. We need a Jack Bauer not a Mr Mom. OK, so you’ve become a girl, deal with it and work on getting these bad guys. Marsh et. al. have done almost nothing in that direction, and Marsh, in particular, seems to lapse into a fit of depression and angst whenever he meets the slightest obstacle. Scott and I, and perhaps Trax, can (and, indeed have, in PM’s) think of dozens or even hundreds of things that could be done. They could be good things, bad things, even stupid things (I think Scott accused several of my suggestions of being stupid, the first of which was ‘tell Dad and let him help’), but they are at least things, they at least address the actual, important, issue. What sex you are, assuming that you behave appropriately for that sex and in a Godly fashion, is really unimportant. But what you do for others isn’t. And Marsh seems exceedingly self-focused. When has he even said, “I have to stop these guys before they do this, or something worse, to someone else!”?

    (And on a linguistic note, “missing the point’ and ‘pointless’ are not synonyms.)

  22. von says:

    >>Besides, at some point, the Rule of Drama is practically demands that Marsh eventually have her fingers on some kind of button at some point. Otherwise, it will be difficult to make the denouement satisfying.

    Very, very true,depending on the kind of book. Altho the title of the book suggests otherwise.

  23. von says:

    >>what would you suggest that she do?

    BTW, are you serious here? Are you really at a loss for things that you would do in his place?

  24. scotts13 says:

    Oh, I don’t know – I very MUCH see this as one persons story, rather than an adventure novel. Personally, I find Amanda Brooks much more interesting than Jack Bauer. (GRIN)

    If I were Marsh, I wouldn’t spend too much time agonizing over missing cousins, effects on the world at large, or anything other than my own interests – as they say, “Too broad a view paralyzes the will.” Not because I don’t care, but because at this point there’s not enough information to base a decision on. Unless and until Marsh knows what was done, by who, and how – there’s no telling if reversing “whatever” is possible or advisable. In fact, if things are as presented, the effects of the time tampering would necessarily be almost random (search the comments for “tomato on her sandwich”).

    The response for Marsh (IMHO) is to gather information while keeping her options open. Granted, she should do this more assiduously than she has. Blabbing her problems to unnecessary people limits those options, pursuing Jeremy (specifically – might be different for some other boyfriend) limits those options; making some career choices, too. Gather information, analyze, act. For all she knows the experimenters might be Angels, sent to earth to do some fine tuning.

    BTW, I have a little trouble understanding the fuss about the missing cousin. This is a VERY personal thing with Marsh. The cousin isn’t complaining; he was never conceived, let alone born. No one else misses him, either. If the experiment is undone (again, if things are as presented) all sorts of people might be missing the next roll of the dice.

  25. April says:

    @Scott: C’mon now, angels? Next thing you know, you’ll be telling some wild stories about these so-called “angels”, stoned off their arses and indiscriminately altering the very fabric of reality by treating people’s lives as if they were just a manilla folder in some sort of cosmic filing cabinet. You kids and your whimsies!

  26. von says:

    Oh, I don’t know – I very MUCH see this as one persons story, rather than an adventure novel

    I’m not talking about what I’d rather see as a story, I’m talking about consistency and tensions. I liked the movie Big. I like movies about one person and their interactions: Second Hand Lions for example. I’m just saying that things are inconsistent.

    If I were Marsh, I wouldn’t spend too much time agonizing over missing cousins, effects on the world at large, or anything other than my own interests – as they say, “Too broad a view paralyzes the will.”

    Permit me to doubt this…

  27. scotts13 says:

    >> Permit me to doubt this…

    What, the quote or what I’d do if I were Marsh?(GRIN) The quote is a perhaps-slightly-misremembered bit from Heinlein; not one of his novels, a lecture. I’ve always found it to be true. I wasn’t able to find it online, but I found a recent one that expands on the same concept a bit:

    “Sometimes a man with too broad a perspective reveals himself as having no real perspective at all. A man who tries too hard to see every side may be a man who is trying to avoid choosing any side. A man who tries too hard to seek a deeper truth may be trying to hide from the truth he already knows. That is not a sign of intellectual sophistication and “great thinking”. It is a demonstration of moral degeneracy and cowardice.” — Steven Den Beste

  28. von says:

    Well, I certainly agree with that quote. Reminds me of Chesterton: “An open mind is like an open mouth, it is only good if it closes on something.”

    No, I disagree that your behavior would track with Marsh’s. I seem to remember various conversations with things that you would do, chapters and chapters ago. If I, myself, could think of dozens of things to do, I’m sure you could think of at least two or three 🙂

    And I, personally, think that Jeremy is a big enough boy, and serious enough about Marsh, that he will be very helpful when he learns. Except that, now, I have said that, Russ will make him wimp out just to annoy me 🙂

  29. von says:

    Oh, and by the way, I don’t think that quote applies to my argument, but far otherwise. It is precisely concentrating on the important thing that I am arguing for. The important relationships, the important dangers, etc. A date for the prom, a part in the play, and a kiss are unimporant. To my mind Jeremy, Lee Anne, Terry, Vicky, Nicky, the science guy, Tina, and most imporantly Mom and Dad are the important relationships. Finding and stopping the bad guys is (given the way the story is laid out) the important tension/danger.

    If the method of transformation was different, then this last would be different. But the relationships would still be there.

  30. scotts13 says:

    >> No, I disagree that your behavior would track with Marsh’s. I seem to remember various conversations with things that you would do, chapters and chapters ago.

    Oh. Then I’ve either come all the way around the block and arrived at the same destination, or expressed myself poorly. I’m not saying I’d do what Marsh is doing; I’m agreeing she should be more proactive. BUT, not because of the danger of the “evil scientists” to the world at large; because she needs to find out what happened to her, specifically. If it turns out circumstances modify her “change me back” quest, then deal with it from a full deck. If I stopped to examine the ecological, financial, and social consequences of the turkey sandwich I had for lunch, I’d starve to death.

    As far as storytelling, I’m just more interested in the unique aspects of this work than the more common. Charging off after the baddies, beating out a confession, and blowing up their secret lair I can get anywhere. I realize in some aspect these two paragraphs seem contradictory, but they’re not.

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