Dalí, by E.M. Hamill
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: August 7, 2017
Dalí Tamareia has everything—a young family and a promising career as an Ambassador in the Sol Fed Diplomatic Corps. Dalí’s path as a peacemaker seems clear, but when their loved ones are killed in a terrorist attack, grief sends the genderfluid changeling into a spiral of self-destruction.
Fragile Sol Fed balances on the brink of war with a plundering alien race. Their skills with galactic relations are desperately needed to broker a protective alliance, but in mourning, Dalí no longer cares, seeking oblivion at the bottom of a bottle, in the arms of a faceless lover, or at the end of a knife.
The New Puritan Movement is rising to power within the government, preaching strict genetic counseling and galactic isolation to ensure survival of the endangered human race. Third gender citizens like Dalí don’t fit the mold of this perfect plan, and the NPM will stop at nothing to make their vision become reality. When Dalí stumbles into a plot threatening changelings like them, a shadow organization called the Penumbra recruits them for a rescue mission full of danger, sex, and intrigue, giving Dalí purpose again.
Risky liaisons with a sexy, charismatic pirate lord could be Dalí’s undoing—and the only way to prevent another deadly act of domestic terrorism.
Content Warning for:
When I saw that E.M. Hamill FINALLY had a full length book coming out, I could not sign up fast enough. Given that my love of E.M. Hamill came from reading a very short work in an anthology, you’re probably even more surprised given the fact I read, like, 90% M/M contemporary romance. I literally had to look up “space opera” once I got the ARC because I hadn’t even bothered to give the blurb any thought. The book is also longer than most I’ve reviewed, and so different from what I usually read.
In the first 30% we are introduced to the main character, Dalí, who is a changeling or unrecognized third gender. Now in your mind I know you’re thinking “oh genderfluid” and, well… not exactly. Dalí is human, but later it’s explained that it’s more like genetic evolution for “reasons” (I put that in quotes because depending on which side of politics you are on, the reasons are widely argued) and truly ambiguous. Changelings can literally be any gender; in their natural state they are truly genderless, but Dalí assumes the gender as situation dictates.
With sexual partners Dalí defaults to the others’ preference; in life, what the situation calls for (example: during a fight Dalí takes on more traditionally male characteristics). To clarify, when I say Dalí is genderless it means they can change their genitals on demand: form breast, muscle composition changes, etc. Dalí is also unique in that, having not been raised in a human environment, there was no reason to assume a gender. In the natural state, Dalí says their gender is “nothing”. Most changelings, having been raised with gender expectations, chose one, though they can still switch at will.
I mean… this was everything to me. Being pansexual, I have always wondered when we wouldn’t let genitalia dictate character traits. Apparently my answer is hundreds of years from now, when a third gender evolves. I hope I’m cloned.
When we first meet Dalí we also learn that they have lost their entire family to a tragedy. Dalí was part of the first legal triad marriage, losing both their husband, wife and unborn child. Listen… I’m not discussing this other than to say this is a seriously awesome concept. READ THE BOOK.
It should also be noted that this definitely isn’t a romance. Dalí does engage in sexual escapades with various genders and species during the book, but is so deep in mourning for the loss of their family that they really aren’t forming any attachments. In addition, with Dalí taking on a deep cover space mission, it would make absolutely no sense in the story line. I did enjoy how empathetic Dalí was to others– not just their species– and how the relationships Dalí formed really made sense and gave depth to the story.
The biggest thing with the story (and since I’m not an avid reader of the genre, it may not apply to your experience) was I didn’t see ANYTHING coming. All the twists and turns had me… shook (is that what we are saying now?). There were times I was so fearful for Dalí during the mission that I had to pause and come back to the story. I do hope there is a sequel, even though the book isn’t listed as a series.
At this point Dalí is my absolute favorite book of 2017. I cannot recommend it enough, and seriously hope E.M. Hamill publishes something else soon.
E.M. Hamill is a nurse by day, sci fi and fantasy novelist by night. She lives in eastern Kansas with her family, where they fend off flying monkey attacks and prep for the zombie apocalypse. She also writes young adult material under the name Elisabeth Hamill. Her first novel, SONG MAGICK, won first place for YA fantasy in the 2014 Dante Rossetti Awards for Young Adult Fiction.
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I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.