Ted White. Systems of Romance. (Fantasy and Science Fiction, May/June 2013)

fsf130506A palpable sense of ennui in a story about a 200+ year old musician, whose early successes gave him the financial wherewithal to be one of the elite who has virtual immortality. A much younger woman becomes one of his many conquests, but the relationship ends in tears (and an enormous meteorite strike turns up at the end to prevent any reconciliation).

Some interesting themes in there, but my major reaction to the story was the rape at the end – “..I sexually assaulted her. I ignored her signals, her responses. I treated her with absolutely no consideration. I did as I wished with her. I unleashed all my inner selfishness. It no longer mattered to me what she thought of me”. I’ve no objection to this preceding text, as it exemplifies the chauvinistic, arrogant nature of the protagonist. But having finished with her, spent himself, he collapses on her and ‘I felt the tremors of orgasm going through her’. Really? Is that how it works, sexually assault and treat a woman in this way, and she has an orgasm??

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