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Halfway Human (Twenty Planets)

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  515 Ratings  ·  73 Reviews
“The best science fiction novel I’ve read in a long time”—St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Tedla is a 'bland,' an asexual class of people that exist only to serve their fellow beings.

Val is an expert on alien cultures but has never seen a bland before.

They come together after Tedla is found light-years away from its home planet—alone, isolated and suicidal. Val's mission is to hel
Kindle Edition, 331 pages
Published March 12th 2010 by Phoenix Pick (first published February 1st 1998)
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Jun 02, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Halfway Human is pretty darn good. It's set in a rather well worked out variation of a common idea: sometime long in the past (story past, our future), Earth humans have colonized and terraformed many alien planets. After a period in which the planets fell out of contact, a subset of them have rediscovered each other, and have apparently formed a very loose confederation, including Capella Two, the planet (or actually a moon) on which the nominal viewpoint character, Valerie Endrada, lives. Trav ...more
Mar 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi, favorites
I am so glad I took time to sit down and start reading this book before giving it away unread as I've been doing with much of my tbr pile. It's been a very long time since I've read a book that was so engrossing.

The story revolves around a "bland" named Tedla and confronts issues of gender, slavery, love and despair. On Tedla's isolated planet there are males, females and blands -- the asexual class who live behind gray doors and spend their lives in servitude to the humans.

As a child, like all
Parallel Worlds
Mar 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Intended Audience: Adult

Sexual content: Explicit

Ace/Genderqueer characters: yes

Rating: R for heavy sexual violence, suicidal characters and disturbing imagery

Writing style: 5/5

Likable characters: 4/5

Plot/Concepts: 4/5

Valerie has never met a Gammadian bland before, but when Tedla is found half-dead in an alley, Val is called in to make sense of this sexless being. Tedla’s life has not been easy, not least of all because blands are treated as a nonhuman slave class by the males and females of Gamm
Apr 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 05, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ido Bar-av
Jul 16, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Imagine a world without gender roles. A world where gender itself only develops during puberty.
A world where there is no concept of "family" - people stay and live with the ones they love, but there is no marriage, and no children to take care of.
Imagine a world where children are being raised in a commune, educated by professionals, away from any intrusion, and away from any gender-bias they might encounter. And when they reach adulthood, they go back to society to the place that best fits them
Marie Segares
Jun 22, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, fun-stuff, fantasy
I got this book as a free Kindle download. I was intrigued by the reviews and description of the book as a kind of feminist sci fi. The writing is a bit uneven, but the story is compelling. The plot centers around Tedla, a non-gendered "bland" from an alien world who meets Val, a Capellan xenologist. The Capellan society thrives on information, its major currency, and Val is eager to learn more about Tedla and its society (and eventually capitalize on that information).

The book alternates betwe
I think this one is somewhere between a 3 and a 4.

It is bascially a book of two stories - one story is of Tedla, an asexual being from another planet, and how it became the person it is, with its history, maltreatment and societal misconceptions. The second story is that of Val, a capellan who lives in a similar society to us except that information is the currency of life, people tell others nothing for free.

I found the capellan parts fairly boring, the writing in those parts seemed quite clu
This book is so good. It's an engrossing book with a plot that just races along. It has political intrigue, personal drama, and a really fascinating alien culture that is explored in depth from a sort of behind-the-scenes perspective. It manages to be intellectually intriguing and emotionally engaging all the while raising tough ethical and sociopolitical questions about gender, freedom, and what it means to be human.
Jakob Hessius
Nov 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, scifi-fantasy
Wow! I had no real desire to read this book,but I've had it on my shelf for quite some time. I saw Caroline when she was guest of honor at a book convention in Stockholm. She is a very interesting and warm person. Right now I'm so glad I picked up this book. It's without a doubt the best book I've read in a couple of years. It bringa up so many topics it's hard to even list them all. Besides the obvious ones about gender it dels with slaveri, class, cultural differences, beauty, sexuality, hones ...more
Halfway Human tells the story of Tedla, a gender-neutral bland from Gammadis, who suddenly appears in the world of Capella Two and meets Val, a xenologist who will come to be Tedla’s carer and friend.

I found this novel to be astounding and profoundly moving. Tedla’s story is one of sadness, oppression, abuse, intelligence, love, loyalty and ultimately empowerment. In this incredibly over-sexualized world we live in it wasn’t hard for me to identify much more with Tedla at times than the rest of
Sep 29, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Fairly simple world building; two planets that are offshoots from Earth, they reconnect and a culture shock ensues due to the way each has adapted and developed biologically and socially to their new worlds( more social, so much easier to write about).

The novel deals with slavery. Gilman looks at it through the lens of a planet that has adapted into 3 different sexes m,f and asexual. The asexuals are called blands and are used as slaves for the humans, they are also sexually abused. She contrast
Zen Cho
Dec 04, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sff, ootorobooks
Absorbing and fascinating, but hm, I dunno. It's as much about marginalisation and oppression as it is about gender -- well, more about that than gender, really. But I was surprised by the bit where Tedla says that there are blands in Val's world and it's all the people who don't have interests and do menial work and don't aspire to anything better. This was unexpected. I would've thought it'd've said that blands in Val's world are the perfectly ordinary, bright people who are crushed by poverty ...more
Feb 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fab-16
This is excellent entertainment, thought provoking and fascinating!!! On one level this is a fascinating tale of alien contact, well-told and exciting, with well-developed characters. Yet on another level it’s an intriguing look at how people can be socialized into their roles, those of gender and those of class, and raises intriguing questions about our own socialization.
Ralph McEwen
Jun 13, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: cherylllr
You really got to know and care about the characters and places. Some of the insights revealed in the book can be mirrors looking back at us.
Cheyanne N
I stumbled across this book while looking for a more recent release by the author, and I’m so glad that I walked away with this book instead. Parts of the story were almost too intense to me (it needs a major sexual assault trigger warning), but the worldbuilding and commentary on power/class/gender were wonderful.

Tedla is a major standout character for me; a person with no gender or sex, Tedla is part of the class of ‘blands’ on the planet Gammadis, and relegated to serving the men and women on
Dan Prisk
Dec 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A really fantastic book, with so much going on. I recommended this to an English teacher friend of mine right away as it's layered with so many different potential readings.

The primary reading is likely to always be a gender one, as one of the main characters in the book is asexual and comes from a planet where this is a normal third gender. This allows Gilman to talk about a lot of gender inequality issues in an indirect manner, and makes for some thoughtful points reading where I found I'd ac
Aug 28, 2017 rated it liked it
Halfway Human focuses on a clash of cultures and the people caught up in it. Neither culture is completely like our own but both incorporate elements we can recognise even if we would prefer not to It is very much an "ideas" science fiction book, which is not normally my sort of thing, but the characterisation, plotting and layered structure make it a compelling read.

On Gammadis there are three genders, but surprisingly this results more in an examination of slavery and subjugation of a people t
As some of the other reviews have said it does not say anything now about oppression of one group in society.

And what it does say seems confused, it feels like it was written in the 60's. The characters are supposed to be speaking a language that is not English but words get swapped out, copartment rather than apartment etc,,, why?? It's just distracting.

The social structure in this narrative seems quite strict with lots of new roles and new words, but the reader is left to guess how it all fit
Apr 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love Gilman's work; the second one I've read from"Twenty Planets." For all the harm to people that gender does, what would happen if you were assigned no gender, and had no reproductive organs? Well, it would cut down on the problems of overpopulation, if a third of humanity were genderless. That could save destruction of the planet. But what if it were a giant eugenics program, and the genderless were used as menials, and were oppressed, cruelly, violently?
Jun 13, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was a good book all in all and very thought provoking. However, the beginning was VERY slow and I feel that I should forewarn any potential reader about the following things within the book: sexual coercion, a graphic rape scene and mentions of child prostitution. I was very surprised when each of these came up in the book, it really didn't set it up or warn me beforehand, so that I could prepare for it. So, there's your "heads up" about that.
Praticamente sto così al momento:
Il gatto in fissa, tramortito dalla realtà delle cose

Trigger warning per tutto il trigger warnabile legato a sesso, abusi e sfruttamento (in tutte le sue forme). State attenti agli indizi (che ci sono e sono pure tanti) o darete il vostro cuore alla gente sbagliata.
Susan E. Kraterfield
Jan 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Rich storytelling

This reminds me of Octavia butler or maybe some of card's works. It's built around two cultures struggling to understand each other through the prism of their own biases
Sep 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
While the book is clearly an excuse for some dense politics and world-building, the story is more than up to the challenge. Compelling, emotional, well-written.
Feb 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
så himla tung. men bra.
Jan 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars. Awesome story with a great lesson to be learned.
Feb 22, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Melodramatic yet astute anthropology-fiction, spiced up with situational comedy.
Technically, it's xenology rather than anthropo. But the aliens are very much humanoid as the only physiological difference is their third sex. And the SF-nal stuff, though omnipresent, doesn't make much sense and remains in the background for the most part.
The dystopian flavor is dominant instead as the main theme is economically-driven alienation and attendant issues (well-rendered in both internal monol
Jun 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm not going to review the plot of the book as much as its themes, but a bit of summation is necessary.

Tedla, as you've read from the blurb, is a non-sexual gender called a bland. It (this is how Tedla refers to itself, while being well aware of the derogatory and dehumanizing nature of this pronoun) is a member of a species that is born without gender. There are no nuclear family units- all children are raised in creches. At the age of puberty (12 or 13 years), the children in this culture are
This Is Not The Michael You're Looking For
Halfway Human is a story about a society which has done away with sexism, racism, caste and class structure, by creating a new group of asexual androgynous individuals who are the new focus of sexism, racism, caste, and class discrimination. The story is mostly focused on a particular neutered individual (colloquial known as a bland) named Tedla who has escaped her home planet and culture into a different "enlightened" society without her homeland's biases. Most of the story is told in flashback ...more
Mary Czarnecki
Jun 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow-- I don't think I've read really good sci-fi in a long time.. wait I take that back-- there was "The Martian", which was excellent, but more about space travel & surviving on a dead planet. And "Station Eleven", which was not really sci-fi, just apocalyptic & character-driven. This book, publ. in 1998, was about humanity all the way-- it just so happens to take place on 2 different planets way in the future. I won't stop thinking abt this story for a long time to come-- it's a lot ab ...more
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Feminist Science ...: Halfway Human by Carolyn Ives Gilman (January 2016) 22 34 Feb 23, 2016 01:36PM  
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Carolyn Ives Gilman has been publishing science fiction and fantasy for almost twenty years. Her first novel, Halfway Human, published by Avon/Eos in 1998, was called “one of the most compelling explorations of gender and power in recent SF” by Locus magazine. Her short fiction has appeared in magazines and anthologies such as F&SF, Bending the Landscape, The Year’s Best Science Fiction, Realm ...more
More about Carolyn Ives Gilman

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“Powerlessness is such a lure, such a poisonous lure.” 1 likes
“commodification of information is the only thing that’s made space travel economically feasible. It’s the only commodity whose value exceeds its transportation cost. We’d be exporting biologicals or photonics if it paid. But our trading partners can build the machines and grow the organics much cheaper than we can send them, if they just have the codes and specs. If information were free, the way the radicals want, then there would be nothing to trade, and there goes the only incentive for interstellar ties.” 1 likes
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