How do you fight for who you are when the government control what you are? RESIST.
Andi knows being born an intersex “Transgressor” and then choosing to stay that way can have lethal consequences. After all, surgical assignment is mandated by law. But she ain’t going to spend her life hiding from the Society, hooked on Flow, and wanking tourists just to make a few bucks. She’s a member of the Trans Liberty Riot Brigade, an underground faction of Transgressors resisting the government’s war on their illegal genitalia.
But it’s not enough to tag their messages on shithouse walls and sniff down the next high. The government has found their headquarters, decimated their ranks, and they’re crushing the resistance. Though Andi might be nothing but a junktard, she embarks on a desperate dash to stay alive and send a call for help before they’re all killed—or worse, surgically assigned.
Andi, together with Brigade leader Elenbar, must get beyond the communications block preventing all radio transmission, which means crossing the seaboard Wall barricading the United Free States borders. It’s designed to keep enemies out and the citizens in, but amid increasing earthquakes and deadly pursuit, Andi will discover there’s a far more dangerous secret hidden deep within the Wall itself.
Publisher: Ninestar Press
Pairings: NB, 4+ or Other
Heat Level: 2
Romantic Content: 1
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Ace, Genderqueer, Intersex, Non Binary, Transgender
Protagonist 1 Age: 18-25
Protagonist 2 Age: 18-25
Word Count: 80000
Setting: New York City
Languages Available: English
Series Type: Continuous / Same Characters
A Sorta Prologue
“Oh yah? Well, fuck off then, you cuck!”
He’s a penny pickle dick anyhow.
I walk into the men’s public shithouse and slam the door behind me. The splintered starburst of mirror glitters under the yellow lights. The reflection’s sportin’ a shaggy haircut like someone’s gone faggin’ buggers with a pair of kitchen shears. My pupils are blown black and wide with the upshot of Flow coursin’ through my veins.
That pickle fucker ripped my shirt.READ MORE
I examine the ripped collar in the refraction of the broken glass. My hair ain’t too long, ain’t too short. I’m still man enough, should someone, maybe Pickle Fucker, come pokin’ around after me. Though, if I’m real honest, I’m gettin’ sloppy. Just like Elenbar’s always sayin’—keep yer head down, don’t draw eyes ta ya—but it’s a chafe to move through the world as a mere pockmark of who you really are. Yah, I’m still me, though they call me a “she,” but if I keep hackin’ at my hair, I’m gonna look more like the dangerous “Transgressor” news stations are always shriekin’ about. But underneath it all, underneath the shag, that’s what I am.
A Transgressor on a shithouse mission.
On the cracked vid screen in the ceiling there’s some report about us right now—another undercover operation arrestin’ a pack of Transgressors. They don’t wanna get the snip-and-clip, the assignment surgery that’ll turn us from who we are, into what they want us to be. They’re reportin’ two dead already—more to come, if you know news like we do. I shudder, imaginin’ gettin’ my delicates all mangled up by a doc with a blade and a twisted sense of divine providence.
I approach the urinals squattin’ against the far wall. Smell of piss cakes and wankin’ stains waft through the air, a strong reminder of this location’s dual purpose. I peek under the stall doors, but there ain’t no tourist trout loafers tappin’ a signal for a blowie or a pop-off. Though pickle fucker was a bust, I’m still hopin’ to cop some rand coins from a trout. Since I made the long trip and all. Don’t matter, though. There’s other work to be done.
I slip down my pants and jut my pubic bone and mini-man toward one of the white bowl interiors. Urine spurts, and I huff with relief. There ain’t no company to gawk at me, and unlike squattin’ in lady piss stalls, like a good li’l “she,” this is good, it’s good. Feels right somehow.
I zip up, don’t wash, and at the exit, I whip out the chubby marker I carry with me everywhere. The embossed man symbol on the bathroom door gets a scrawled-on miniskirt, a crotch sweeper hardly proper enough for street walkin’. Though after I finish the big circle and the crosshatch over him, li’l man’s got an identity problem, the blessed “he” symbol now one of those dreaded Transgressors. A s/he, they hiss in the not-so-quiet corners of the world. Well, the Society will be along to reassign h/er in short tit order, I’m sure.
I press a kiss on the new Transgressor. It’s a tough thing tryin’ to be alive these days.
I hear a whistle, the chitterin’ bird call of my hip-mate. Waitin’ for me to do what I came here to do. So I scrawl TLRB in big black letters on the door. Somehow it don’t seem enough. So I write “A riot is the language of the unheard” next to it, one of my fav tidbits by a righteous guy. A guy who got gunned down for bein’ the wrong color and bein’ of the wrong mind. The Society don’t like people of the wrong mind. Hey, I know, the message ain’t nothin’ fancy, but the truth don’t have to be. It’s just gotta show up.
The Trans Liberty Riot Brigade was here.COLLAPSE
Ben on The Novel Approach wrote:
“I’m a—well, I’m just me. All my bits and self equaling Andi. Just Andi.”
I went into this well-crafted tale understanding the words “trans,” “liberty,” “riot,” and “brigade” independent from each other. I had assumptions of what they meant when strung together.
I was wrong.
Dark, haunting, and intelligently written, Trans Liberty Riot Brigade shifts away from traditional gender binarism in narration to something far more complex and beautiful—a human being. I admit, at the beginning I was bothered by not knowing the gender of the main character. Not because it matters, but because I’m socially conditioned to categorize human beings in this way. By the time I was a third of the way through, my brain no longer snagged on this detail.
“I’m a shit junk-tard. Always gonna be. Nothin’ gonna change that.”
Rather, my attention panned out to the greater issues within society: greed, control, fear, and hate. These fallacies of human nature affect everyone. Andi identifies as a junkie, a prostitute, as a Transgressor for being born without license to live, made worse by still possessing intersex genitalia—what Society deems as a birth defect plaguing Andi’s generation. The focus never deviates from the question of what defines one’s humanity and how they connect to the humanity in others. I’ll give a hint: it’s not what parts you have between your legs.
What further endeared me to Andi? Slum dialect. The speech might be off-putting to some. To me it was ingenious. Here is someone most would judge as unintelligent and course. Andi reflects the base of humanity and yet shines like a progressive guiding star for the reader as we travel through the Slumlands, through the Wall, and toward the promise of freedom.
Or what Andi believes is freedom.
“I try not to think about what life, the Brigade, the Farm, the Society, what every part of my bein’ born’s been teachin’ me all along: freedom ain’t ever what it seems.”
What an amazing and daring debut novel! I loved it.
Highly Recommended to readers 17 and over. I now eagerly await book two!
First off, let me say that NineStar Press is becoming my go-to for LGBTQ+ science fiction. Most of my favorite science fiction stories of the year have been published by this press, and Trans Liberty Riot Brigade is another favorite. Their page is definitely worth a looksie if you haven’t already.
Trans Liberty Riot Brigade is as edgy as the title suggests. Taking place in a dystopian future, where intersex people are being persecuted by the government, and the United Free States is at war with the rest of the world, it’s not surprising our protagonist, Andi, grows up in rough times. She’s equally rough because of it.
The voice of Andi and the people of the time—the late 21st century—hits you within the first few sentences. The slang is tough to decipher, with an almost A Clockwork Orange feel. To highlight the setting, within the first chapter Andi’s almost raped, is repeatedly assaulted and battered, and overdoses on one of the local street drugs, Flow. And it gets worse. Between the lingo and the oppressive setting, it took me a while to pick through this story, but man was it powerful and definitely worth it.
The main theme of the novel centers around oppression by society and the ways it hurts everyone in every class, not just those in the lower classes, and, therefore, is self-destructing. Through Andi, we’re certainly exposed to how the government fucks over the lower class—holy crap. Because she’s intersex, her life is pretty much forfeit from the get-go. Her body is literally illegal for her to have. She talks about prostitution, being raised by nuns, drugs, rape, and physical and mental abuse—all because she is who she is. A little over halfway through the novel, we also get a glimpse of how the government oppresses the middle class and those it pretends to support. It eats its own tail. A lose-lose for everyone, the examples bring Pierce’s message home nicely.
Although I struggled with the creative diction, it was also probably my favorite part of the entire book. The words were believable and added to a feel that I was in a time and place that was not my own, despite the country being called the United Free States. I definitely had a Wizard of Oz moment.
The characters were also fantastic, and remarkably consistent. They…consistently beat the crap out of each other, lol. But seriously, even though they were kinda shitty people sometimes, they stuck to their guns and I respected that. If I haven’t already made this clear (along with the warning in the blurb itself) this is a pretty violent book, and the characters aren’t Captain America, Ironman, or even Batman. Andi is a part of this revolutionary Trans Riot Brigade, but it becomes pretty clear that she doesn’t really perform her brand of social activism out of a sense of responsibility to society or goodness to her heart. What is perhaps surprising is that she does have a very strong sense of loyalty and family, even if she demonstrates it poorly at times.
My one criticism of the story was that it seemed to meander off course a bit, but I must confess while I was a bit murky on where it was headed during those parts, I was still thoroughly entertained. Andi goes through significant personal evolution, so the lack of a romantic storyline or some of those other types of side plots was barely noticed by me. If this is going to be series, however, I’d like to see her form more emotional connections.
Read this if you like gritty science fiction and dystopian lit, and you’re not afraid of violence and an inventive curse word or two—ha! More like five hundred.