Wednesday, September 10, 2008
L. Timmel Duchamp's De Secretis Mulierum: A Novella
The other book back from the printer is the twenty-second volume in the Conversation Pieces series, my own novella, De Secretis Mulierum. This was originally published by the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in the May 1995 issue. Don't be fooled by the Latin title: this is one of my comedic stories (remember "Motherhood, Etc."?) and gave me a huge amount of pleasure to write. Following a brief frame, the narrative begins with these sentences:
If countless numbers of people throughout history have wished for an early menopause, probably no one wished more devoutly for it than Thomas Aquinas. No doubt he literally prayed for it morning, noon, and night. A picture comes to mind of him kneeling in his cell, pleading with the Virgin for release from a burden even Job hadn't been forced to bear.
The situation is this: according to the Pentagon-owned-and-operated Past-Scan Device, Leonardo da Vinci and Thomas Aquinas were both women in drag. Jane Pendler's advisor says that's impossible, that the technology must be bogus, and pulls the plug on Jane's dissertation research on Leonardo. What's a feminist graduate student to do? What else, but do the research behind her advisor's back, of course…
The few reviews the story got back then were lengthy & favorable. "A masterful exploration of sexual identity and sexual mastery …marvelously intricate…" said the reviewer for Tangent (Summer 1995). And Locus put it on its annual list of recommended readings for 1995.
You can purchase it now through Aqueduct's site for $9 (though it will be available in a few other places in the next month or two). Of course, if you have a subscription, they'll soon be arriving in your mailbox, since Tom mailed subscription copies out this morning...