I’m not all that into music but “Dangerous Space,” by Kelly Eskridge won me over by plugging me into what’s like for people who are. Mars is a brilliant “sound guy” who seems supremely confident and competent, untouchable save for one vulnerability–music. In the perfect little divey bar, the opening band, Noir, goes on stage and:
…the drummer brought down his sticks, the bass walked in, the guitar wailed an impossible chord, and the singer opened his mouth and took me apart and put me back together again and again and again.
As Mars later boasts:
it’s my talent to hear the heart of a thing and make other people hear it too.
Mars talks to the lead singer, Duncan, and offers to do their sound. With Mars’s help, the band is on their way to success. Just as we’re getting used to a world of mp3s and road tours and House of Blues, F-tech abruptly appears, a technology that allows you to feel what other people are feeling. Mars has such an intense relationship with Duncan, I’m not convinced it really adds anything. I could hardly tell the sex scenes apart from the F-tech scenes from the flirting scenes. Mars is so sensitive and perceptive of emotions, it verges on telepathic; you could almost leave out the F-tech and call this a fantasy.
Just as the story could be science fiction or fantasy or something in between, Mars could be either a man or a woman or someone in between. It wasn’t until I started poking around to see what others thought and found things like this interview that I realized I had not noticed that Mars’s sex is never stated. Usually that’s one of the first things I want to know about the viewpoint character. How did that happen?
When I reread it to see how I reacted, I found a lot of world-weary, world-wise tough-guy talk, full of casual references to breaking expectations and breaking bones. It’s so noir (pun intended), I immediately thought Mars was male. As Mars was attracted to Duncan, I figured Mars was gay. And as the sexual tension with Duncan mounts, I just wanted to know if the band was going to survive them.
When I got to the end, all I could say was Wow.