The Core of the Sun
3/5. Translation from the Finish. A weird (that's a genre designation, to be clear) specfic alternate history where women have been "domesticated" – i.e. genetically and socially altered to be stupid, docile, and of a specific blonde stacked phenotype. I assume it serves as sufficient content notes to say that this is a society where depriving a man of heterosexual sex is considered a violation of his human rights. Our protagonist was born with the right look, but the wrong mind. She can pass as an "eloi," but she's actually a morlock, or one of the women too smart to be allowed to reproduce (yes, that's an HG Wells reference). Anyway, all of that is backdrop to an exceedingly strange story about her addiction to capsaicin and the synesthetic, transcendental high she can get from it.
So let's talk about the omegaverse, since I spent most of this book thinking about it. The thing is. The thing
is. I have always been dubious of the omegaverse, occasionally entertained by it, occasionally impressed by it. And this book made me think about it a lot because it's another universe where a gender's sociopolitical inferiority – and its status as sexual and reproductive slaves in all but name – is specifically rooted in biology. In actual
biology, I mean, not in the largely illusory things that are supposed to define the difference between men and women in our world. Women in this book are genuinely unintelligent and genuinely unable to care for themselves; it's lack of schooling, yes, but it's also physiological. Omegas in a lot of "traditional" omegaverse are physiologically programmed for social and sexual submissiveness and passivity to the point where consent and autonomy no longer have any meaning.
And I just. I have come to be pretty certain that a universe in which rape culture is coded into biology isn't going to be telling me anything particularly new or interesting or insightful about our universe, in which rape culture is encoded into . . . culture.
This book didn't (though it was doing a number of other interesting things . . . did I mention the capsaicin addiction? And our protagonist's missing sister, and a last-minute turn to the . . . weirdly fantastical?). And very, very, very few omegaverse stories ever have, either, though many of them explicitly claim to be doing so. Which is not a huge surprise, but it was nice that this book worked me through my thought process on it.