Mini Book Review of The Seep by Chana Porter (2020)
A breezy and smart twist on invasion scifi. The Seep is the alien entity that gently permeates the world, connecting everything into a (utopian?) network. Trina, our main character, is a somewhat contrarian middle-aged trans woman. I loved the strong sense of voice we get through her, and her unease in the apparent bliss of this weird new world.
The dialogue is excellent, and the sparse writing style is elegantly reserved throughout. This book felt like a literary-fiction romance novella with an uncanny scifi twist!
Plot conflict arises not-so-much from the alien conceits as from, refreshingly, the interpersonal dramas of the still-mostly-human characters. (There is a bartender who is, endearingly, a bear.) Trina’s partner has decided to follow the latest Seep trend to be reborn a baby. The novel explores category indeterminacy and identity politics in a way that feels relevant, fresh, and sensitive without becoming preachy or overtly polemical.
A favorite sequence describes the Seep-induced transcendence of a cult-leader-musician with a real touch of visceral language. This ecstatic, floating union is described as delirious body horror. The physicality of this moment really captures what I liked about The Seep. Chana Porter let her weird world feel lived in, really embodied, with a reserved poetry of style.