Hot Best Seller

Future Feeling

Availability: Ready to download

An embittered dog walker obsessed with a social media influencer inadvertently puts a curse a young man—and must adventure into mysterious dimension in order to save him—in this wildly inventive, delightfully subversive, genre-nonconforming debut novel about illusion, magic, technology, kinship, and the emergent future. The year is 20__, and Penfield R. Henderson is in a ru An embittered dog walker obsessed with a social media influencer inadvertently puts a curse a young man—and must adventure into mysterious dimension in order to save him—in this wildly inventive, delightfully subversive, genre-nonconforming debut novel about illusion, magic, technology, kinship, and the emergent future. The year is 20__, and Penfield R. Henderson is in a rut. When he’s not walking dogs for cash or responding to booty calls from his B-list celebrity hookup, he’s holed up in his dingy Bushwick apartment obsessing over holograms of Aiden Chase, a fellow trans man and influencer documenting his much smoother transition into picture-perfect masculinity on the Gram. After an IRL encounter with Aiden leaves Pen feeling especially resentful, Pen enlists his roommates, the Witch and the Stoner-Hacker, to put their respective talents to use in hexing Aiden. Together, they gain access to Aiden’s social media account and post a picture of Pen’s aloe plant, Alice, tied to a curse: Whosoever beholds the aloe will be pushed into the Shadowlands. When the hex accidentally bypasses Aiden, sending another young trans man named Blithe to the Shadowlands (the dreaded emotional landscape through which every trans person must journey to achieve true self-actualization), the Rhiz (the quasi-benevolent big brother agency overseeing all trans matters) orders Pen and Aiden to team up and retrieve him. The two trace Blithe to a dilapidated motel in California and bring him back to New York, where they try to coax Blithe to stop speaking only in code and awkwardly try to pass on what little trans wisdom they possess. As the trio makes its way in a world that includes pitless avocados and subway cars that change color based on occupants’ collective moods but still casts judgment on anyone not perfectly straight, Pen starts to learn that sometimes a family isn’t just the people who birthed you. Magnificently imagined, linguistically dazzling, and riotously fun, Future Feeling presents an alternate future in which advanced technology still can’t replace human connection but may give the trans community new ways to care for its own.


Compare

An embittered dog walker obsessed with a social media influencer inadvertently puts a curse a young man—and must adventure into mysterious dimension in order to save him—in this wildly inventive, delightfully subversive, genre-nonconforming debut novel about illusion, magic, technology, kinship, and the emergent future. The year is 20__, and Penfield R. Henderson is in a ru An embittered dog walker obsessed with a social media influencer inadvertently puts a curse a young man—and must adventure into mysterious dimension in order to save him—in this wildly inventive, delightfully subversive, genre-nonconforming debut novel about illusion, magic, technology, kinship, and the emergent future. The year is 20__, and Penfield R. Henderson is in a rut. When he’s not walking dogs for cash or responding to booty calls from his B-list celebrity hookup, he’s holed up in his dingy Bushwick apartment obsessing over holograms of Aiden Chase, a fellow trans man and influencer documenting his much smoother transition into picture-perfect masculinity on the Gram. After an IRL encounter with Aiden leaves Pen feeling especially resentful, Pen enlists his roommates, the Witch and the Stoner-Hacker, to put their respective talents to use in hexing Aiden. Together, they gain access to Aiden’s social media account and post a picture of Pen’s aloe plant, Alice, tied to a curse: Whosoever beholds the aloe will be pushed into the Shadowlands. When the hex accidentally bypasses Aiden, sending another young trans man named Blithe to the Shadowlands (the dreaded emotional landscape through which every trans person must journey to achieve true self-actualization), the Rhiz (the quasi-benevolent big brother agency overseeing all trans matters) orders Pen and Aiden to team up and retrieve him. The two trace Blithe to a dilapidated motel in California and bring him back to New York, where they try to coax Blithe to stop speaking only in code and awkwardly try to pass on what little trans wisdom they possess. As the trio makes its way in a world that includes pitless avocados and subway cars that change color based on occupants’ collective moods but still casts judgment on anyone not perfectly straight, Pen starts to learn that sometimes a family isn’t just the people who birthed you. Magnificently imagined, linguistically dazzling, and riotously fun, Future Feeling presents an alternate future in which advanced technology still can’t replace human connection but may give the trans community new ways to care for its own.

30 review for Future Feeling

  1. 4 out of 5

    TimInCalifornia

    Pen, Aiden, and Blithe, the three trans guys in the book, learn that growing up to be a healthy human adult means dealing with all of life's issues, not just their trans identity. Defining for oneself a meaningful career, fulfilling friendships and sexual relationships, a life purpose, is so much more than, yet never separate from, living in one's true gender. Future Feeling gives a glimpse into the emotional journey of socially and physically transitioning female (as assigned at birth) to male. Pen, Aiden, and Blithe, the three trans guys in the book, learn that growing up to be a healthy human adult means dealing with all of life's issues, not just their trans identity. Defining for oneself a meaningful career, fulfilling friendships and sexual relationships, a life purpose, is so much more than, yet never separate from, living in one's true gender. Future Feeling gives a glimpse into the emotional journey of socially and physically transitioning female (as assigned at birth) to male. Lake accomplishes this in a way that is more nuanced than any novel I’ve previously read and certainly more fun and entertaining. Having personal experience with this journey some 20+ years ago, I’m typically not inclined to revisit the experience in either fiction or non-fiction. Future Feeling is a completely on point read in this regard because the story itself is dealing with exactly WHY I warily approach art or news or anything else that seeks to immerse me in the emotional landscape of mapping the journey of transition and integrating a newly transitioned body into the world. Much in the world where I transitioned has changed, certainly it was a different place than the world of Future Feeling, but yet the essentials of the journey transcend time or place. I don't think one has to be trans, or even know a trans person, to enjoy the book as Lake's easy, flowing prose and intriguing fantasy world are enough to draw readers in. When I was in grammar school we had mood rings which purportedly changed color if you were happy, sad, or angry. In Future Feeling, bio-metric data has been extensively collected and studied and is constantly reflected back to society in a rainbow of colors that represent overall well-being and the source of that well-being. The effects of systemic racism imbue colors on the spectrum, as does the amount of parental love one receives, the level of acceptance or reactivity one extends to others, and all manner of vicissitudes of human emotional experience. Like so much data that has been accumulated and learned by society generally, one wonders if society is using the data to better understand themselves and improve life or if it's just another piece of knowledge that changes little on a fundamental level. A notable difference from my era - there are trans, social media celebrities. As we see from Pen, the main protagonist in the book, realizing one is trans is no longer isolating in that you think you're the only person out there, but rather that now there is a media image of what the perfect, glamorous trans person's life is. A sculpted body, material success, and other props of social status become the measuring stick of your own transition success. Addictively looking at his phone to compare himself to Aiden, who has a huge social media following, creates a different type of isolation where Pen feels he isn’t successful or can't achieve the success and adoration Aiden has, and he both envies Aiden and hates him for it. In the world of Future Feeling, it's relatively easy to find other people of trans experience. There's even a well-funded organization that serves as support and guardians of trans persons’ well-being. In this future world, material barriers to transition are largely removed. And yet...even with this organized community, even with trans elders to magically guide and advise at critical junctures, even with the monetary challenges removed, being trans is shown to be a solitary and highly-individualized experience. No matter our background, whether with supportive or non-supportive parents, whether from wealth or the working class, whether a person of color or white, whether an only child or with siblings, each trans person must navigate the experience on their own. It is a solitary exploration, excavation, and rejuvenation. Even trans friends can only bear witness and, hopefully, keep one from getting lost in the "Shadowlands" as the book calls it. Really strong first novel from Joss Lake. The world building wasn’t quite as crisp toward the end (in L.A.) and the flow of the story was disjointed enough at times that I wondered if my e-book version had not formatted properly and left out a sentence or paragraph. However, those minor comments don’t distract from this 5 star reading experience. Many thanks to #netgalley and #softskullpress for the ARC.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Bertie (LuminosityLibrary)

    I didn't enjoy this book at all. Perhaps you should give it a go if you like satirical writing and the idea of a book that blends together literary, sci-fi, and fantasy traditions. I found it a little bit difficult to gauge how seriously I should be taking this book. I really enjoyed the more heartfelt scenes and the discussion of the messiness of trans men and queer lives. Other scenes really put me off. There are offhand comments that sat wrong with me: a character described as a lesbian who s I didn't enjoy this book at all. Perhaps you should give it a go if you like satirical writing and the idea of a book that blends together literary, sci-fi, and fantasy traditions. I found it a little bit difficult to gauge how seriously I should be taking this book. I really enjoyed the more heartfelt scenes and the discussion of the messiness of trans men and queer lives. Other scenes really put me off. There are offhand comments that sat wrong with me: a character described as a lesbian who seems to only sleep with trans men, a character saying they got someone a wheelchair so people would know there's something wrong with them, two white characters discussing if they could take part in indigenous practices and deciding between themselves that yes they could, gender non-conforming people met with confusion... Despite some positives, I just didn't like this. Follow me on my Blog, Twitter, and Instagram.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Janna

    “Future Feeling” by Joss Lake was one of my most highly anticipated reads this year and I was so lucky to receive an ARC from softskullpress! Thank you so much! This book is definitely something else, which is also why it is quite hard to describe what it is about. Let’s say it’s a low-key fantasy/science-fiction novel that features a trans protagonist, who wants to hex social-media-famous Aiden but ends up hexing another trans man to the so called Shadowlands instead. I know that sounds confusing “Future Feeling” by Joss Lake was one of my most highly anticipated reads this year and I was so lucky to receive an ARC from softskullpress! Thank you so much! This book is definitely something else, which is also why it is quite hard to describe what it is about. Let’s say it’s a low-key fantasy/science-fiction novel that features a trans protagonist, who wants to hex social-media-famous Aiden but ends up hexing another trans man to the so called Shadowlands instead. I know that sounds confusing but I promise it gets a bit better when you keep reading. What I really loved about this book was the huge amount of trans representation. Usually, if there’s a trans character in a book, that’s it. That’s the representation. But “Future Feeling” is full of diverse trans characters, who all have different ambitions and different stories to tell. However, I did feel a bit uncomfortable with the focus on trans people always doing/wanting to do medical transitions. With so many trans characters present, it would have been amazing to see some other trans characters, who, like so many people in real life, don’t want to medically transition. I also did not get why the author chose to use the word trans as a noun. The trans community is actively trying to educate cis people on how to use the word trans – it is an adjective, using it as a noun is dehumanizing. The same goes for using the word “transgendered”. I don’t particularly fancy the idea that cis readers will take from this that they can and should use these words in this way for trans people too. It was fascinating to read about a world that is quite similar to ours, but still has changed in so many aspects. It’s the little things like holograms for me. The main character is messy and quite unlikeable at first, but I enjoyed that he developed throughout the book. Other than a lot of queer representation, there is also Jewish representation (main character), Chinese representation (important side character) and Black representation (minor side character). I did struggle a bit with the lack of chapters (there were three) and the scene/time jumps that happened throughout the book. There were quite a few side characters that showed up at once and then never really had any kind of impact on the plot later on. This books comes out June 1st and if you’re looking for a more experimental take on sci-fi/fantasy blend with a trans protagonist, you should give it a try! TW: racism, transphobia, misgendering, deadnaming, graphic sex Instagram / Readerly / TikTok / Twitter /

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jess

    Thanks Soft Skull Press for sending this finished copy! Rounding up to 4 stars. I enjoyed this book but also found its frenetic energy overwhelming at times. This futuristic social thriller reminded me at times of Labyrinth Lost, Black Buck, Juliet Takes a Breath, and Ready Player One. I loved the unapologetically trans cast of characters!

  5. 4 out of 5

    R.J. Sorrento

    Future Feeling is part satire and part SFF and different from any book I’ve read about the trans guy experience. There are some great moments and lines that really stand out, but at times I wanted to know the characters better, especially Penfield, as I followed him through his misadventures. Thank you to Soft Skull Press for the finished copy.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Hunter Burke

    What a weird, wacky, wonderful book this is. Future Feeling by Joss Lake is really unlike anything I’ve read before. It’s set in a near future world with a trans masc protagonist and a whole host of trans and queer characters along the way. What really worked for me in this novel was the writing itself. Joss Lake has a really clear voice, this being his debut novel. There’s wit, humor, and a lot of heart to be found within these pages. Lake does an excellent job crafting Penfield, our narrator, What a weird, wacky, wonderful book this is. Future Feeling by Joss Lake is really unlike anything I’ve read before. It’s set in a near future world with a trans masc protagonist and a whole host of trans and queer characters along the way. What really worked for me in this novel was the writing itself. Joss Lake has a really clear voice, this being his debut novel. There’s wit, humor, and a lot of heart to be found within these pages. Lake does an excellent job crafting Penfield, our narrator, fleshing out all the unseemly, unfinished parts of him and setting him off on a journey towards healing. There are obviously lots of interesting things being explored here in terms of gender: transness itself, queerness, gender presentation, the grueling journey towards self actualization. By setting this story in a near future, sci-fi world, Lake is able to explore these topics with a bit of the surreal that wouldn’t have come through in a more realistic setting. There’s a lot to love here, but this definitely does feel like a first novel at times. The biggest thing for me is that we don’t get a ton of context about this near future world and the ways that it differs from ours. We’re very much dropped in media res, and given nuggets of information along the way, but the world itself doesn’t feel whole enough on its own for us to be able to keep up as we’re given details but by bit. In the third act we do get a lot of context, specifically about the far-reaching queer organization the Rhiz, but it happens so late in the novel that it feels a little like an afterthought. What we do learn about the Rhiz, however, is really thrilling. It made me want more: more history, more time exploring the Rhiz-Port, more info on the Operatrixes. I also wanted more from Aiden Chase as a character. Similarly, we don’t really get to know much about him until the third act, and he feels a little flat throughout the beginning of the novel (which feels purposeful considering Penfield is our POV character, and that’s how he views Aiden). Most of these issues come back to pacing and plotting, but for a debut novel there could be much bigger issues. What I loved most is the scope of this novel. Future Feeling is ambitious in what it undertakes. Although at times I didn’t know where the journey was leading me, Joss Lake definitely stuck the landing. This was a really satisfying celebration of queerness itself, and I can’t wait to see what Joss Lake does next.

  7. 4 out of 5

    MJ (The Book Recluse)

    Released June 1, 2021 Future Feeling By. Josh Lake Soft Skull Press P. 294 Format: eArc Rating: **** ********************** I received an e-arc from @Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. ********************** Future Feeling is a mystical trans fantasy novel. If that does not hook you instantly, then this may not be the novel for you. Penfield R. Henderson is a dog walker in New York. He is haunted by the R in his name which stands for Ruth, the last remnant of his gender a Released June 1, 2021 Future Feeling By. Josh Lake Soft Skull Press P. 294 Format: eArc Rating: **** ********************** I received an e-arc from @Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. ********************** Future Feeling is a mystical trans fantasy novel. If that does not hook you instantly, then this may not be the novel for you. Penfield R. Henderson is a dog walker in New York. He is haunted by the R in his name which stands for Ruth, the last remnant of his gender assigned at birth. He is also haunted by Aiden, a trans super influencer on the gram. Aiden shows a life that is a little too perfect. It is too much for Penfield to take. So, he does what any logical trans man would do. He uses his hacker roommate to hack into Aiden’s social media account. Then, he has his witch roommate send out a hex. Except, the hex does not hit Aiden. Instead it attaches itself Blithe, a trans man adopted from China. The hex sends Blithe to the Shadowlands. The Rhiz, a mythical organization for all trans beings, charge Penfield and Aiden to work together to bring him back. This book is written whimsically, but covers very deep topics. The book itself is amazing. I wish there was a Rhiz organization to initiate and connect all trans beings. The relationships that are formed are messy, but they are all the better for it. This novel is a validation to all trans beings that you are not alone. For all non trans beings, then it allows you a glimpse into the mystical tribe. For the most part, this book is set in a very familiar everyday setting. However, the technology is just slightly advanced. I think this was done, mostly, to highlight the more fantastical elements of the novel. It really makes more of a fusion novel than one set in any specific genre. Which, especially considering the subject matter, really works well.

  8. 4 out of 5

    L. Skyford

    I was lucky to have an ARC loaned to me based on my love of scifi, romance, and LGBTQI+ stories. Preorder your copy from your local indie bookstore day! Wow. This book is: wow. I have a very similar feeling to when I finished Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, like I am also the one on drugs; what I assume it’s like to be on psilocybin shrooms. This book has one of the most unique voices I think I’ve ever read; an un-annoying millennial-like trans guy who finds himself on a journey from self-degrada I was lucky to have an ARC loaned to me based on my love of scifi, romance, and LGBTQI+ stories. Preorder your copy from your local indie bookstore day! Wow. This book is: wow. I have a very similar feeling to when I finished Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, like I am also the one on drugs; what I assume it’s like to be on psilocybin shrooms. This book has one of the most unique voices I think I’ve ever read; an un-annoying millennial-like trans guy who finds himself on a journey from self-degradation to self-acceptance. Penfield is navigating all the trials of early trans-hood: acceptance in traditionally masc spheres, internal growth, relationship navigation, along with all the normal tribulations of a 20-something getting their shit together: meaningless job, annoying roommates, family. When Pen gets rebuffed by a trans influencer, Aiden, with who he is low-key obsessed, he has his roommates, The Witch, and The Stoner-Hacker, hex Aiden. The hex goes wrong and lands on another young trans guy, Blithe. The Rhiz, the secret queer org, employ Pen and Aiden to save Blithe. But that’s only the first half of the story of Pen, Aiden, and Blithe finding their paths. When you begin, you also think you are reading a traditionally structured story but rather than being broken into chapters, it’s broken into what is, essentially, acts or phases. Also, though the narrative is linear, the reveal of information is occasionally delivered in the form of documents, written by the characters, which is just delightful and clever. There is also new tech that mixes with current tech, think holograms in phones activated in Instagram, which enhances the quasi-sci-fi element of it. As someone who looks at their gender from the corner of their eye, as if to say, “what am I supposed to do with this,” it was wonderful to submerge myself in entirely trans voices, to travel on Pen’s journey, and to be reassured of my happiness right where I’m at. I’m also honored to have gleamed into the world, perspective, and views of a trans person; the world needs more trans stories and I’ll be recommending this book to all my queer and cis friends. -Ford

  9. 5 out of 5

    Charlie Herndon

    tw: use of "bodies" , "spaces" because I am a hack A millennial-pink dystopia embellished with Brooklyn bodegas, cookie-cutter apartments, succulents, and toxic Instagram posts. Indicts wellness culture and late-stage capitalism's focus on maintaining; maintaining serotonin levels, exercising to exorcise demons, talk therapy and dopamine hits from social media likes. Trans bodies cloaked in guilt, shame that they can't emulate gay cis bodies, dysphoric dissociative episodes during sex. A pacified tw: use of "bodies" , "spaces" because I am a hack A millennial-pink dystopia embellished with Brooklyn bodegas, cookie-cutter apartments, succulents, and toxic Instagram posts. Indicts wellness culture and late-stage capitalism's focus on maintaining; maintaining serotonin levels, exercising to exorcise demons, talk therapy and dopamine hits from social media likes. Trans bodies cloaked in guilt, shame that they can't emulate gay cis bodies, dysphoric dissociative episodes during sex. A pacified paradise that explores new ideas like private-funded trans healthcare agencies, while it also escapes older ideas, updating the limits of Atwood's second-wave feminism. Identity politics promoted by corporations is as exhausting as the onslaught of products that tell us how to live, teach us how to breathe. What's refreshing is that the queer "found family" is imperfect, the main characters self-loathe, bond through their self-loathing. Together they undergo hardships, ask the question of what does it mean to survive, thrive nowadays beyond the pitifully low bar of "self-care", day-to-day survival. Remember to update your software, take your antidepressants, inject your T. This is great work.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Trent

    Such a unique and quirky book. I have to say, I've never read anything quite like it and it took me a little bit to get used to the writing style. That said, it was completely worth it and just showed really how well-written and thought-out this book was. A combination of so many different genres and unlike any book about queer / trans folks that's out there, it really challenges so many narratives and ideas of how to write about trans people and what is 'okay.' A great book for so many people - Such a unique and quirky book. I have to say, I've never read anything quite like it and it took me a little bit to get used to the writing style. That said, it was completely worth it and just showed really how well-written and thought-out this book was. A combination of so many different genres and unlike any book about queer / trans folks that's out there, it really challenges so many narratives and ideas of how to write about trans people and what is 'okay.' A great book for so many people -- those interested in magical realism, queer theory, fiction in general or...!

  11. 4 out of 5

    John

    4.5 “‘Now we inscribe that you are here to help, to grow, to fight, to plant, to agitate, to assemble in the spirit of queer abundance now and forever,’ they all chanted…How improbable, how strong, these pathways towards collective good, I thought”

  12. 5 out of 5

    Emily Zhou

    a sprawling work of masc camp

  13. 5 out of 5

    Lynette

    A fun, riveting book that I couldn’t put down. At times it had me near tears, at others laughing out loud. The sci-fi elements were a delight. It was a pleasure to read about trans men navigating a near-future that was part dystopia, part utopia, and a believable extension of life today. Also, idk if this is tacky to mention in a review, but the sex scenes?? *chef’s kiss* Magnificent.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kristen

    This is the story of Penfield R. Henderson, who is a trans man who lives in New York City in the not-so-far-flung future. He's a dog-walker, and has a secret celebrity hookup, and when he's not busy with those, he is obsessing over Aiden Chase, who is also a trans man, and one who appears (per his Gram account) to have achieved absolute physical perfection. When he meets Aiden IRL, and gets more or less blown-off, Pen employs his roommates, the Stoner-Hacker, and the Witch to put a hex on Aiden. This is the story of Penfield R. Henderson, who is a trans man who lives in New York City in the not-so-far-flung future. He's a dog-walker, and has a secret celebrity hookup, and when he's not busy with those, he is obsessing over Aiden Chase, who is also a trans man, and one who appears (per his Gram account) to have achieved absolute physical perfection. When he meets Aiden IRL, and gets more or less blown-off, Pen employs his roommates, the Stoner-Hacker, and the Witch to put a hex on Aiden. But the hex misses Aiden and instead hits another young trans man named Blithe and pushes him into the Shadowlands, which is (and I'm not going to be able to phrase this better than the blurb does) 'the dreaded emotional landscape through which every trans person must journey to achieve true self-actualization'. The Rhiz (a sort of mildly-omnipotent agency which oversees trans matters) tells Pen and Aiden that they must find Blithe and help him out of the Shadowlands. So, Aiden and Pen team up to track him down. And of course, many shenanigans are had along the way. I liked this book, but I didn't love it quite as much as I was expecting to. It is, just as I imagined it would be, bizarre as hell, and it took me a little while to really settle into it. That said, I still read it in a day, in just two sittings, because I found it very easy to pick up and read for hours at a time. I didn't find myself cheering for any one character in particular, most of the time, but sort of hoping for the best for all three of them. I enjoyed how the relationship between all three characters had evolved through their whole adventure together, and by the end, I was satisfied with how everything turned out, even if I thought the book itself ended rather abruptly. My biggest problems were that sometimes the timeline was hard to keep track of, and often weeks or months would pass with no apparent change in anything happening. I actually have no idea how long these three spent in Pen's tiny apartment. In terms of the book, it was maybe a third? In terms of time, I think it was several months, but I actually have no idea. Sometimes things would happen that really had no real relevance to the plot and seemed out of place. Like Pen would go out for drinks with a previously unmentioned friend, or go to the pool, or something like that and it would throw me out of the story a bit because none of it seemed to matter to things that were happening. At times, it felt like it was trying to do a little too much at once. All told though, I thought it was unique AF and told an interesting story. I enjoyed my afternoon with it. ^_^ Thanks to the author, as well as Soft Skull Press via NetGalley for the review copy!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Abbey

    What was this/I loved this/this is real life

  16. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

    I read and reviewed Future Feeling for Real Change News, You can read my review here, complete with the beautiful illustrations the newspaper commissioned: https://www.realchangenews.org/news/2.... You can also read my interview with Joss Lake here: https://www.realchangenews.org/news/2... “A few years ago, I became a man in the city.” Future Feeling is a science fiction novel following the redemptive journey of a trans man who is guided by a mysterious queer organization called the Rhiz. Th I read and reviewed Future Feeling for Real Change News, You can read my review here, complete with the beautiful illustrations the newspaper commissioned: https://www.realchangenews.org/news/2.... You can also read my interview with Joss Lake here: https://www.realchangenews.org/news/2... “A few years ago, I became a man in the city.” Future Feeling is a science fiction novel following the redemptive journey of a trans man who is guided by a mysterious queer organization called the Rhiz. The book’s title fully encompasses the author’s interpretation of a possible future, narrated with the correlating emotion at the forefront: What could it be like to be trans in the future? Which thoughts racing through Pen’s head are influenced by this society’s rules? Who are queer people allowed to be here, and how does it make them feel? The world of the novel closely resembles ours, but the beauty of an organization like the Rhiz existing feels entirely utopian and sublime: The organization’s representatives appear out of nowhere, hold a wisdom beyond expectations, pay for surgeries and offer health insurance for the queer community. The novel is fantastical in one sense, mundane in others, and in all senses entirely queer and unique in its exploration of transness. The three main characters are all trans men, and the story’s overarching position is that every transition needs to be felt and truly journeyed through. From a character who transitioned in isolation to one who posts daily updates on the beauty of his transness, Future Feeling allows the full range of trans experience to shine. The narrator is Pen, a “melancholic, dog-walking trans guy” prone to extensive monologues. I seriously enjoyed the push-and-pull of fascination and disgust he feels toward another character, someone living what he perceives to be a dreamlike state of gender, transition and social media celebrity status. Pen needed a guide and beacon of hope during his transition, but he also feels resentment because his life did not end up the way social media promises. Essentially, Future Feeling is about how ushering a fellow trans person through their full transition experience is a journey in itself. This relatable storyline is made enigmatic by the backing of the Rhiz, a somewhat idyllic billionaire-funded organization led by queer elders and equipped with hologram technology that watches over the well-being of the LGBTQ+ community. Future Feeling portrays many of the in-between moments of transitioning that are uniquely euphoric, frustrating and desperate: from Pen announcing to his yoga instructor that he can’t do the boat pose properly because he bound his chest for 10 years, to when he recognizes bartenders who used to ignore him before he was on hormone therapy, to the court’s outrageous request that Pen’s name change petition be more elaborate and dramatic. Society turns something personal and meaningful into a performance piece on the ups and downs of transness: “ Give us something juicy. Trans is juicy.” Lake reveals Pen’s internal debates on when to choose gender normativity, familiar to any trans person: “I wanted to transition enough to ‘male’ that I could reunite with certain girlhood parts and not have to explain myself.” He struggles with feeling protective of women in his life, but “not in a patriarchal way, I hope.” And, upon Pen’s regular visits to the sauna, he even acknowledges the clear comfort of “no longer (being) worried about someone noticing my lack of thick schlong.” The story also serves as an invitation to trans and gender-questioning people. Pen is a protagonist who will meet you where you are, as long as you’ll meet him where he is, too — in spirit and attitude, in fitting rooms where the curtain only half closes and in both positive and negative feelings, such as resentment toward people who transitioned with more support than he had. The tech inside the Future Feeling world is fascinating; there are toys like pheromone crayons and fashion items as a result of the defunding of NASA. When enough people are looking at a photo posted online, technology is activated that brings a hologram of the image into your actual, real-world space. In a subway, bio-meters read emotional levels through seats and turn the entire car a particular color, signaling the overall mood of the area. Rich people install grass-sensors that send out tickets when a dog urinates on a patch of their lawn. And, most memorably, pitless avocados Pen simply bites into! The most extraordinary aspects, however, are when Lake shows the realism in Future Feeling. A particular moment that has a hold on my heart is when a young trans man, adopted from China by white American parents, confesses that his biological parents gave him up under China’s past one-child policy. In a haze of grief and distress, he begs Pen to call the Rhiz and “Tell them. To tell my parents. That they gave me up. But I am. A boy.” It’s an absolutely heart-breaking landscape shift, crushing in its revelations and all the questions it brings up — all the not-fictional people for whom this has an impact. I found the writing style enthralling, captivating, at times even overwhelming in its clarity. Lake’s prose reminded me of Augusten Burroughs and David Kingston Yeh, who also both write about queer men living chaotic and wildly vivid lives. The prose seamlessly switches between poetic, self-aware, philosophical musings and silly-but-realistic comments like, “She soothed me if I got sunburned at the gay beach.” I was often laughing out loud at the juxtaposition. The story is also filled with fantastic, text-like language; Pen regularly uses terms like “str8,” “tho” and “obvs.” Could this be read in one sitting? Probably, but I found the emotional weight of the many lives, regrets and desires too potent to do so. It felt best to take some time in between to process where the characters were at. In fact, I plan on visiting Future Feeling again as I develop my understanding, expressions and perceptions of gender. I received an advanced copy of Future Feeling for review.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Deelee

    The first half of this book is so fantastic--imaginative, funny, irreverent, and full of the sort of delights afforded by satire and parody, with an entirely original bent. The nebbish--insecure, petty, solipsistic, "languishing", self-deprecating but only to the end of further self-obsession--trans male narrator is love-hateable, that irritating roommate you can't kick out because his dramas and habits make for great second-hand anecdotes (and because secretly you actually like him sometimes). The first half of this book is so fantastic--imaginative, funny, irreverent, and full of the sort of delights afforded by satire and parody, with an entirely original bent. The nebbish--insecure, petty, solipsistic, "languishing", self-deprecating but only to the end of further self-obsession--trans male narrator is love-hateable, that irritating roommate you can't kick out because his dramas and habits make for great second-hand anecdotes (and because secretly you actually like him sometimes). I took so much pleasure in recognition of each oh-so-recognizable detail. For example: the maddening abs/Deep Stare of Aiden, trans influencer and thirst trap; the Witch who is ideologically opposed to cleaning on the grounds that it's anti-natural; the pampered trans guy, Blithe, whose parents tend to each stage of his transition so completely that he misses out on his destined identity crisis. I could go on! The plot offers the pleasures of every buddy comedy when mismatched duo jacked, passing Aiden and soft-tummied Pen who is deemed not manly enough to entire the men's locker room sauna at his gym (which, to be fair, seems to be a Hell's Angels outpost). And especially after reading a particularly butch trans memoir, what a relief to journey along inside a winkingly failed masculinity that subverts generations of Jewish male literary self-deprecation into a manhood perfectly designed for the Jewish trans man to kick back and smoke a join inside of. Why why WHY, then does the book end in tension-less chapters of wish fulfillment, personal growth, and pages-long treatises on the Indigenous Oaxacan origins of mushroom use and various characters of color reduced to lesson-imparters for white Pen--the lesson being, I'm not here to teach you a lesson about race. Except they are? Same for the circle-jerk of fundamentally similar people analyzing to death their minute differences with the smug mutual appreciation of those who've lost sight of their subculture's smallness, of the entire strange and unknowable world existing beyond the protection of their safe words? This sounds ironic, but I don't think it is? Or if it is, the tone is strangely discordant, implying an earnest sweetness that missed the winking, complicated observations of the earlier sections. I'd be eager to read more from this author and absolutely recorded reading *parts* of this book, but I dont think the whole thing will hold up for most lit fic and satire fans. 5 stars for the first half, 2 for the second.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Hunter

    To search within to find your most authentic self, you often need assistance in your awakening. This book evokes the ultimate connectedness and community, chosen or otherwise, that serves as a reminder of the confusion that is humanity for all of us in so many different but related ways. With themes of identity, privilege, friendship, envy, love, depression, personal growth and evolution, and more, there is a lot of commentary packed into the novel’s 294 pages. I will say after the reading the s To search within to find your most authentic self, you often need assistance in your awakening. This book evokes the ultimate connectedness and community, chosen or otherwise, that serves as a reminder of the confusion that is humanity for all of us in so many different but related ways. With themes of identity, privilege, friendship, envy, love, depression, personal growth and evolution, and more, there is a lot of commentary packed into the novel’s 294 pages. I will say after the reading the synopsis and getting into the first part of the book, I was expecting adventure. There was travel and self discovery (with help from friends and family) but not too much action, mostly just figuring shit out and living regular life while trying to do right. I’m not sure if all the explanations of the near-future setting made sense to me. There was something called “advanced tech” that I think was only described as holograms. Some of the science fiction aspects really were cool, interesting, and new to visualize but there wasn’t quite enough for me to hold on to to consider it science fiction, or even remember that the book takes place in the future half the time. I more so felt the magic of the LGBTQIA+ and Rhiz communities (also witches) being moved to use their power for loving and uplifting others so that they can have freedom to be their true selves. Not to mention the bit of magic within us all. Lake reminds us that adulthood is the time to become everything our childhood selves dreamt but never imagined could be true for our lives. Specifically for the main characters of this book, existing in a way that leads to an affirming, pleasurable, fulfilling life. Ultimately the book reminds me that we are always searching for our most true selves, belonging, and home, and that truly is the meaning of life. I felt like the writing was a bit choppy in places, some paragraph’s timing confused me. But it kind of meshed with the chaotic but somehow dream-like energy throughout. Overall, I enjoyed getting to know Pen and his friends, and would be happy to know how their lives evolve from here.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Alexx

    Okay, this book is probably one of the weirdest books I've read? And yet, I think it's also one of the most honest and raw. Let me start by saying the main character is not exactly likeable. He was full of resentment, of insecurities, a lot of hate. But we see him face his problems (that he brought upon himself), accept the challenge, and grow into a more mature, healthy adult. This journey, of course, is not an easy one. He fucks up a few (okay maybe many) times, and there are elements in his li Okay, this book is probably one of the weirdest books I've read? And yet, I think it's also one of the most honest and raw. Let me start by saying the main character is not exactly likeable. He was full of resentment, of insecurities, a lot of hate. But we see him face his problems (that he brought upon himself), accept the challenge, and grow into a more mature, healthy adult. This journey, of course, is not an easy one. He fucks up a few (okay maybe many) times, and there are elements in his life he refuses to confront, but he improves. This book also focuses on the journey of transitioning and the nuances of trans lives. It shows trans people going through the emotional, physical, and social changes when they transition. There are also lots of discussions about trans and queer lives (the good and the bad), different experiences, and more. The writing style is very frank, straightforward, maybe even with a cynical tone (especially in the first few parts when the MC hasn't achieved character development yet). As a result, there are times when it feels like it's a drag. It also blends science fiction/fantasy in the contemporary world, which can get confusing, but as you read, you learn to go with it. I want to say though, there are a few offhand comments that didn't sit right with me as I read the book. Overall, I like how Future Feeling is ultimately about a journey of self-discovery and self-reflection, to self-improvement. I think this is a memorable one. CW: graphic sex scenes/sexual content, mental illness, drug use Thank you so much to Soft Skull Press for sending over a copy! (This, of course, did not affect my overall opinion of the book.) Find me elsewhere: Instagram | Twitter | Blog

  20. 5 out of 5

    Imre Johnsen

    (Thanks to Soft Skull press who gifted me an ARC of this book.) This book follows three trans men: Penfield, our narrator, Aiden, who he is both jealous of and resents, and Blithe, who is accidentally hexed instead of Aiden to go the Shadowlands, an emotional wasteland. Pen and Aiden are tasked by the Rhiz, a big brother-like queer organisation, to retrieve him. It fills my heart to read stories with not only one trans character, but several! In addition to the main characters, there are several (Thanks to Soft Skull press who gifted me an ARC of this book.) This book follows three trans men: Penfield, our narrator, Aiden, who he is both jealous of and resents, and Blithe, who is accidentally hexed instead of Aiden to go the Shadowlands, an emotional wasteland. Pen and Aiden are tasked by the Rhiz, a big brother-like queer organisation, to retrieve him. It fills my heart to read stories with not only one trans character, but several! In addition to the main characters, there are several trans minor characters and a whole bunch of queer diversity in general. These guys are not perfect in the least, but they have a lof of growth. I didn't really like Pen, but regardless he intruiged me. I wanted to know more about him and follow him along his journey. I enjoyed this book more and mote as I went along. This mix of scifi and fantasy isn't something I'm used to, but I really want more of it. It did take me some time to understand the rules of the time and place we're in though.

  21. 5 out of 5

    James DiGiovanna

    This has some hilarious prose and a zillion great ideas (“storyboard homo whaling expedition,” says one character, making a note into his phone) but it really goes overboard on the woke jokes, with all the characters trying to outwoke each other. It’s almost a little mean? Or lazy? I dunno. But it’s an amazing representation of trans-man experiences told with way more humor and imagination than you’d expect from someone writing on this topic and with biographical knowledge of it. I expect Joss L This has some hilarious prose and a zillion great ideas (“storyboard homo whaling expedition,” says one character, making a note into his phone) but it really goes overboard on the woke jokes, with all the characters trying to outwoke each other. It’s almost a little mean? Or lazy? I dunno. But it’s an amazing representation of trans-man experiences told with way more humor and imagination than you’d expect from someone writing on this topic and with biographical knowledge of it. I expect Joss Lake will only get better as this is his first book, and it’s pretty close to 4 stars, if it hadn’t fizzled a bit in the final act.

  22. 4 out of 5

    b aaron talbot

    set in the not so distant future, where it seems the only social media is Gram (sorry, goodreads), a subtle, inventive, engaging, fun and satisfying story about identity, self, and the families we make. thoroughly enjoyable and definitely recommend reading in the approx. three 100 page chunks the novel is divided into.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Amber

    You never know how starved you are for queer characters and queer spaces and queer stories until you're reading a book like this. I can hardly believe it exists. What a weird wonderful book that reached up and punched me, that made me horny, that makes me want The Rhiz so badly. Do I have to do shrooms now? You never know how starved you are for queer characters and queer spaces and queer stories until you're reading a book like this. I can hardly believe it exists. What a weird wonderful book that reached up and punched me, that made me horny, that makes me want The Rhiz so badly. Do I have to do shrooms now?

  24. 5 out of 5

    Zoe J.

    This was a confusing book with an unexplained world and a timeline that sped up/slowed down without warning. That being said, I appreciated a story about three trans men and their different experiences with the backdrop of the ShadowLands.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jenny

    This was a fun read! A blend of sci-fi, fantasy, drama - which is something I haven’t read for awhile. I enjoyed immersing myself in a world that was futuristic which gave me a glimpse of what the potential future could look like. The diversity in characters was quite refreshing and it was interesting to see the character development and how they dealt with the obstacles together along the way.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Renee DeMoranville

    This was kind of a trippy and unusual read but I enjoyed it. It is definitely not a typical read but worth it. You can’t really label it to one genre it has a little bit of everything.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kristi

    candid and crass, tender and almost a bit of a whirlwind taste into a future as otherwise imagined

  28. 4 out of 5

    tillie hellman

    a holy shit type of book. probably one of the wackiest things i’ve ever read. very very very good

  29. 4 out of 5

    Mariah Wamby

    “Well, isn’t queer adulthood, if one is lucky, having the impossible childhood of your desires?” I received an eARC of Future Feeling by Joss Lake from Netgalley and Soft Skull Press — here is my personal review. Future Feeling was a book that I wanted to love. A story of three trans men bonding together due to a revenge curse gone awry sounded absolutely amazing. Unfortunately, I was not a fan of this book at all. The writing and pacing was choppy and all over the place. As this is an ARC I ge “Well, isn’t queer adulthood, if one is lucky, having the impossible childhood of your desires?” I received an eARC of Future Feeling by Joss Lake from Netgalley and Soft Skull Press — here is my personal review. Future Feeling was a book that I wanted to love. A story of three trans men bonding together due to a revenge curse gone awry sounded absolutely amazing. Unfortunately, I was not a fan of this book at all. The writing and pacing was choppy and all over the place. As this is an ARC I get that there is still editing to happen, but it was impossible for me to tell what was in need of editing and what was a stylistic writing choice. Honestly, after finishing this book I’m hard pressed to actually describe any characters, settings, or scenes with any confidence. This felt like more of a descriptive outline than a complete story. The bones are there, but only the creator can see what they’ll make. The book is queer positive and sex positive, so that was nice. But I just...couldn’t follow its story in anyway. This one was not for me — one star.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    Future Feeling by Joss Lake is an ambitious either not-too-distant-future or present-day-allegorical satire that centers the experiences of trans men. It’s an applaudable effort. However, the novel’s abundant weirdness and metaphorical flourishes frustratingly impede casual understanding. Unexplained world rules and a narrative as shallow as the characters it is trying to lampoon create too much work for the reader. Once you have labored through the strange words littered on the page, it doesn’t Future Feeling by Joss Lake is an ambitious either not-too-distant-future or present-day-allegorical satire that centers the experiences of trans men. It’s an applaudable effort. However, the novel’s abundant weirdness and metaphorical flourishes frustratingly impede casual understanding. Unexplained world rules and a narrative as shallow as the characters it is trying to lampoon create too much work for the reader. Once you have labored through the strange words littered on the page, it doesn’t seem worth it. Future Feeling follows Pen, a trans man obsessed with the “Gram” and the people on the platform who have been able to leverage their traditionally attractive bodies for fame and fortune. One such individual, Aiden, has everything that Pen wants, and when Pen decides to hex Aiden with the help of his witch roommate as recompense for his envy he is forced to confront his feelings of self-worth in order to rescue another trans individual from a cruel fate in the Shadowlands. This synopsis is wild. With a plot as strange and fantastical as this one, Future Feeling should be a lot more fun. I found it to be such a slog to get through, and the constant allusions to influencers and content creation seems less like commentary on a rotten social media obsessed culture and more like a validation. It doesn’t help that the book is hard to follow since Lake doesn’t spend too much time building the world and explaining “the rules” of this fantastical near-reality. Still, this kind of dysphoria and lack of a center could be part of a larger allegory the author is trying to draw as it pertains to queer experiences. While an admirable premise for a novel, it needs to have more coherence to really work. Thanks to NetGalley and Soft Skull Press for the eARC and the opportunity to leave this review.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.