Elizabeth A. Lynn, A Different Light (1978)

A first novel: terminally ill artist Jimson Alleca decides he will travel with his old lover Russell on a mission to acquire a mask from the planet Demea. The mission is risky enough, but Jimson will die without proper medication. But perhaps his art will help them survive.

Definitely a novel of two halves, as the consequences of the illness play out. Not a novel that made me want to go out and buy up everything I’ve missed by the author, but I’d pick it up if I saw it.

For once there is no coyness about the characters: they are gay and we see them having a love life – and Russell has played the field having abandoned Jimson a decade or more before. At the same time we have the old Gay Gothic where one or more of the lovers (usually the passive partner) has to die, be killed or commit suicide. The thread of telepathy that runs through the middle of the nopvels allows him to cheat death by becoming a none material, but Russell Can Never Know. No happily ever afters.

Note the novel gave its name to a LGBT bookshop.


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