CONDOMNAUTS BY YOSS, TRANSLATED BY DAVID FRYE
In a future where a stripped planet Earth can barely sustain life, humanity seeks refuge in the stars—but is surprised to discover that the galactic frontier is already occupied. How is mankind expected to establish itself among an impossible array of life forms (including telekinetic insectoids and gelatinous hive-minds) while being several millennia behind in terms of technological advancement? Turns out, there’s a universal language: sex.
Despite differences in genital structures and chemical compositions, sexual ambassadors known as “condomnauts” ensure galactic peace and prosperity through intimate interspecies pacts. Yoss’ erotic cli-fi adventure follows narrator Josué Valdés through time, across space, and into hundreds (if not thousands) of beds in search of new territory. Josué, a condomnaut of significant skill, hopes to achieve legendary status by discovering and claiming an unoccupied planet for humanity in the name of the Catalan settlement. Yoss dramatizes familiar national tensions on an astronomical scale by organizing human communities into recognizable units (the “European Union,” for example, or the German colony of “Neue Heimat”), each of which has its own agenda. As we learn more about Josué and what drew him to the condomnaut career, we learn how not every colony has mankind’s best interests at heart.
Yoss’ novel is funny, visceral, political, and filled with “pleasure, pleasure pleasure. Wet, splashing pleasure.” Condomnauts is everything a good space opera should be—far-reaching, glimmering, gut-wrenching, perilous—but stickier. Much, much stickier.
—Review by J. Bailey Hutchinson