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Beyond Rejection  (Beyond, volume 1)

By Justin Leiber 

24 Mar, 2024

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You


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1980’s Beyond Rejection is the first volume in Justin Leiber’s Beyond trilogy.

Had Ismael Forth perished in the barbaric 20th century, no doubt he would have remained entirely dead. Thanks to 22nd century mind-recording technology, he has a chance to live again…

But only a chance.

Spoilers may abound. The book is long out of print and the author is dead. I don’t think anyone should mind.

Ismael is a mind on tape. Sally Cadmus’ remains are a brain-dead living body, thanks to a malfunction while she was in cold sleep. Two problems with one solution: write Ismael’s mind into Sally’s body. Result: a body with a mind.

Integrating boy mind with lady body could be a challenge. Luckily for Ismael (now using the name Patricia), escape from therapy looms in the form of a police case. Candy Darling, an eighty-year-old in a tween’s body1, thinks there’s something fishy about Ismael’s death. Candy wants Patricia to help her investigate.

Ismael supposedly died on the resort planet Rim. Since Ismael hated space travel, it’s highly unlikely he’d have accepted an unexpected gift of a resort trip. In Candy’s experienced opinion, it’s more likely that hunky Ismael was a body-snatch victim, kidnapped and mind-wiped to make room for some elderly rich person’s mind.

Patricia has no applicable skills and is still getting used to her new body. Nevertheless, Candy takes Patricia on a journey through horniness-inducing wormholes, to Rim, where well-prepared criminals wait. Well-prepared, homicidal, and well-armed criminals.

Patricia may have been reborn only to be lasered to death or worse.


Clarification: if I say Leiber, I mean Justin Leiber. If I mention his father, I will use Fritz Leiber, Jr.’s given name, Fritz.

There seems to be a disturbing amount of gender essentialism in this book: if you have lady-bits, you either end up with lady-brains, even if the mind started off male, or you go mad and die. This might be because Leiber wanted to raise the stakes in a story about adjusting to a new and very different body (likely also why there are no made-to-order clones). I’d slap a It Was Another Time” sticker on this, but heck, Varley managed similar themes about gender change more gracefully2 in stories published about the same time. Of course, Varley’s characters didn’t have alterations forced on them.

A note for people inexplicably looking for a copy of this online. Amazon, at least, really wants Justin Leiber to be Justin Beiber. As one might guess from the fact the novel was published fourteen years before Beiber was born, this was not written by an extremely precocious Canadian. Rather, it was written by the son of famed SF author Fritz Leiber.

Good news for everyone not descended from an award-winning author. Writing talent isn’t a genetically conferred trait, so don’t let not being the descendant of a big-name author deter you from trying your hand at writing. Bad news for the readers of this book, because wow, was Beyond Rejection comprehensively awful.

If you dislike clumsy infodumping, this is not the book for you. It takes about thirty pages for the plot to get off the ground. Before that, people explain to each other aspects of 22nd life with which they should be familiar. As you know, Bob, that was a popular means of inclueing readers back when America was lit by guttering spermaceti candles.

The mid-therapy swerve into James Bond plotting is ludicrous. Presumably readers are supposed to worry that the characters will die for real, but it becomes increasingly clear that no matter how sick or injured people are, they will never quite die3. There is an eventual explanation that does deal with how absurd it would be to drag a revivified patient off to the planet of organized crime, but it’s a cliché even hoarier than As You Know, Bob: [rot 13 for spoiler] Vg’f nyy n qernz.

Skillful prose or enchanting characters could make up for the above. Alas, the novel disappoints on both counts.

My views don’t seem to be universal. Not only did this come in 4th in the Locus poll for best new novel, but reviewers Greg Costikyan and Thomas A. Easton liked it. Leiber followed Beyond Rejection up with two more books in this series, as well as unrelated spec fic. Oh, well. No accounting for taste.

The book has one [4] strength: it’s short. Oh, well. It’s not the worst novel by the son of a famous author I’ve read.

Beyond Rejection is out of print.

1: Exceptional accidents like Sally’s aside, most blanks are suicides. Best not to wonder how Candy got her tween body or the ones that preceded it. Or why the British edition of this book put a nude Candy on the cover.

2: Judging by how my Young People reacted to Options, Varley’s take on gender change is not entirely to modern taste.

3: Except for that one minor character who gets laser-cannoned to death to establish that characters can die.

4: Two strengths, if you like naked-ladies-in-tubes cover art. The Del Rey cover is certainly an example of that.