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From the Comfort of their Favorite Armchair
  August 17, 2001

Today's Featured Author - Sara Barndt

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   by: Lisa Elizabeth

Sara Barndt's first story is titled 'Generic Brand Hero'. The story of a skinny white boy named Jim, who wants to improve his physique through science. By buying look-alike DNA, he feels he can become the man of his dreams. We learn that filling out paper work while drunk is not the smartest thing one can do! His mistake causes the company to send him the DNA of a Queen Latifa look alike. This is quite a change! From white middle class male to Large Black Female. She has a love interest in Carl, who likes his ladies large and encourages her to keep getting bigger. In the end though everything turns out, as you would expect.

Sara's second story is titled "Femcorps". This is a work in progress. In the future, there is an inequality of the number of males to females. Femcorps is started to help correct this. By doing a DNA change any male can become the female he could have been. With genetic manipulation, she then is contracted to have three daughters. This is the story of Mike who decides to become Melinda and live life as a woman, lover and mother. The story goes through the transformation of Mike and all that he must contend with. It is currently getting to a big family showdown with the 'Cruella Deville' former sister-in-law. I am waiting for the next episode.

What I found different about Sara's writing, from a reviewer’s standpoint, is the slowness of the transformations. I am so used to the 'went to bed fine, woke up female' style of story that I had to re-evaluate my own thoughts. 'Generic Brand Hero' had many parts missing. How did he take the DNA? The characters are not as well developed as in 'Femcorps'. In my own opinion, Sara has taken more time and has told a better story with 'Femcorps'. I normally do not read this genre of stories. It is nice to see the difference in the two stories and to find that the second is a better told story. I believe that Sara is on the right track and will develop a large following for her work.

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       by: Sydney Michelle

Sarah has twenty story segments to her credit, in two serials and three self-contained works. Except for "Princess Hope," the works use a science fiction theme to facilitate changes from male to female. Two, "Generic Brand Hero" and "Fem Corps" use DNA manipulation as the device, the first accidental, the other intentional. The "Snuggle Bunny" stories use an alternate universe portal. Even in "Princess Hope," the magic is more of potions than spells or totems, thereby having a science fiction feel.

There are several consistencies in Sarah’s works. The stories pay more attention to the transformation process than typical TG fiction with a focus on result. Sarah’s heroines make the description Reubenesque sound miserly. Huge breasts and prodigious milk production are inevitable features, along with the requisite pregnancy and birthing. Sarah’s writing is consistently literate, although too often a bit too self-conscious. Since a woman's function is to give birth, the female characters, by birth or transformation, tend to be vapid, hormone driven, sex maniacs. Sarah’s female character are not going to win plaudits from even traditional generic females.

Most of Sarah’s leads are bumbling incompetents as males. They have no big urge to become female, nor do they seem to be terribly bothered by the prospect. The repeated theme is if the hero is a flop as a male, they can at least be a success as a female. Especially a female with an imagined fifties mindset. If you can recall Carol Burnett’s bumbling secretary crossed with Hollywood’s Jane Mansfield dumb blonde, you’ve got the idea.

In "Generic Brand Hero," the boob is supposed to undergo a cultural change. The cultural change is really to fat rather than black. True cultural change stories are extremely difficult. Few of us know more than one culture in sufficient sympathetic detail to do it well. "Generic Female" has interest for becoming used to being a heavy female, but being black has no effect other than on cuisine.

"Fem Corps" is Sarah’s most ambitious work, with several subplots helping fill the time between the transition and birth. There are many imaginative twists, so many that the feeling grows that Sarah’s self-assigned task between parts was to come up with a new twist, much as in the old Saturday serials. With changing friends, relationship twists, and a female just this side of Cruella deVille, it describes quite nicely as a pot boiler. The heroine’s emotional changes are apparently of the magic wand variety, as in all a good woman needs is a good man. Uh-huh. Sudden shifts in relationships and authority levels just breeze along, not unnoted, but resolved quicker than you can say, "Cut to a commercial!" This story received many positive comments, the twists definitely kept up interest from post to post.

"Snuggle Bunny" contains several logic problems, severe enough to cause that figurative head snap. Once again characters who would have to struggle to be called pathetic are to have their lives remade. The best laid plans aft agang aglay and this set hasn’t time for best laid. Unfortunately, neither does the author, sliding off into cackling hens and other non-human results.

Sarah liked "Snuggle Bunny" so much, she couldn’t resist a sequel. It’s more focused, with a stronger premise for a long transition process. By dropping the alternate reality back to the fifties, it is not effectively used to explore differences between male and female. Not that there aren’t attempts, but women are still posited to be brainless, so there’s little to explore beyond physical side effects.

Sarah’s last effort, "Princess Hope" tries a different tact, at least superficially. Instead of the fifties we have feudal times. Instead of Sci-fi, we have magic. Instead of a hapless hero, we have a studly male, threatened with doom to others to consent to being transformed. What we still have is a shrinking form with huge breasts, a hormonally diminished capacity, and milk production that would displace whole herds of Guernsey dairy cows.

Sarah’s writing shows flashes of wit and intelligence, laden with plot twists. Unfortunately interfering with a good read, Sarah is rather too taken with her own efforts, shown in part by intrusive author comments. There is a substantial difference of effect between an author as narrator or as hero and narrator commenting on the action, and an author trying to do a Woody Allen insert. It’s annoying enough when Woody does it. It only really works in a few Looney Tunes cartoons where viewers are not asked to suspend disbelief. Compound this with a repeated disdain for women other than as wombs, and I wonder why Sarah writes in this genre. Undeniably there is talent, but I doubt this is the outlet for it.

Editor - Heather Sinclair

 

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