Facts I remember:

First book:

  • The main character wakes up on a ship on the outer edges of the galaxy as a woman.
  • Has been resurrected from DNA, believes they have made a mistake as the only thing he remembers is being a man. They begin a process to change the sex of the main character, which takes a good portion of the book to complete IIRC.
  • The main character is an infamous character from the past, believed dead. They wonder if anyone realizes he has been resurrected.
  • Enemies from the past attempt to kill the main character and is the main conflict within the first book.

Second book:

  • Some time has passed since the first book, maybe a couple of centuries.
  • The main character has become a leader\emperor of a large section of the galaxy.
  • The books main conflict revolves around the main character suppressing rebellions and increasing the borders of his domain, ultimately he is betrayed by an ally.

Third book:

  • The main character remembers more of their past and that they were born a woman.
  • Returns to being a woman in this book.

Many of these facts could be misremembered, however, the woman to man back to woman swap is a major plot point of the trilogy.

Edit: A couple of things I forgot to mention. I believe there were pretty substantial time lapses between each book. There were relativistic effects of travel between star systems, as in different subjective time passed for characters. I cannot remember if there were any aliens or alien technology in these books.

  • This sounds like it could have been a work of John Varley (as sex changes show up not infrequently in his work), however while there are some common themes, nothing of his work seems to match up with all of them. – n_b Feb 27 '18 at 3:24
  • I'm certain I've read this -- at least the first book. My (very vague) memories say "Alastair Reynolds", but I think I have all his books (all his full-length novels, anyway, not all the small press stuff) and there are no trilogies there which match. – Mark Olson Feb 27 '18 at 3:40
  • Jack Chalker sure liked to play around with sex changes and other disconcerting physical transformations for some of his characters (the "Soul Rider" and "The Four Lords of the Diamond" books spring to mind), but I don't recall anything he did which fit this description. Granted, he wrote several other things, some of which I've never bothered to read . . .. – Lorendiac Feb 27 '18 at 3:54
  • Thanks, n_b, Mark Olson and Lorendiac. I may have to read some of these authors, but after looking through their work on Goodreads I can't find anything that seems to fit. – DafyddNZ Feb 27 '18 at 4:32
  • Reasonably certain it's not Varley. To my knowledge he's only written one trillogy (Titan, Wizard and Demon), and those definitely aren't the books mentioned here. – Christi Feb 27 '18 at 7:27

It looks like Saturn Returns (Book 1 of Astropolis) by Sean Williams.

It's been a while since I read them but the re-constructed from DNA, gender change and long war part match.

The only thing that doesn't ring true is that that the gender thing is only a minor part of the plot/themes. This is space-opera spanning millions (eventually billions) of years with different variants of human immortality and a long war against hidden (non-human) enemies who seem to knock humanity back whenever they reach a certain level of advancement.

  • Pretty sure this is it, I seem to remember the gender thing differently to you though. I remember it playing an important part of the main characters motivations and a reason why some of the things happened the way they did. I will have to reread this. – DafyddNZ Feb 27 '18 at 11:45
  • One point that might confirm it is that the name Imre is a sort of in joke. There were different incarnations, one of which was Imre-F which was an anagram of Fermi, as in Fermi Paradox. – AlanT Feb 27 '18 at 11:50

This might be the "Beyond" trilogy by Justin Leiber (son of SF/Fantasy author Fritz Leiber).

The main character of the first novel (Beyond Rejection), Ismael Forth was born male, but wakes up in the far reaches of the Solar System in a woman's body -- with a prehensile tail! Later, he meets a person, a "nympher" who makes a habit of switching into pre-teen bodies and growing up through puberty, again and again, an activity that would result in most people "rejecting", their minds dying and taking the new transplant body with it.

I haven't read the second book, Beyond Humanity, but from the cover blurb I gather it follows the donor of the body Ismael Forth wound up in, who woke up in Ismael's old, male body.

I know next to nothing about the third novel, Beyond Gravity, other than that it reportedly wraps up the myriad loose ends left by the first two.

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