I'm trying to identify a book I read somewhere in the 90s. It was a far future story with spaceships, interstellar travel, a rebellion and similar generic sci-fi elements.

What made it somewhat unique was the use of partial or full sex changes during the course of events. People were sex-changed as a punishment or to control them. One guy's male genitalia were replaced with female parts to – if I remember correctly – punish him for some failure. Another guy, a kind of leader for some kind of rebel group, was turned into a woman with low IQ to keep him from continuing his rebel activity.

Sadly, I don't remember much else - it's only the weird (and probably quite sexist) stuff that stuck to my head.

The story is, I assume, from the 80s or early 90s.

I put some further thought into the publication date, and I'd focus on late 1980's to 1995 by now.

The book was from a public library, and they seem to have put mostly pretty current stuff on their shelves, such as A Song of Ice and Fire, When Gravity Fails and so on. Some older classics like Asimov and Lem, but the majority apparently was newer.

Common sense would say that it was something pretty popular or well-known, as most of the stuff I remember from that shelf is seen as a classic now. But I just cannot find that one now.

One younger guy was kind of a soldier or lieutenant in what I remember as the rebel organization. He was a point of view character iirc. He got captured by the enemy or messed up something, and as a punishment (again: probably sexist to current standards) was turned into a female waist-down. He hid that from others, but had trouble riding a horse with his changed body for whatever reason.

Another older guy was the organization's leader, guru or something similar. He was known to be a smart, sly tactician, hard to catch, never giving up - a kind of old fox stereotype. He was captured by the enemy (that seems to a common theme) and turned into a full-fledged woman, or what stereotypical parody the author thought women are. He was dumbed down on purpose and given an unnatural appetite for sexual intercourse, both to make him unable to continue his war effort. He did conquer those problems, however, and somehow contributed to the rebellion later on.

That does sound vaguely similar to Medusa: A Tiger by the Tail from Jack L. Chalker, but I don't think it was that book, judging from the plot summary on Wikipedia.

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    As is somewhat standard when discussing books involving body transformations, something by Jack L. Chalker would seem likely. Most of his work is multi-book series - could this book have been part of a series? – RDFozz Nov 5 '18 at 2:50
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    Were women forced to change to men? – Z. Cochrane Nov 5 '18 at 12:05
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    Hi and thanks for the answers! Jack L. Chalker... skimmed the publication list, but nothing seems to fit. His stuff seems even weirder (though less sexist) than what I read back then. I don't remember any female-to-male-transformations. Cannot rule that out, but I'd say no. That's one of the elements that seems so weird (and plainly sexist) to me today. – Stuck in my head Nov 5 '18 at 19:10
  • You need to check out the Songs of Fire and Ice and Soul Rider series. Both have forced sex change (one female to male, IIRC), as well as a sort of species change.I also think one of the Well World books also had a female to male sex change, but it's been along time since I read those. – NothingToSeeHere Nov 5 '18 at 20:00
  • @Ring - The Well World did have a lot of Gender Swapping (Juan Campos, a male gangster, was turned into a 'Sexy Daisy Duck', as I recall. Two of the 'heroic' side also both swapped and became a couple.) But I don't remember gender swap being used as part of torture.. partially because it wasn't easy -- the basic changes were done by the well, and the ones done by surgeons included neutering and other things, but not gender swap, as I recall. As you mention, the Soul Rider series, on the other hand.... – K-H-W Nov 5 '18 at 20:03

This is a long shot but could it have been the book Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan? (The tv series changed many of the book's controversial elements. ) In one of the more disturbing scenes, the male protagonist is "resleeved" into a female body and graphically tortured. The book makes it far more clear than the tv show that the protagonist is a rebel.

  • Hi and thanks for the answer! No, it wasn't altered carbon. The person's actual body was changed via surgery. – Stuck in my head Nov 5 '18 at 19:08
  • Another shot in the dark but did a character go from male to female with a prehensile tail? That happened in Justin Leiber's Beyond Rejection (1980). – Mgmills1968 Nov 6 '18 at 22:53

The part about being changed as punishment, and riding a horse later (and commenting as to how it was easier with female private parts), sounds a bit like some events that happened in Spirits of Flux and Anchor by Jack Chalker. The character that this happened to was named Dar.

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