Reviews Logo
SearchHomeContents PageSite Map
Commitment Hour
James Alan Gardner
Avon/EOS, 352 pages

Commitment Hour
James Alan Gardner
James Alan Gardner's first novel, Expendable, was published in 1997. A Canadian Canadian Author author, James Alan Gardner has honed his skills publishing short works in Amazing, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, On-Spec, and the Tesseracts anthologies. He has won numerous writing awards, including Grand Prize winner of the Writers of the Future Award (1989) as well as an Aurora Award for best short story (1990). His latest accolade is a 1997 Nebula nomination.

James Alan Gardner Website
ISFDB Bibliography
Excerpt from Commitment Hour
Excerpt from Expendable
SF Site Review: Expendable

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Wayne MacLaurin

Last year, James Alan Gardner's first novel, Expendable, received critical acclaim for its depth of characterization and riveting view of the future. Not content to simply rehash traditional science-fiction, Gardner chose to examine the darker side of humanity and focused on the plight of the Explorer Corps, Expendable Crew Members.

In Commitment Hour, Gardner once again delves into the darker side of humanity. This time, he chooses the idyllic, simple village of Tober Cove as the setting for his tale. It's the 25th century and Earth has long since been abandoned by both its population and its technology. Life is simple for the remaining inhabitants. They are fishermen, hunters, and the like. Technology more advanced than a spear is the stuff of legends and old rusting ruins.

But, this village is unique. At the age of twenty, everyone must make a choice, a Commitment. What is this monumental choice? Nothing less than what sex to spend the rest of their life as. Ok... That got my attention. The story rapidly unfolds (page two, for those who may think I'm giving away key parts of the plot) and we are introduced to a society where, for the first twenty years of their life, everyone switches sex each summer. Every individual experiences all the emotions, problems and difficulties of both sexes as they grow up and, eventually, choose which sex they prefer to be.

We are introduced to the central character, Fullin, on the eve of his (the character is currently male) Commitment. Things start to happen fast and furious as Fullin, and others, are drawn into a web of controversy when an outsider visits the village.

Gardner explores the social stigma we attach to choice, while the mystery of Tober Cove is revealed. Personally, I found the mystery to be more interesting than the social commentary, but Commitment Hour has plenty for everybody and great second showing for a promising Canadian author.

Copyright © 1998 by Wayne MacLaurin

Wayne MacLaurin is a regular SF Site reviewer. More of his opinions are available on our Book Reviews pages.

SearchContents PageSite MapContact UsCopyright

If you find any errors, typos or other stuff worth mentioning, please send it to
Copyright © 1996-2014 SF Site All Rights Reserved Worldwide