The Sex Gates
by Darrell Bain and Jeanine Berry
"Boy meets girl" takes on new meaning in Darrell Bain and Jeanine Berry's The Sex Gates.
A group of four college chums, three male and one female, gain sexual balance and lose their equilibrium when one of the guys passes through a glowing arch that appears in front of them. And becomes a gal... and what a gal! Don was Lee's best friend, but having his buddy become a buxom brunette complicates matters. Lee refuses to believe it's happened at first. Then he refuses to accept it. His girlfriend, Rita, is mostly okay with it and even Don comes around to accepting his being Donna sooner than Lee does.
But eventually, Lee gives in... so to speak.
Don was one of the first, but hardly the last to pass through the Sex Gates. The gates appeared all over the world at the same time. Men become women and women, men. Some countries ban the gates and persecute those who have changed. New religions rise and old ones teeter. The gates are the long-sought Fountain of Youth; they turn everyone who passes through into a post-pubescent member of the opposite sex--except not everyone can pass through. Some people enter and don't emerge, generally people any society would be better off without. And, as a side effect, the gates cure illness.
And then the plot gets complicated.
The story follows the four friends through their various and sundry changes, as the gates change the world. Professor Higgins' "what if a woman... were more like a man..." becomes a reality... and vice versa. Men and women finally understand each other, at any rate understand each other as well as they understand themselves. No one understands the gates, however, but some begin to... and just might in a sequel.
The Sex Gates reads like the novel Heinlein should have written after Stranger in a Strange Land. The book has both Heinlein's no nonsense prose and his no nonsense social conscience. The central characters are the best of America, and along the way meet and survive much of the worst. They're fallible, but their humanity shines through. Plain and simple, The Sex Gates is a great book, one of the best science fiction offerings in years.