Halfway Human

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Halfway Human
Author Carolyn Ives Gilman
Cover artist J.K. Potter
Country United States
Language English
Genre Science fiction novel
Publisher Avon Books
Publication date
Media type Print (paperback)
ISBN 0-380-79799-2
OCLC 38198333

Halfway Human (1998) is a science fiction novel written by Carolyn Ives Gilman. It was nominated for the 1998 Tiptree Award, and placed second on the Locus Readers Poll for Best First Novel in 1999.[1]

The novel follows the life of Tedla, an asexual being from an evolutionary offshoot of humanity. It is neither male nor female and refers to itself as a “bland.” On its home planet blands are kept at a near-slave class, considered to be not human and much less important than either male or female. Blands are mentally, physically and sexually abused by their human masters, normally called guardians.

Tedla is found by a social worker named Val Endrada on the planet Capella light-years away from its home planet of Gammadis just after trying to commit suicide. The existence of the bland off-planet sets into motion a political confrontation between the powers on both planets.


The work was generally praised by critics at the time of publication and has since been called "groundbreaking."[2] Fellow writer Lisa DuMond reviewed the book in 1998, and suggested that it would likely be included on the Hugo and Nebula ballots for that year.[3]


Gender and Sexuality[edit]

Patricia Wheeler compares Gilman's treatment of gender and sexuality, and particularly her attempt to create a character that exhibits neither male nor female characteristics, to Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula LeGuin. Wheeler mentions that many criticized LeGuin for ultimately failing to create characters that did not exhibit gendered traits, and suggests that this failure could possibly be evident in Halfway Human as well, depending on how the reader chooses to imagine Tedla. Wheeler wonders "Is it possible to see it [Tedla] as completely without gender attributes?" Wheeler remarks on Gilman's use of the juxtaposition of Capellan and Gammadian societies in her story as a way to examine how gender is treated in our society.[4]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Science Fiction database, author page
  2. ^ "Two Views on Dark Orbit by Carolyn Ives Gilman" by Sandra Lindow and Michael Levy, The New York Review of Science Fiction, November 2015.
  3. ^ DuMond, Lisa. "A Review". SF Site. Retrieved 23 October 2016. 
  4. ^ Wheeler, Patricia (2013). Hubble, Nick, ed. The Science Fiction Handbook, Issues of Gender, Sexuality, and Ethnicity. Bloomsbury Academic. pp. 209–237. Retrieved 23 October 2016.