From Publishers Weekly
Nebula Award nominee Gardner (Expendable) gives a less-than-stellar performance with this silly look at the future of sex roles. In the 25th century, teenage Fullin, along with his lover, Cappie, and the other villagers of Tober Cove, enjoy the right of selecting what gender they will be for their adult lives: the "Commitment Hour" of the title, is the night when the two must make the big decision. Although Gardner lacks the finesse of Le Guin's anthropological SF, he packs his story with intriguing characters and numerous plot twists to compensate. But a visiting anthropologist, a murder, even the discovery that Fullin's mother is a hermaphrodite, do not add up to a compelling or complete novel. A convoluted climax, in which Fullin discovers the real origin of Cove's society, is just too expository and messy to supply any satisfying emotional payoff or meaningful message about gender and society.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Fullin is a young musician nearing his twentieth birthday, when all Tubor Cove youngsters must decide their sex, even if they are plainly male, female, or a despised "Neut." If a male decides he is to be female, then at "commitment hour," he disappears into a sort of incubator known as "Bird House" and, in due course, his female half emerges. It is a deeply religious moment, and the citizens of Tubor Cove have formed a kind of New Age cult around it. Commitment hour didn't originally have anything to do with religion, however, and after an outcast discovers the secret and turns murderous, Fullin and Tubor Cove have to make some basic changes. Rather a thin concept to support an entire novel, though Fullin is appealing. John Mort