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Commitment Hour Mass Market Paperback


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Eos (April 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0380798271
  • ISBN-13: 978-0380798278
  • Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 4.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,644,999 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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.

From Booklist

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

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 20, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I think some of the other reviewers have missed the purpose of this book. For me, it was a very powerful statement about how our modern society shapes the relationships between men and women.
It is not, however, a ripping yarn. The plot develops gradually, Gardner spending a lot of time developing the characters and setting out the relationships between the characters. He does this really well. (Okay, so Lord Rashid of Spark is a bit weak.) The storyline does, however, gradually gather pace and it literally rips through the last 50 pages or so. Further, while the reader can see a lot of what is coming, Gardner keeps adding little twists and turns, and saves one big twist for the end.
Good stuff!!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A. Lee on August 20, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I've enjoyed other books by this author, so I picked this one up. He's taking on an unusual theme--the nature of male vs female, with a religious/ritualistic culture in the background, by way of discussing superstition and faith. Lots of loaded issues. So you know, this means it could be really, really good, or totally take a dive. I'm afraid that I think the latter happened. The main characer is sympathetic enough, and it's interesting to explore his/her male and female sides. The author manages to avoid horrendous stereotypes, while keeping male and female traits recognizable, which is a coup. But I did keep having flash-backs to the '60s and all the feminist rhetoric flying about then (I AM a feminist--just don't want to hear about it day-in, day-out, thank you). Still, that was OK. The culture and the world had enough details to be convincing, but it was still extememely weird. This can be a good thing. Here, it was... OK, but the oddness seemed to spin out of control towards the denouement. It just became so bizarre that I lost my suspension of disbelief.
If you are interested in unusual themes and strange customs and cultures, and even weirder twists at endings, then by all means try this book. Sadly, I can't recommend it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By "viper726" on February 11, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The story is really simple and limited, but Gardner still makes it interesting, and there is some action. It's not bad if you like his other books, but it's a little slower and not as carefree and fun. His other 3 books are better than this one. It takes place in the same future, but has different characters and is more limited in scope.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By daidhaid on July 2, 1998
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Sorry to rain on the parade of praise but this book was a real dissapointment for me. I just never shook off the question why am I continuing to read this. Yawn sigh... First: The hero/heroine, is a violin player with a tendency to involvement in tangled emotional relationships and assorted odd situations of a Tabloid nature. Second: His girl/boy friend is poorly sketched. Their love/hate thing is on and off so much I never figured out what was supposed to be goin' on. There is some sort of sex but well I couldn't really visualize it or anything else for that matter. Third: His hermaphrodite Mom was a bit hard to swallow. The description of his Mom as a dual sexed person just made me wonder if the author had any uh well uh difficulties. My heart goes out to him. anyway... Fifth: Really the whole thing is pointless unless you like to daydream about getting to change sex every year untill you are age 20. Then choose which sex you liked best.
The actual plot is not easy to review without spoiling the suspense and if you read the book you will need the suspense to see you thru
Gee and I never even got to the ridiculous Spark Lord Defender of the World, and his All purpose Magic Suit of Green Plastic Armor. Ahh well some parts had potential I just happened to feel that overall it was a waste of time and money...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 28, 1998
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I really enjoyed this book. It sucked me in and kept me guessing up until the end. I found the idea of gender-switching humans to be quite original, at least from my own reading history. :-) The concept of gender, and the ideas we traditionally associate with it, has always fascinated me. One thing I like about this book is that it doesn't shy away from the fact that we DO tend to categorize and compartmentalize people according to sex.
It was nice to see that even in their male personas, the people of Tober Cove were very caring and loving toward their children, effectively dispelling the myth that only women can be nurturing.
The book also touches on belief systems and how strongly people will hold onto their ideas even when faced with contradictory evidence, but the main character also seems to realize that faith really has a life of its own, a purpose, independent of "proof" either for or against.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Maggie the Lizard Tamer on October 22, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is James Alan Gardner's early work - unlike his Expendable series, it does not feature Festina Ramos, however, the League of Peoples is briefly mentioned.

The basic plot for this novel is that Earth around the 24th-25th century faces a catastrophe (overpopulation, disease, etc.) and the League of Peoples offers Earthlings a way out - those who so want can leave the planet and live among aliens learning their technology and cultural standpoints. Not everyone leaves and those who stay are left without the support of a developed civilization and the world ends up resembling that of the Middle Ages with a history (and therefore artifacts) of modern and futuristic science. At some point, those who left the Earth decide to come back and conduct social experiments using extremely advanced technology.

One of these experients is a little village whose inhabitants change gender every year up until they are 20, when having experienced being both a man and a woman during their lifetime, they decide to become one permanently. The twist is that in addition to become male or female, one can choose to become a Neut - a person of both genders. Thankfully though, even though the plot revolves around changing genders, the emphasis of the novel is more on great technology, a society that has leaped quickly forward and then rapidly backwards, and the politics of people in such a situation. The main character is very believable and his (her?) adventures make for a page-turner.

The atmosphere of this novel was similar to that of Trapped - it even features the Spark Lords.
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