Max and his alien husband ‘Rick’ have settled into a domestic life aboard Rick's space ship. Max does most of the work raising the three children he bore for Rick. Rick's species usually doesn't get involved much with child rearing, but Max wants to be involved, and all three offspring seem to be the better for it. They've been spending their time in the sparsely populated region of space not far from Earth, but as the story opens their supplies are running low, so it's time to return to the more populated areas to try and sell something that will give them enough credit to restock their ship. That's a little more difficult than it sounds, since Rick's species are treated as outcasts for the way they look and their penchant for staying “hidden”. It's a system that makes Max's blood boil, but then again humans have been classified as morons in the official records.
This unexpected sequel to the delightful Earth Fathers are Weird picks up right where the original story left off, with Max staying with Rick and taking responsibility for raising the three offspring, as well as keeping them all safe. If you haven't read the original book, you'll definitely need to pick it up before tackling this story.
There's a lot to unpack in this book, which in many ways is very different from the first. We learn a bit more about Rick's people and why they're looked down on by the other alien species. The more Max learns, the angrier he gets at the way the universe treats his family. There's a none-too-subtle message here about treating people differently just because of their outward appearance.
It's not just racism that comes under scrutiny in this book. There are also some thought-provoking scenes about gender identity. If all this sounds like this is a serious story, don't worry. Everything comes about quite naturally as part of the story line. It's a great demonstration of the power of science fiction: that it can tackle tough subjects without lecturing or sounding artificial. It allows the author to ask very simple, almost childlike questions, such as “What defines a female?” That may sound like an easy question, but as some of the conversations Max has prove, it's not as clear as you might think at first.
The book is a lot less serious than I'm probably making it sound. Most of the scenes involve quite a bit of humor, softening up the tough subjects. There are also quite a few scenes of Max and Rick being intimate. On the whole, the heat level of this volume is quite a bit higher than the first book. It's quite a ride, and unlike the starting story which seemed complete as-is, I can definitely see room for a sequel or two.
“Earth Husbands are Odd” is available from Amazon.