Nicola Griffith’s story treats gender and sexual behavior in an intelligent manner. It is stylishly written, moves well, and has a good resolution. Unfortunately, I didn’t believe it for a moment. The internal logic of the story demands that the main character, Cody, would allow herself to be the subject of experimental modification of her personality and behavior in order to sign a client. I didn’t buy it. There is nothing to suggest that Cody is reckless. This problem is doubled by the fact that another woman has to be brought into the scheme and convinced to undergo the same experimental personality modification. Even more damaging to the logic of the story, Cody and her friend Richard, both believe they know exactly what the client’s reaction will be when Cody displays the behavior she is programmed to perform. I didn’t buy that either. Real people (as opposed to abstract characters used to advance the plot) behave in unexpected ways. Even if the client has a fantasy about witnessing a public display of sexuality, when his fantasy becomes reality his reaction could be strongly negative. A very interesting story where the internal logic didn't hold up.
"It Takes Two" by Nicola Griffith originally appeared in Eclipse Three (Night Shade Books, 2009) edited by Jonathan Strahan.