Iothera

A comic by rincewitch

When I first started Yes Homo, I had vague ideas about keeping it kid-friendly, the sort of thing a guidance counsellor or gay aunt could recommend to a kid. That’s pretty obviously out the window at this point, given that a quick look at my reading list turns up nine links marked “nsfw”, some of which are literally pornography. I’ll defend my inclusion of these to anyone, though, because works of an explicitly sexual nature need good queer and trans representation too. I do still want to keep Yes Homo work-safe though, so you won’t find any nudity under the cut.

Iothera is a science fantasy. The story of Cassandra Navarathna is set on a world of magic – but not a familiar medieval-inspired one. Instead, the humans, elves, goblins, etc. of Iothera have used science to harness magic, achieving a level of technology that surpasses our own and allowing them to colonize the planet’s moons and, hopefully, soon the stars.

She does tend to wax poetic about... everything.
She does tend to wax poetic about… everything.

Cassandra is a grad student studying the artifacts of the ancient Seb civilization, which had also colonized the moons before mysteriously vanishing eons ago. Given that a large part of the population of Iothera is immortal elves, the fact that no one knows what happened to the Seb is pretty remarkable!

Takako, on the other hand, just waxes hilariously vulgar.
Takako, on the other hand, just waxes hilariously vulgar.

Her roommate Takako is an astrophysicist working on Tenma-3, a contender in the latest front of the space race – manned faster-than-light travel. She’s like 400 years old or something, but still dresses like she’s a 14 year old scene kid.

When Cassandra gets a job offer to work on a competing FTL project – the Kestrel Project, which is on the moon! – it raises some questions as to the true nature of the space race. What exactly is afoot on Luna Minor? More importantly, will moving to the moon negatively impact Cassandra’s sex life?

My "wait what. oh. OH" moment
My “wait what. oh. OH” moment

And what a sex life it is. Something like half the pages of the comic are dedicated to her and her girlfriend Maureen in various states of undress, and this would be all well and good except for something that makes it all well and great – Cassandra is trans!

There’s not a lot of media out there that portrays trans women and other male-assigned trans people in ways that are respectful of our sexuality; either we’re sexless and unlovable, fetishized sex objects, or villains out to trick straight men into being gay. So I’m not ashamed to admit that when I read the first scene of Cassandra and Maureen having sex, I teared up a bit.

Is Iothera porn? Maybe. Kinda. But if it is, it’s porn for trans people, a tiny niche in between horrible girls-with-dicks porn genres like “futanari” and “shemales” which are clearly made for cis people. And for that I am thankful. Cassandra has a dick, yes, but it’s not a big deal, Maureen isn’t a chaser or fetishist, the panels never do a weird closeup or dramatic reveal of her genitalia. Which, having typed it all out like that, seems like a pretty pathetically low bar to set, but whatever.

Some of my favorite bits are when Takako has these offhand comments reminding you how old she is.
Some of my favorite bits are when Takako has these offhand comments reminding you how old she is.

The important thing is that it’s respectful and relatable. And that the setting is a cool mix between immersive fantasy and hard sci-fi. In fact, the worldbuilding is pretty great, although many of the countries and languages are direct parallels to real-world equivalents (“Kyokan” is Japan, “Marish” is English, “Tanian” is Latin, etc.), which can be a handy shortcut to understanding the setting or a distracting bubble-breaker, depending on your perspective. I go back and forth.

Ok great you're going to the moon. But like, when.
Ok great you’re going to the moon. But like, when.

If I’m not fully satisfied with Iothera, it’s because it’s slow. Perhaps it’s slow by necessity – you can cram as many sex scenes as possible into a story, or you can advance the plot, but it’s difficult to do both at the same time. And I’d never ask rincewitch to cut down on the sex, but I do badly want to know what awaits our hero on Luna Minor and what the mystery of Robert Cross, the Kestrel Project, and the Capteyn sequence is!

Final verdict: If you want to read about a cool alternate Earth if magic informed all our technology, read this. On the other hand, if you want to see a cute trans girl have a lot of sex with her girlfriend, definitely read this. But not at work.

One comment on “Iothera

  1. love this review. As a trans gal I have spent AGES searching for webcomics which were inclusive and fun to read. And there’s a lot of times I’ve settled for something less, but I’ve gotta say that Iothera had me reading the whole available pages back to back.

    Keep up the good work writing and critiquing! xoxo

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