Guest Post from Len Barry: Themes Hidden and Visible

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Today, as part of the Literary+ Initiative, I’m hosting Len Barry on his blog tour in honor of the release of his book, Vitamin F! Be sure to check out the links for the book at the end of the post.

About the Literary+ Initiative: Literary+ is a writer based project brought together and lead by Shen Hart. It brings together passionate, quality self-published writers to help each other promote their work, bringing more readers to every member. It was sparked by the simple fact that there are many top quality self-published authors being over-looked because they do not have the time and resources to efficiently and effectively market and promote themselves. With ambition and passion, Literary+ will take its members to the heights they deserve through a tight-knit community of like-minded writers.

Next week, back to your regularly scheduled Katje.

Themes Hidden and Visible

Years ago, I was talking with a close friend about the ideas that writers put themes in their writing. My friend said that there are themes in every piece of writing, even if the author wasn’t consciously aware of them.

Luckily, I figured out the themes of Vitamin F some time ago. The major elements are the social forces that drove me to come up with the story in the first place.

The first of these elements is Acceptance.

Bridgett Grey is a petite young woman who is somewhat timid. She’s smart, but has no aspirations toward anything beyond music history and maybe, some day, going out with a beautiful woman. As her best friend points out, Bridgett has a thing for blondes, especially if they easily fit in with others. Bridgett is intimidated by beautiful people, partially due to her shape, and partially because she’s a wallflower.

Bridgett’s journey, is one of acceptance, not just of others, but of herself. As she gets to know Penelope, the hot girl in class, Bridgett is pushed into being more open and engaging. Penelope gets Bridgett to hang out with more people, most notably the members of Penelope’s sorority. While Bridgett is a wallflower, she also a conformist, willing to do whatever is necessary to fit in with the people she most wants to identify with.

Bridgett also struggles with the revelation that her best friend, Delilah, is heterosexual, a trait she finds confusing and abnormal. The more she thinks about it, the more the notion repels her. Even in the face of her affection for her friend, Bridgett can’t bring herself to get past this discovery, even though she cares a great deal for Delilah. Bridgett even wonders, at times, if Delilah is simply going through a phase.

All these little questions purposefully conflict with one another, fighting in Bridgett’s mind to lead her through life. The desires of others bend her just as much as her own hopes and fears. The only real solution for Bridgett is to keep trying, even if she doesn’t know what path she will walk.

Before the question of acceptance can be fully answered, another element rises, that of The Importance of Genetic Destiny.

Even though Bridgett’s desires drive her toward Penelope, Delilah prefers the company of men in intimate situations. Society in Vitamin F has decided that Bridgett and Penelope are right and Delilah are wrong, but that doesn’t mean society has the right answer. In a world where science can be used to circumvent all need for traditional reproduction, what impact do genetics really have?

It would be easy to dismiss genetics entirely when science can provide affordable alternatives for anyone. But if a crash in the quality of genetics can reduce the male population to an echo of its previous self, do genetics matter more or less? Someone, long before the start of Vitamin F, decided the answer to that question was genetics matter more. The real answer is actually in your hands, reader, and no one can take that from you.

In a world where women are the bulk of the population and homosexuality the officially recognized sexual preference, would it not be better if everyone was a lesbian? Men have fewer rights and more obligations in Vitamin F. Heterosexual marriage is no longer recognized by the state. Groups like the Office of Genetic Security—an organization tasked with protecting the gene pool—would call themselves champions of genetic diversity, but are they deluding themselves?

The dominant male presence in Vitamin F comes from Adam John, a zealot who believes in his cause enough to drive him toward Extremism.

Adam John wants to return to the society of the past, where men ruled everything and rote obedience was expected and enforced. He is willing to use any and all means to achieve this, especially murder and terrorism. He seeks holy war to satisfy his need to dominate the world, though he enjoys more visceral methods to advance his plans further, both in violence and in spreading his genes.

Even though Adam John despises the Queen, the government, and the controls they set in place, he is still a product of their actions. Without decades of state-mandated regulation of reproduction and sexual intercourse, people like Adam John would come about less often. Locking men like Bridgett’s grandfather away from the general population for their own protection has transformed them into a lower class. To many women, men are less than human, a subspecies kept alive to ensure the survival of future generations.

The first Queen decided heterosexuals and men were an abomination. Since she refused to accept them, her descendants took increasingly extreme actions to regulate, secure, and eventually confine anyone who didn’t adhere to their definition of genetic diversity. The believed it for so long, the Office of Genetic Security took shape to clinically regulate any outliers, using the most severe and impressive of penalties.

How far would you go to secure the gene pool? What would you be willing to do to make sure humanity could continue for generations? What, if anything, would you accept and make essential to the survival of the world?

These are the questions lying between the words of Vitamin F. They wait not to be asked, but for you to find the answers.


Len Berry, a lifelong resident of Missouri, studied biology before turning his imagination toward writing. In his spare time, Len enjoys drawing, watching anime, and playing an occasional video game. He is the author of the dystopian e-book Vitamin F, now available for Nook and Kindle. Since Len is an active blogger, you can find out more about him and his projects at

On Nook:

On Kindle: