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Sunday, February 12, 2006

Ammonite, by Nicola Griffith

This book is not science fiction. First of all, a virus that kills all the men and only 20% of the women is scientifically implausible. That the same virus might give all surivors access to a collective Jungian unconscious is even more implausible. The last straw came when I read the author's afterword at the end of the book:

Women are not aliens. Take away men and we do not automatically lose our fire and intelligence and sex drive...

As far as I could tell, only aliens could have lived on the planet that Griffith describes: there's no easily accessible medical technology, yet every woman survives childbirth. The "men's world" of technology (referred to as The Company)is equally implausible --- despite great scientific advances (ability to manipulate DNA that can create a vaccine without access to an actual viral sample), they are unable to disinfect returnees or provide advanced medical help better than a splint?

As a fantasy, this book fails as well. The protagonist does boneheaded things that in any sane world would have resulted in death or worse. She makes decisions that binds her cohorts and colleagues without consulting them, and then expects them to agree to be bound by them, and in general behaves like a total dick.

All in all, that such a book won the Tiptree Award while David Brin's Glory Season was denied it will lead me to ignore the Tiptree Award in the future as a possible signal for the goodness of a novel. Brin's comments as such appear as a text file here. Download by using "save as" and view using emacs.

1 comment:

Spotted Loon said...

I haven't read Ammonite.

But Slow River was a nice read.