Friday, April 11, 2014

Book Review: Walk to the End of the World

For my classic science fiction novel this month, I read the 1974 book Walk to the End of the World, by Suzy McKee Charnas.

The book takes place many generations after a world-ending event called the Wasting, wherein all of mankind's natural resources ran out and the majority of the world's population died, along with most larger animals.

In the settlement called Holdfast, society is broken up in two key ways; first by age, Seniors and Juniors, who each have specific roles and rarely interact with each other in any way that isn't antagonistic, and secondly, by gender.

In the world of the story the Wasting is now blamed on women (called fems in the novel), who were thought to be the cause of the end of the old world and have now been reduced to labour and breeding animals, not actually considered creature with souls or any value except their necessary function in continuing the human race.

As a man raised in a house of women, who has since moved into his own house (and filled it with his wife and daughters) reading the book was a bizarre experience for me, the author does a great job at creating the society and all of its rules, and by breaking the book into smaller parts and focusing each on a different character, the reader is able to get a very good idea of how this world works.

The book was followed by three sequels: Motherlines (1978), The Furies (1994), and The Conqueror's Child (1999), all of which have now been added to my list of books I hope to read this year.

A little dated in concept and writing style, but definitely a worthwhile read.

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