Two novels, one short story about love, life, and society – page-turning, beautiful prosa with a fine scifi twist – to read on the beach, on a boat or in a hammock.
Novel by Andri Snaer Magnason (A), Victoria Cribb (T)
Indridi and Sigrid, two blissfully happy young lovers, have their perfect worlds threatened (along with Indridi’s sanity) when they are “calculated apart” by an algorithm that finds the perfect match for everyone. Steeped in influences ranging from Italo Calvino, Jorge Luis Borges, and Kurt Vonnegut to George Orwell, Douglas Adams, and Monty Python, Andri Snær Magnason has created a surreal yet uncomfortably familiar world, where relentless and overpowering controls challenge the gentle power of love.
NO WOMAN BORN (1944), from: BEST OF C.L. MOORE (1975)
Short story by C.L. Moore
An actress so enchanting and talented and lovely, people sing songs about her, Deirdre nearly dies in a theatre fire. Only her essence or soul is saved by a scientist who manages to encapsulate it into a metallic, mechanical body. After a year spent in seclusion, the new Deirdre reemerges and stuns the audience with an exquisite, non-human performance. The men who saved her wonder, will she be able to cope with her in-humanity at all? This is not a Frankenstein story at all, and it’s not a Pigmaleon either. Deirdre’s story offers a turn of events to both her saviours and to the reader.
(Actually, I can recommend anything by C.L. Moore to you if you like the thoughtful, poetic approach to fantasy and science-fiction – and appreciate writers such as Ray Bradbury and Angela Carter. For instance, Moore’s critically widely acclaimed Jirel of Joiry is one of the first, and most original sword-and-sorcery heroines)
THE HANDMAID’S TALE, 1998
Novel by Margaret Atwood
With a Hulu series adaptation featuring “Gilmore Girl” Alexis Bledel, Elisabeth Moss, Yvonne Strahovski and Joseph Fiennes, this novel will move onto many a reading list this summer. Don’t be the last to catch up on this amazing piece of dystopian prose by Canadian grande dame of social science fiction, poet, literary critic, environmental activist, inventor and national treasure Margaret Atwood.
THE HANDMAID’S TALE sketches a fundamentalist theocracy in which social classes are shaped by a Old-Testament inspired order. The dictatorship has its own gruelsome language aimed at control and separation (“unbabies”, “unwomen”) and barbaric rituals but the elite is pictured as not really interested in religion, nor true regime believers, just interested in power. The story is told by a “handmaid” to a leading regime officer and his wife. The handmaid is a brainwashed woman whose only purpose it is to bear children for the couple she’s assigned to (enter theme of: environment pollution and disease leading to sterility). The narrator, however, remembers her earlier life, her husband and daughter. The story is chillingly realistic.