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Wanda's Book Reviews

I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles.  (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).

Currently reading

Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Ann J. Lane
Wizard and Glass
Stephen King, Dave McKean
River of Blue Fire
Tad Williams
Richard Ford
Progress: 36/420 pages

Demon / John Varley

Demon - John Varley

The satellite-sized alien Gaea has gone completely insane. She has transformed her love of old movies into monstrous realities. She is Marilyn Monroe. She is King Kong. And now she must be destroyed.


It strikes me, as I finish up Demon, that John Varley’s trilogy is in many ways a mirror-image of Arthur Clarke’s 2001, a Space Odyssey. While both stories begin with humans exploring alien technology in the outer solar system, Clarke’s is all about the computers, space travel, and alien technology, while Varley’s is all about human relationships. Clarke’s aliens are aloof and cold, leaving behind technology just in case humans manage to develop into something interesting; Varley’s Gaea is intensely interested in humans—luring them to her world, sometimes with very convoluted methods, and using their films to express her insanity in this final volume of the trilogy.

About mid-book, Conal (a man from Earth with all of the prejudices associated) and Nova (a woman from a lesbian society on a human made satellite) have an argument/discussion which I think articulates Varley’s view of things rather well. Conal came from a society in which males were privileged and Nova came from one which demonizes men. They are thrown into a situation where they will have to co-operate and they must work out their differences and an interesting discussion on in-groups and out-groups ensues. Conal realizes that Nova’s choice of wardrobe (or lack thereof) is really none of his business (and shouldn’t affect how he relates to her) and Nova realizes that you don’t have to be a lesbian female to be a worthy companion. I re-read this particular section 2-3 times, just because I enjoyed it so much—it fit so well into the action, without feeling overly preachy (at least to me).

Needless to say, this whole series passes the Bechdel test with flying colours, very refreshing in a works from the 1970s and 1980s. The whole Gaean world, with its odd plants and animals, is interesting and fun to explore and has its own internal logic that made perfect sense to me as I read it, despite its oddity.

Book 205 of my science fiction & fantasy reading project.