Sunday, December 30, 2012

Classic Sci-Fi: The End of This Day's Business by Katharine Burdekin

Publisher: Feminist Press at CUNY
Date: 1990 (written 1935)
Format: paperback
Source: purchased used
Read: because I love old speculative fiction
Pages: 158
Reading time: four days

From GoodReads: Written in 1935 but never before published, this novel depicts a world ruled by women some 4,000 years into the future. Men live alone and rear boys in a cheerful atmosphere of sports, physical labor, and healthy sexuality, but without the consciousness of anxiety or knowledge of history claimed by women. The plot of the novel, described by Choice as “a forgotten masterpiece,” turns on the desire of one woman to teach her son about the past. Risking both their lives, she tells the story of the rise of fascism and the subsequent world transformation as life-loving women took over from death-loving men.

My review: The End of This Day's Business was absolutely fascinating. It got off to a slow start, though, being written mostly in dialogue (a form with which I often struggle reading) and not containing much action. Once the themes of the novel became clear, however, the book was extremely intriguing. Burdekin takes a unique feminist stance on past history, psychologically examining the construction of gender roles and then reversing such roles in her futuristic utopia. But is it really a utopia? Maybe for radical feminists, but the main characters, both male and female, call out its dystopian elements. This isn't a page-turning, exciting work, but the ideas presented in it make it a fascinating and worthwhile read. I'm certainly looking forward to Burdekin's other novels now.

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