Science Fiction, Fantasy & Utopia
	... www.feministsf.org ... est. 1994

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critical resources: Tiptree Award | Wiscon | Broad Universe

Reviews: Suzy McKee Charnas


Walk to the End of the World (1974)
(Holdfast Series 1) (Retrospective Tiptree Award Winner).
Motherlines (1978)
(Holdfast Series 2) (New York: Berkeley, 1978) (Retrospective Tiptree Award Winner).
The Furies (1994)
(Holdfast Series 3) (Tor, 1994; Tor, 1995; Women's Press, 1995). 1994 Tiptree Short list.
The Conqueror's Child (1999)
(Holdfast Series 4) (Tor, 1999, ISBN 0-312-85719-5).
The Slave and the Free (1999)
(reissue of Walk to the End of the World and Motherlines, Tor, 1999, ISBN 0-312-86912-6)
The Vampire Tapestry (1986)
(Tor, 1986)
Third chapter was also developed into a play, "Vampire Dreams," and has been performed in San Francisco. Broadcast in entirety and with music, October, 2002, by KPFK; available at http://www.suzymckeecharnas.com/VampDreams_production.html .
The Ruby Tear as Rebecca Brand (1997)
(Feb. 1997, Forge, vampire novel)
Moonstone and Tiger Eye (1992)
short story collection
The Kingdom of Kevin Malone (1994)
(young adult) - won 1994 Fantasy Award for Children's Literature
The Bronze King (1985)
(Sorcery Hall 1) (1985) (young adult)
The Silver Glove (1988)
(Sorcery Hall 2) (1988) (young adult)
The Golden Thread (1989)
(Sorcery Hall 3) (1989) (young adult)
Dorothea Dreams (1986)
musical production, lyrics
My Father's Ghost

Short Fiction

"Advocates" with Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
in Robert R. McCammon's Under the Fang (1991) and The Complete Vampire Stories of Chelsea Quinn Yarbro (1994)
"Beauty and the Opera, or the Phantom Beast"
(March 1996, Asimov's Science Fiction). Shortlisted for 1996 Tiptree Award.
(July 1989, Asimov's Science Fiction; and Stephen Jones' The Mammoth Book of Werewolves, 1994)
"Listening to Brahms"
(Short Story Paperback #19; Pulphouse Publishing, Eugene OR)
"Scorched Supper on New Niger"
(1980, New Voices III)
"Unicorn Tapestry" (1980)
"A Woman Appeared"
in M. Barr's Future Females (1981).

Non-Fiction: Essays, Criticism, Reviews

"No Such Thing as Tearing Down Just a Little: Post-Holocaust Themes in Feminist SF"
(1980, Janus Volume 6)

Web Sites


Awards: 1980 Nebula novella, 1990 Hugo short story, 1994 Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children's Literature

Walk to the End of the World, Motherlines, The Furies, and The Conqueror's Child comprise a 4-volume epic. Walk was written in the 70s and is a post-holocaust dystopia in which women have been enslaved as "fems," persons of color have all been (we presume) eliminated, and power in society accrues to the hands of older men. (The generation war notions of the 60s & 70s had an obvious impact.) Society is falling apart as the few natural resources left are exploited. One woman is sent to travel with two men as their slave; but she has a secret mission. The novel ends in a conflagration as the young men revolt and she escapes. Motherlines takes up Alldera's escape to the fabled land of free women. This society was formed from clones who comprise "families" of certain types of women. Cloning cannot be initiated without sperm and the women have been genetically altered to initiate reproduction with sperm from a source other than human males. Freed fems have created a smaller secondary society. Alldera spends time with both societies. The Furies was written in 1994, over a decade after Motherlines. The Freed Fems have decided to at last fulfill Alldera's mission and return to the land of men to free the other women. Alldera encounters one of the men with whom she travelled in Walk to the End of the World and maintains a peculiar relationship with him. Finally, in The Conqueror's Child, Alldera's daughter - conceived of her slave-rapes, born into freedom among the riding women, follows her mother to Holdfast, with her own adopted child - a male. She thus lands in the middle of a society that is rebuilding, and restructuring - with difficulty - its gender relations.

Although the books should definitely all be read, and in sequence, each one is quite different from the others, and unlike many series, the quality does not deteriorate at all. One of Charnas' great successes with these books is her realism: her characters are people, not idealized stereotypes, and her people interact with each other as people do, in ways that shouldn't surprise any of us. This is what makes science fiction great for feminists (in my opinion): the ability to put people in situations that do not currently exist to see what might happen.

Motherlines and Walk to the End of the World jointly won one of three Retrospective Tiptree Awards (1996).

--lq, 5/28/96; 6/13/96; 7/18/99.

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critical resources: Tiptree Award | Wiscon | Broad Universe


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