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.
We welcome your comments, suggestions,
and offers of assistance.
Please be patient while waiting for us to get back to you.
about | credits | disclaimer | faq | feedback | privacy
These pages are edited and maintained at http://www.feministsf.org/ by Laura Quilter.
updated 06/13/07 .