“There’s plenty of action, but it rarely solves things in the way that the characters, or readers, expect. If, like me, you’re tired of stories with predictable outcomes, this book is for you.”
Nancy Jane Moore, author of The Weave
It’s summer on the Connecticut shore, sometime in the not-too-distant future. The invaders have been and gone, taking most of civilization with them. All that remain are scattered groups of women survivors, their skin speckled silver with alien implants. Most of them are too broken to do more than just survive in the encroaching wilderness. A strong few use the power coursing through their alien wires to flourish, to rebuild. In the community of Saugatuck the women have slowly created an oasis of civilization. The only thing missing is any kind of certainty about their future. Will they live, will they die, will they ever bear children? Some of them care. Others not so much. Some of them still miss the men. Others not so much. Lo is one of those others.
Although she likes to think she’s happy leading her remarkable community of women survivors, in truth Lo is twitchy and bored after thirty years doing nothing except safeguard them from danger. She needs a new challenge. And she certainly gets one when two men in a spaceship fly into town — bearing news of more like them on the way. Lo responds by firing up her weapons systems. Her own security crew have to stop her. Perhaps it’s time to quit shooting uninvited guests on sight. Perhaps the women of Saugatuck might welcome an influx of men who can potentially give them children. Suddenly Lo finds herself facing both rebellion within and trouble without — and that’s before the big metal boxes begin falling from the sky.
It’s not going to be your ordinary post-apocalyptic summer.
In addition to offering an exciting glimpse into an imaginary near-future — post-first-contact, post-apocalyptic, post-technological-revolution — Flesh & Wires raises questions about community, colonialism, immigration and basic human rights, not to mention the limits of sisterhood. It also challenges our assumptions about the ties and obligations of family, community and society in a crisis situation. You think you know your people, your values, yourself. But do you really know what you’d do if the aliens came?
2016 was a hard year for feminists, humanists, and our troubled, struggling, divided world in general. The news was depressing and incessant. Facebook was worse. So I turned off the noise whenever possible and sought refuge in books that transported me to wonderfully different and remote places. Which is too say, that I spent a lot of time off-world. Accordingly, my greatest hits list for this year is a selection of books that take the reader far away from the buzzfeed of the here and now. In spite of the fact that they all explore the ubiquitous contemporary problems of inequality, suffering, and the damage that self-serving politics do to societies, these books nevertheless proved a great salve for my weary mind. The best kind of science fiction not only opens our minds to other ways of seeing, thinking, living, and relating; it changes the very way that we feel. There is nothing that renews the spirit quite like getting Very Far Away sometimes.
Emma Newman: Planetfall (Ace/Roc, Nov 2015) One troubled woman’s account of the perils of following ideology to the end of the galaxy.
Carolyn Ives Gilman: Dark Orbit (Tor/Macmillan, 2015) First contact, literally in the dark, great stuff for stretching the imagination.
Lily Brooks-Dalton: Good Morning Midnight (Random House, 2016) Loneliness and the human need to connect, even when there’s nobody else out there.
Cixin Liu: The Three-Body Problem (Tor, 201) The cultural revolution meets a metaphysical first encounter story.
(Our own) L Timmel Duchamp: The Waterdancer’s World (Aqueduct Press 2016) An array of formidable women shape the destiny of a very unlikely planet colony.
And luckily for me as I head into the winter reading season, some of these great books already have sequels (or companions). Look for After Atlas by Emma Newman and books two and three of the Remembrance of Earth’s Past series—The Dark Forest and Death’s End—by Cixin Liu.
For a full year’s supply of great recommendations you can check out the whole Aqueduct End-of-year review series — The Pleasures of Reading, Viewing, and Listening in 2016 — at Ambling Along the Aqueduct.
I am very happy to report that Flesh & Wires is on Locus’s 2015 Recommended Reading List in the First Novel Category – along with work by fellow Aqueductista, Nancy Jane Moore (The Weave). I look forward to reading every single other book on the list in 2016 – as part of my Good Reads Challenge goal of 100 books this year! First up, Catherynne M. Valente’s Radiance.
Reading Inspires. Reading Rewires.
So it’s 2016 and I’m finally tweeting like everyone else. I was late to the game though, so jackie hatton was already taken. That’s okay. I’ve understood for a while that nobody is that unique – and that very often in life you have to just suck it up and adapt. Therefore you can now find me on Twitter at @jackiehattton [that’s with 3 t’s]. I will be talking about #scifi and #feminism and #whatever else I feel like. I also plan to highlight #inspiringwomen #goodguys and #greatbooks whenever and wherever I find them. I invite you to follow me if you share my interests. Just as long as you’re not trying to sell me your mother then I will follow you back. Tweet, Tweet. Jackie 🙂
Aqueduct Press recently asked 28 of its author/contributors to reflect upon their most memorable reading, viewing and listening in 2015.
What a great source of inspiration in 2016.
Check out my recommendations @AmblingAlongtheAqueduct