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Transistor cover


From the creators of Bastion, Transistor is a sci-fi themed action RPG that invites you to wield an extraordinary weapon of unknown origin as you fight through a stunning futuristic city. Transistor seamlessly integrates thoughtful strategic planning into a fast-paced action experience, melding responsive gameplay and rich atmospheric storytelling. During the course of the adventure, you will piece together the Transistor's mysteries as you pursue its former owners.


Susan
"Buy a bundle with the soundtrack?" I asked myself at checkout. "Why on earth would I do that?!" LITTLE DID I KNOW.

Ira
LITTLE DID YOU KNOW. As the game's developer, Supergiant, is apparently wont to do, the soundtrack for this game is absolutely gorgeous and woven into its storytelling and characterization. The music is a great way to start this review because it's so much a part of the game's atmosphere and worldbuilding. The game is set in a city, Cloudbank, that is ever-changing based on the votes of its populace, from what's on restaurant menus to the colour of the sky to the weather. We start the game with Red, the female protagonist, and a man's voice coming from the titular sword, the Transistor, and we face the Camerata as our antagonists. The cast also includes a variety of diverse characters, including people of colour and queer folks, though the way the narrative treats them is... complicated. Red is a silent protagonist, but the sword talks plenty, providing narration, commentary, and interaction. This is accomplished by absolutely superb voice acting on the part of Logan Cunningham, the voice of the Transistor. It's especially effective when he has emotional moments with Red or when he's being affected by the Spines.

Transistor screenshot: stopping to hum


Susan
Logan Cunningham carried so much of the game for me, entirely on the strength of his voice acting. The man in the transistor is our narrator, our primary source of explanations and world-building, and the voice acting adds so much colour and emotion – which is really what you need in a game where the protagonist can't speak for herself. The way he says Red's name breaks my heart, there's a world of backstory in the way he says "Hello again, Sybil," his pitch-perfect reactions – Ira, I don't think I can tell you how much I liked that voice acting, and the bits you picked out are the bits that got me too.

(The other voices are good too – Royce sounds like Matthew McConnahey's character in True Detective, played back at a slower speed, Asher is the right level of awkward stiltedness for someone trying to reveal and conceal the truth at the same time, and the distortions of Sibyl are appropriately unnerving – but the man in the transistor is the stand-out part for me.)

The voice acting is also what sold me on Red and the transistor's relationship in the early stages of the game. Who and what they are to each other isn't really clear for at least half of the game – I admit, I spent the first few levels going "Please tell me he's not a charming creeper taking advantage, that is a trope I recognise" until I caught up. But through the voice acting, it's crystal clear that he adores her, even though he's essentially talking to himself the entire game.

This structure – the transistor speaking mostly in monologue rather than dialogue – means much of the story and characterisation is told in gaps. Because Red doesn't speak at all during the game, you have to actually look for her characterisation. A lot of it is done through what the other characters say about her, or through her gestures and comments on the OVC terminals – public-access computer terminals set up all over town to enable the mass voting that Cloudbank relies on – but interacting with most of the terminals is completely optional, which means that you can actually skip half of the characterisation of the game's main character. But the way it's done is excellent - she can leave comments on news items and surveys, so you can watch her type, delete, type -

("Is it following me?" she writes, but she posts something different entirely.)

Transistor screenshot: stopping to hum


And there are only two chances that I've found to have Red and the Transistor actually interact, both of which come through the OVC terminals (one I actually MISSED the first time around - when I say that it's possible to actually skip some of the characterisation, I'm not kidding!).

Ira
At this point I want to pause and consider the problem of silent women. Read more... )

SPOILERS BELOW

Spoilers )
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Book cover of Gone Crazy in Alabama by Rita Williams-Garcia


Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern are off to Alabama to visit their grandmother, Big Ma, and her mother, Ma Charles. Across the way lives Ma Charles's half sister, Miss Trotter. The two half sisters haven't spoken in years. As Delphine hears about her family history, she uncovers the surprising truth that's been keeping the sisters apart. But when tragedy strikes, Delphine discovers that the bonds of family run deeper than she ever knew possible. (Source)


Both Ana and I reviewed One Crazy Summer, the first of Rita Williams-Garcia's books about the three Gaither sisters, their Pa, Grandma (Big Ma) and their activist mother. Join us as we (sadly) see the trilogy finish up and co-review the final book, Gone Crazy in Alabama.

Read more... )
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Cover of Nnedi Okorafor's book Lagoon showing a green illustrated sea scene with squid, sharks and a person at the bottom of the ocean surrounded by a spotlight


Today Jodie is joined by Meghan, from Medieval Bookworm, for a co-review of Nnedi Okorafor's Lagoon. Did this novel of aliens, squids and a magic closely tied to Lagos' oceans sink or swim with the ladies?


Read more... )
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American version of The Shattering   Australian version of The Shattering


Seventeen-year-old Keri likes to plan for every possibility. She knows what to do if you break an arm, or get caught in an earthquake or fire. But she wasn’t prepared for her brother’s suicide, and his death has left her shattered with grief. When her childhood friend Janna tells her it was murder, not suicide, Keri wants to believe her. After all, Janna’s brother died under similar circumstances years ago, and Janna insists a visiting tourist, Sione, who also lost a brother to apparent suicide that year, has helped her find some answers.

As the three dig deeper, disturbing facts begin to pile up: one boy killed every year; all older brothers; all had spent New Year’s Eve in the idyllic town of Summerton. But when their search for the serial killer takes an unexpected turn, suspicion is cast on those they trust the most.

As secrets shatter around them, can they save the next victim? Or will they become victims themselves? (source)


Spoilers.

Jodie: I remember you were a huge fan of Healey's first novel Guardian of the Dead. Do you want to start off by talking about how the experience of reading The Shattering compared to reading Guardian of the Dead? Did you enjoy it as much and if so, why? And what were your favourite elements of The Shattering?

Renay: I loved that novel! It's been some time since I read it, but I really loved the main character and the rich world building of that story. Coming away from The Shattering, though, I do think I prefer The Guardian of the Dead, although this book was fun, too. That's because this book was harder for me, because of the POV switches — first person to third — that I have a lot of trouble with while I'm reading. I get bumped out of the story, and it doesn't help I'm not wild about first person narration so the constant back and forth was really jarring. The Shattering suffered a little because of that, and it took me 70 or so pages to really get into it. Plus, I'm unsure about the pacing. But before we dig into all that, my favorite element was the renewal of friendship between Keri and Janna and watching Sione gain confidence in himself. The friendship elements here were really strong! Healey does great friendship. What about you? Read more... )
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Illustration by Wesley Allsbrook showing Essie with her purple braid wearing a suit and carrying a gun

It is probably best to for us to embrace subjectivity, to withhold judgement. Let us say that the entity believing himself to be Matthew Corley feels that he regained consciousness while reading an article in the newspaper about the computer replication of personalities of the dead. He believes that it is 1994, the year of his death, that he regained consciousness after a brief nap, and that the article he was reading is nonsense. All of these beliefs are wrong.
(...)
“It’s 2064,” Essie says. “You’re a simulation of yourself. I am your biographer.”

Ana: "Sleeper" by Jo Walton is a story that presents us not only with a technologicaly advanced world where it's possible to create a AI consciousness based on your understanding of a historical figure, but also a world where the stark economic inequalities we're familiar with today have been greatly magnified. The dystopian nature of this world becomes increasingly obvious as the story progresses, thanks to passages such as this:
She finds it hard to imagine the space Matthew had, the luxury. Only the rich live like that now. Essie is thirty-five, and has student debt that she may never pay off. She cannot imagine being able to buy a house, marry, have a child. She knows Matthew wasn’t considered rich, but it was a different world.

Later on, Essie tells the simulation of Matthew that,
“The class system needs to come down again. You didn’t bring it down far enough, and it went back up. The corporations and the rich own everything. We need all the things you had—unions, and free education, and paid holidays, and a health service. And very few people know about them and fewer care.”

This is not new territory for Jo Walton. Although at first glance this story is very different from the Small Change trilogy, they also have quite a few things in common. One looks towards the future and another towards an alternate past; one is science fiction and the other alternative history interlaced with crime — but all the same, the themes and political concerns at the heart of the two works are closely linked. I wanted to start by asking you what you thought of the world depicted in "Sleeper". Do you think that despite its brevity the story manages to set up a vivid picture of the threats of uncontrolled capitalism?
Read more... )

You can read "Sleeper" for free at Tor.com.
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What does it mean when a book is released as YA fantasy in one country but adult fantasy in another? What IS epic fantasy, anyway? Should everyone read One Piece (YES)? Does it matter if most of the awesome parts of a book have to be found in hindsight and require qualification? Are revenge narratives over kingdoms even interesting anymore? Does Joe Abercrombie like pain and suffering to the exclusion of everything else*? Renay and Ana from The Book Smugglers tackle these questions and more using thousands and thousands of words.

* lies; we don't tackle this at all, because the answer is obviously yes.


cover and blurb although the blurb got a little overwhelmed with itself )




Spoilers.

Renay: So, that happened. Read more... )
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[personal profile] helloladies
Illustration for The Mothers of Voorhisville, showing Jeremy arriving to town on a hease


The things you have heard are true; we are the mothers of monsters. We would, however, like to clarify a few points.


Jodie: Over the last year, I've noticed that SFF has almost a sub-genre of stories about fantastical reproduction (The Best of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lord, The Brides of Heaven by N. K Jemisin, Maul by Tricia Sullivan to name a few examples). The genre has also produced a lot of stories which imagine, or express concern about, how parents will have children in the future or in magical worlds, for example Starglass by Phoebe North, Motherlines by Suzy Mckee Charnas and God's War by Kameron Hurley all show futuristic reproduction.

The Mothers of Voorhisville by Mary Rickert is one of these stories about fantastical pregnancies, babies and births. SFF has a troubled time with mothers, and the genre is well known for using dead mothers as a quick and lazy way to inject emotional pain into its stories (Guardians of the Galaxy I'm looking at you). Did you have any concerns about the way motherhood was characterised in this story, or did you feel that The Mothers of Voorhisville managed to present a complicated picture of women who were 'the mothers of monsters' without demonising mothers in typical, sexist ways?

Read more... )

You can read The Mothers of Voorhisville for free at Tor.
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Cover at for PS Be Eleven by Rita-Williams Garcia, showing three black girls skipping rope on a city street, wearing 1960s style bell-bottom jeans


After spending the summer in Oakland with their mother and the Black Panthers, Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern arrive home with a newfound streak of independence, and the sisters aren't the only ones who have changed. Now Pa has a girlfriend. Uncle Darnell returns from Vietnam a different man. But Big Ma still expects Delphine to keep her sisters in line. That's much harder now that Vonetta and Fern refuse to be bossed around. Besides her sisters, Delphine's got plenty of other things to worry about-like starting sixth grade, being the tallest girl in her class, and dreading the upcoming school dance (her first). The one person she confides in is her mother, Cecile. Through letters, Delphine pours her heart out and receives some constant advice: to be eleven while she can.

Jodie: Even though we didn't co-review One Crazy Summer I think we're united in our feelings about Rita Williams-Garcia's first Gaither Sisters book. Loved, loved, loved it! You recently said 'it's a story that makes room for several simultaneous truths', and the way the book validated both Delphine and Cecile's feelings absolutely swept me away.

Did you have any particular hopes, dreams and expectations going into the sequel, P.S. Be Eleven because of the way One Crazy Summer developed? Moar words )
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[personal profile] helloladies


For hundreds of years the Guardians have ruled the world of the Hundred, but these powerful gods no longer exert their will on the world. Only the reeves, who patrol on enormous eagles, still represent the Guardians' power. And the reeves are losing their authority; for there is a dark shadow across the land that not even the reeves can stop.

A group of fanatics has risen to devour villages, towns, and cities in their drive to annihilate all who oppose them. No one knows who leads them; they seem inhumanly cruel and powerful. Mai and Anji, riding with a company of dedicated warriors and a single reeve who may hold a key to stopping the deadly advance of the devouring horde, must try, or the world will be lost to the carnage. But a young woman sworn to the Goddess may prove more important than them all . . . if they are not too late.


Spoilers. Read more... )
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Illustration of a girl suspended in the sky above tall factory buildings. Her hair and skirt are on fire, and her head is bowed. She holds a long piece of red thread in one hand.


In America, they don’t let you burn. My mother told me that.

Jodie: Ana, you read "Burning Girls" a while ago and then suggested it might be a good piece for us to discuss together in a Short Business post. Was there one aspect of this story that you were excited to talk about first?

Ana: First of all, I thought that like me you might be interested in the way "Burning Girls" combines history with fairy tale elements. Reading The Girls at the Kingfisher Club recently was a reminder of how much I love that sort of thing, so it was great to revisit a story that does something along the same general lines.
Spoilers behind the cut )
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Korra and Wan, the first Avatar

Last year, Lady Business presented Ana and Jodie's co-review of series one of The Legend of Korra, which sits somewhere between a sequel to and a spin-off from 'Avatar: The Last Airbender'. It's fair to say that as feminists invested in media and huge Avatar fans, we both had a lot of feels about this program and a lot of dreams for series two. Join us as we talk about how the second series played out and whether flying bunnies can soothe a riled critic.

Jodie: Ok, so I feel like we have A LOT to get through in this post. You correctly predicted that I have many emotions about this series, especially related to the use of secondary female characters this series and they are all bashing against each other. Where shall we start?
All the words + spoilers )

Other Reviews and supplemental material:

(Yours?)
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[personal profile] helloladies
cover for Cold Steel


Trouble, treachery, and magic just won't stop plaguing Cat Barahal. The Master of the Wild Hunt has stolen her husband Andevai. The ruler of the Taino kingdom blames her for his mother's murder. The infamous General Camjiata insists she join his army to help defeat the cold mages who rule Europa. An enraged fire mage wants to kill her. And Cat, her cousin Bee, and her half-brother Rory, aren't even back in Europa yet, where revolution is burning up the streets.

Revolutions to plot. Enemies to crush. Handsome men to rescue.

Cat and Bee have their work cut out for them. (source)


Spoilers.

KJ: So I have start by thanking Renay for recommending this series to me so strongly, because otherwise I would not have picked it up. And that would have been a shame. Kate Elliott has long been on my list of "authors to check out someday, perhaps", but I'd never received a rec for any particular title. Since that list is very, very long, I doubt she would have moved to the top otherwise. Now I feel a burning need to at least take a look at everything else she has ever written.

Renay: By "strongly" you mean climbing the walls and going "READ IT OMG READ IT OR ELSE" and freaking you out so much that it became self-preservation, right? ;) I'm the best handseller, clearly. Count yourself lucky we live half a country apart, otherwise I would've taped the book to my face and done a backward crab crawl at you down a dark hall. WOULDN'T YOU HAVE BEEN CONVINCED? Read more... )

"The ideal is a story in which women are present all the way from the protagonist to multiple secondary and minor characters, and that their interactions with each other are as important as their interactions with men." — Kate Elliott, Author Interview, The Book Wars





Other reviews )
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[personal profile] helloladies
The clones from Orphan Black drawn like characters from The Simpsons
Source

Last year, the BBC made a major science fiction action/thriller series, helmed by a woman, that made about 50% of the internet lose it. It was never in doubt that opinions about "Orphan Black" would make it onto Lady Business. Join Ana and Jodie as they examine the many amazing faces of Tatiana Maslany, super-actress, and share their thoughts about a story where human cloning has produced a set of interesting, diverse women. As usual, be warned that there will be plenty of spoilers.

Jodie: Tatiana Maslany though.
Read More - Lots and lots more )
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Parks and Recreation full cast

"Parks and Recreation", the mockumentary-style adventures of Leslie Knope and the rest of the Pawnee Parks Department, was definitely my favourite TV discovery of 2013. Getting acquainted with these characters over the course of five seasons was a complete delight, and it made me incredibly happy to see Jodie fall for the series as hard as I did. So we're here today to share with you our many, many words of joyful squeeing about everything that makes "Parks and Recreation" so great: the characters, the diversity of the assemble cast (still so rare for a major hit series), and of course the wonderful humour. Along the way we also consider the moments in which "Parks and Rec" defaulted to tired narrative tropes we'd prefer to see gone.

I hope you'll join us for this shameless torrent of words, though those of you who have yet to watch the series should be warned that there will be lots of spoilers. )
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Emma stands behind Snow, who is dressed in her curse world contemporary clothes but holds a bow and arrow


Once Upon a Time’s first season brought us a wonderfully campy fantasy show with a cast full of all kinds of women. Its second season lost the thread a little bit, but Jodie and Clare were already hooked. Watch them tackle the show’s second season, from beloved ships to skeevy pirates to the show’s race problem.


Clare has already jumped into season three, while Jodie's UK location as usual puts her woefully behind on the US show gossip. Expect blunt spoilers for season two and vaguer hints about season three. )

Here’s hoping that Once Upon a Time starts being a little more cohesive and lady-centric come season three. Jodie is waiting for season three to come to her side of the Pond. Clare is watching season three Stateside on Sundays with increasing delight and incredulity.
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Book cover for Cold Magic which shows a front facing image of Cat Barahal. She has dark hair curly hair. To the left side of her is a curlicue pattern and behind her is something that looks like machinery. The bottom of the cover shows a blue mountain range.


It is the dawn of a new age... The Industrial Revolution has begun, factories are springing up across the country, and new technologies are transforming in the cities. But the old ways do not die easy.

“I was not a bard or a djeli or an historian or a scribe and I was certainly not a sage, but that didn't mean I wasn't curious…”

Young Cat Barahal thinks she understands the world she lives in and her place in it, but in fact she is merely poised, unaware, on the brink of shattering events. Drawn into a labyrinth of politics involving blood, betrayal and old feuds, she will be forced to make an unexpected and perilous journey in order to discover the truth, not just about her own family but about an ancient secret lying at the heart of her world.

Cat and her cousin Bee are part of this revolution. Young women at college, learning of the science that will shape their future and ignorant of the magics that rule their families. But all of that will change when the Cold Mages come for Cat. New dangers lurk around every corner and hidden threats menace her every move. If blood can't be trusted, who can you trust?
(source)


Renay and Jodie present an epic co-review, with extreme spoilers, of some epic fantasy. How appropriate. tl;dr )

Supplemental Material )

Other Reviews )
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[personal profile] helloladies
Korra poses beside the giant statue of Aang


'The Legend of Korra' is somewhere between a sequel to and a spin off from 'Avatar: The Last Airbender'. It's set in the same world as Avatar, but 70 years later, and it features an entirely new cast of characters. There are, however, several links with the events of 'Avatar' - you learn a lot about how the events at the end of the third and final series affected the world, and you even get glimpses into the lives of beloved Avatar characters through flashbacks. You might remember how much we enjoyed Avatar from last year's posts; to find out our thoughts on 'The Legend of Korra', dive in.

We spoil everything, including 'Marley and Me'. )


Related posts:




Other reviews and interesting posts:

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[personal profile] helloladies
book cover for The Thief showing a two hands cupping a stone amulet with a bright blue centre


'The king's scholar, the magus, believes he knows the site of an ancient treasure. To attain it for his king, he needs a skillful thief, and he selects Gen from the king's prison. The magus is interested only in the thief's abilities.

What Gen is interested in is anyone's guess. Their journey toward the treasure is both dangerous and difficult, lightened only imperceptibly by the tales they tell of the old gods and goddesses.' ( source)


As part of Long Awaited Reads month Ana and I read 'The Thief' by Megan Whalen Turner, the first book in 'The Queen's Thief' quartet. It was kind of lovely. And so short! Why you could read it over a few lunch breaks. *whistles innocently*

Just a note: as the author says at her website 'I'd like to think that finding out major plot points ahead of time won't ruin The Thief, but it will certainly change the experience.' We tend to get pretty into the meat of the books here at Lady Business, so please proceed with caution.

Read more... )
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a black book cover showing a mole surfacing from a tangle of cogs, picked out in yellow - the author's name is in large white letters at the top of the cover


'On board the moletrain Medes, Sham Yes ap Soorap watches in awe as he witnesses his first moldywarpe hunt: the giant mole bursting from the earth, the harpoonists targeting their prey, the battle resulting in one’s death and the other’s glory. But no matter how spectacular it is, Sham can't shake the sense that there is more to life than traveling the endless rails of the railsea–even if his captain can think only of the hunt for the ivory-coloured mole she’s been chasing since it took her arm all those years ago. When they come across a wrecked train, at first it's a welcome distraction. But what Sham finds in the derelict—a series of pictures hinting at something, somewhere, that should be impossible—leads to considerably more than he'd bargained for. Soon he's hunted on all sides, by pirates, trainsfolk, monsters and salvage-scrabblers. And it might not be just Sham's life that's about to change. It could be the whole of the railsea.' (source)


Continuing their theme of being full on China Miéville fan-girls, Maree and Jodie read his new YA novel in August 2012, 'Railsea'. Predictably they had A LOT to say:

Jodie: This is probably the most excited I've been to discuss a book in ages because 'Railsea' was just so much fun for me to read. I giggled out loud (this rarely happens outside of books by Terry Pratchett or Danny Wallace). I feel like I spent the last two weeks on an intellectual romp, where all the jokes were funny and smart rather than laboured and "intelligent". So I guess first I want to know was it the same for you - how was your reading experience?

Maree: My reading experience was similar. I was pulling for Sham so very hard, and the Shroake siblings? BEST characters.

It's a YA novel for sure, but it's so very clever. You can see Miéville's intellectualism all over it, but it's very accessible. And what other writer would write a romp like this, set it in some distant dystopic future, make it a Moby Dick ... is it allegory I want? and STILL make it hugely fun and thinky.

It's SO clever and yes, I love it. :D

Avast me hearties, but 'ware the spoilers )

Jodie: Any closing thoughts?

Maree: I want my very own daybat. (And YAY MIEVILLE for NOT killing off the animal!)

Jodie: Day-be lives!

Maree: Yay, Day-be!

Jodie: So, can we plan the next Miéville readlong (I am super tempted by 'King Rat' now, have you read that?).

Maree: I need you to read Un Lun Dun - Miéville's other YA novel, because I'd like to discuss comparisons.

Jodie: Should I read 'UnLun Dun' first and then maybe we could put in 'King Rat' for the end of the year/start of next year (ahhh how did that happen?). They're both in my local library.

Maree: Yes yes read Un Lun Dun first! I love Un Lun Dun! :D

I know right? It's SEPTEMBER!!! Yes, end of year/start of next year sounds good for King Rat, barring the zombie apocalypse :-)

We shall return!

Our previous flail posts about Miéville's work:

'The City and the City'
'Kraken'
'Iron Council'

Reviews of 'Railsea':

things mean a lot
The Book Smugglers
Tor
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Renay and Jodie discuss a book so overtly feminist and female focused that its author surely must have dastardly plans for mankind. If you never go past the spoiler cut, how will you ever save the world from the clutches of the womenz?


cover of The Carhullan Army which shows a green background and images of winding creeper plants with yellow flowers   cover of Daughters of the North which shows a out of focus photograph of a woman's downturned face and shoulder


The state of the nation has changed. With much of the country now underwater, assets and weapons seized by the government - itself run by the sinister Authority - and war raging in South America and China, life in Britain is unrecognisable. Most appallingly, in this world of scant resources and hard industrial labour, the Authority insist all women should be fitted with contraceptive devices.

In The Carhullan Army, Sister, as she is known, delivers her story from the confines of a prison cell. She tells of her attempts to escape this repressive world and her journey to join the commune of women at Carhullan, a group living as 'unofficials' in a fortified farm beyond the most remote Cumbrian fells. The journey is a challenge, but arrival is only the beginning of her struggle. (source)
Warning: all the spoilers.

Read more... )

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Queer lady geek Clare was raised by French wolves in the American South. more? » twitter icon webpage icon

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