Reviews by P. A. Stonemann, CSS Dixieland

Herland

by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

"Herland" and "With Her in Our Land" (this one not in Many Books as of August 2014), are more realistic than "Mizora" or most other gynotopias. Three men exploring the Amazon fall prey of the legendary women. One man scientifically studies their unique feminine culture, another is mystically enraptured by their goddess-like "perfection", and the other is a selfish bastard who tries to get his own profit. Androtopias are far less common in literature, the earliest are the "Vera Historia" (about year 150) by Loukianous Samosatens, and the "Voyage to Cacklogallinia" (1727) by Captain Samuel Brunt. Frequent use of parthenogenesis in the average gynotopia might seem a fantastic literary device, but recent research shows that homothermal species can indeed reproduce thus. Haploid chromosomatic sets are sometimes made diploid by a variety of mechanisms, which we are now beginning to understand:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parthenogenesis

Androtopias or gynotopias are often simplified in their scientific elements, for the benefit of the ignorant reader:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Single_gender_world

Reviewed on 2014.08.12

Mizora: A Prophecy

by Mary E. Bradley

A Russian lady exiled to Siberia escapes in a boat. Swallowed by a maelstrom, she falls in the women land of Mizora. The book describes that feminine paradise (poetry-heavy and with inconsistencies, mainly in the Mizoran language: it could not really have expressed ideas that are unknown in Mizora). Advanced Science gives synthetic food, parthenogenesis, no trouble at all, and everyone is a beautiful happy blonde. Gynotopias have existed in legend or literature since the Old Greeks, with the first European explorers of South America, and up to the present. Some of them may have been true matriarchies, others were tribes where men and women shared war or hunting, but most are just fantasy. Writers are often women, though not always. An incomplete English literary list is:

-Travels (1371), John Mandeville

-Mizora (1880), Mary E. Bradley

-New Amazonia (1889), 'George' Elizabeth Burgoyne Corbett

-2894 (1894), Walter Browne

-Herland (1915) -also in Many Books-, With Her in Our Land (1916), Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Reviewed on 2014.08.11

Flight From Tomorrow

by H. Beam Piper

An authoritarian ruler of the Solar System escapes a revolution by travelling to the past. He falls in 1950's North America. "Flight from Tomorrow" was published in the September 1950 issue (quelle coincidence!!!) of "Science Fiction Stories". It is one of the worst of Henry Beam Piper (1904-1964). Predictable plot, implausible in several points, with over stuffed, innatural dialogues that only are explanations for the benefit of the reader, and above all a repugnant, hateful chauvinism, such as in: "...an idealistic humanitarian nation, treacherously attacked, created the first atomic bomb in self defence...". This is the fashion in which the "patriotic" author justifies Uncle Sam's murder of three hundred thousand Japanese in August 1945. This is not Science Fiction, this is a cheap pamphlet of political propaganda. Many Books (and Project Gutenberg) offer over thirty stories by Piper. To be fair, "He Walked Around the Horses" (1948), or "Omnilingual" (1957), are much better than this rubbish.

Reviewed on 2014.06.22

The First Men in the Moon

by H.G. Wells

Two men go to the Moon using an anti-gravitational substance called cavorite. Once there, they become prisoner of insectoid Selenites. The story vividly depicts their society. "The First Men in the Moon" was published in 1901 and became a success. Wells was accused of taking ideas from "The History of a Voyage to the Moon" (Chrysostom Trueman, 1864) and "A Plunge into Space" (Robert Cromie, 1890). Wells replied that his work was original: a fantasy with some social criticism. In spite of the cavorite (for which current Science has no theoretical basis), the story is not just "a fantasy". The Selenites are NOT similar to humans, and they are organised like social insects, NOT like any known human society. The effort of some Selenite specialists at learning the human language is realistic. Wells has deeply influenced Stapledon, Clarke, Niven, Vinge, Lewis, Herbert, Aldiss, Baxter, and others. There is an active "H. G. Wells Society". He cannot be read with a modern mindset, but inside a XIX century context.

Reviewed on 2014.06.15

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