By Sandra Newman
In her acknowledgments at the end of The Men Sandra Newman gives thanks to a number of earlier feminist SF writers who had imagined all-female societies, mentioning the names of Joanna Russ, Alice Sheldon, and Sherri Tepper. The list could have been extended quite a bit further though, to the Herland of Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Begum Rokeya’s Ladyland, or even medieval and classical models. It is an enduring fantasy.
The story here has it that all the males in the world (defined as bearers of a Y chromosome) instantly disappear one day. This leaves Jane Pearson to scramble about a manless California, reflecting on various social justice matters and whether this gender-biased version of the Rapture is a good thing.
Though there are many feminist forebears, the real presiding spirit is Stephen King, who has created many such apocalyptic landscapes. The fate of the men is also King-like, as they appear to have been uploaded to a kind of digital purgatory where they are tormented by demons. What it all adds up to though is left a bit fuzzy.
A timely parable, and that not always in a good way, The Men has already generated its share of controversy. One suspects that readers are likely to either find it too political or not enough.