**** SPOILERS ****
I am giving a complete description of the plot here, since it is both incredible and impossible to find anywhere on the Internet. I received a Kindle as a gift this year, and found Richard Calder on a list of best Sci Fi authors for the last 20 years. I attempted to purchase his book "Dead Girls" for the Kindle, but alas it was not available. I decided that a different book by the same highly regarded author might be entertaining.
Then things got weird. The plot is centered around a girl in Victorian England who is attending a fairly liberal school because her parents are Radicals. In this alternative Victorian England, it has been fairly recently discovered that in ancient times the whore-priestess of Ishtar who lived in Babylon had used their mystical sex-magic to open portals to another world and on this other planet they had built an alternate Babylon where only women were allowed. These priestess had been controlling much of our history and ruling classes since then through a powerful lust they had used to create and control the Illuminati. Or maybe not, the author does not seem to have decided if the Illuminati actually existed or if everyone just assumed it did.
The Ishtar cult has fallen somewhat in recent times. It used have as members the daughters of most of the powerful families of Europe. Now they are mostly reliant on recruiting from local schools. Additionally, they are increasingly thwarted by a group of Men who have infiltrated alternate Babylon and are run by Jack the Ripper. Our protagonist and narrator, Maddy the upright Victorian schoolgirl, has decided to join the sexual cult of Ishtar. Since she was a child she has been romanticizing the Men who oppose the Ishtar cult and longs to have them seduce her in a subconscious sexual desire to be subsumed. Or maybe she's just a stupid schoolgirl with stupid romantic ideas.
Having volunteered at school to join the Ishtar cult, and having faked the permission slips her parents were supposed to sign, Maddy makes an unlikely connection with a black girl whose family are hereditary Ishtar whore-priestesses and is presumably at the school on a scholarship. This unlikely, vaguely homo-erotic friendship grows, and the two girls run away together. They meet up with the Men and our protagonist is strongly drawn to Jack the Ripper. While traveling to alternate Babylon, Jack explains to our protagonist that he comes from a pure Aryan race who traveled from a distance planet billions of years previously and which had fallen because they had interbred with the defiled impure races. Jack makes it clear that both Maddy and her friend are included in the defiled / impure category, and that they cannot be together until she has been made pure. While he explains this, Maddy, who is frequently described as unusually intelligent, mostly because she is good at remembering what she read in textbooks, thinks about how much Jack looks like her romantic fantasies.
The girls happily volunteer to sneak into one of the oldest and largest Ishtar temples and to bring down the mystical force field so the Men could invade and destroy the temple. The only reason they appear to have for doing so is the strong sexual tension they feel for the Men and perhaps the desire to allow the Men's will to subsume their own in a romantic subconscious death-wish. Or maybe it just seemed like a lark.
Once the force field is down, the Men capture most of the girls who are there and carry them away to their Citadel. Jack tells Maddy how he discovered a new way to create portals to alternate Babylon by using the uteri of the woman he kills to create powerful magic. She seems a little upset momentarily but then he kisses her. All of our captives, including our two school girls, are dressed at their most beautiful in bridal attire, in what must have been an extremely expensive purchase of mass produced wedding attire. Jack addresses them, with Swastikas prominent, explaining how they are defiled and how women have no souls. The captives are then locked into a gas chamber type room where they are covered with mystical-chemical pink dust and thus turned into plastic Real Dolls.
Maddy continues to narrate, with her plasticized self having only a glimmer of awareness remaining. England has been transformed into the equivalent of Nazi Germany. Jack the Ripper is the Supreme Leader of the male forces who plan to plasticize all women on both planets as their immaculate brides and then, having no reason left to live, mass group suicide, thus having finally defeated the chaotic feminine force forever.
I was fairly disappointed in the book. If I had been able to find a plot summary online, I would not have needed to read the entire thing. Maddy seemed barely self-aware, and wanders from page to page mostly plastic from the beginning. Is this how the author sees all woman, or is Maddy meant to represent some kind of stupid Innocence? I see some of the concepts the author appeared to be trying to explore; the chaotic feminine desiring to be ravished by the masculine. The masculine fear of being engulfed by the feminine. The idea of "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus." The entire plot just seemed so wandering and contrived. And why bring Nazis into it? It was bizarre. So bizarre. I understand Dead Girls also concerns the gender wars, so it will be interesting to see how he has approached this topic in other books.