The Female Man (S.F. MASTERWORKS) Paperback – 11 Nov 2010
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'The Female Man is not only known as a science fiction classic but also as a work of immense significance to feminist literature' Sunday Times --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
A landmark book in the fields of science fiction and feminism.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
This novel is a modern classic in at least two categories: it's a notable sci-fi title, and an important feminist novel. But most of all it's such a typical book from the 70s!
The style is what might be called innocently modern, with a mixture of stream of consciousness, straight first person and even third person narration. The transition between perspectives is very fuzzy, often times one doesn't know which exactly of the four alternative characters (Jael, Janet, Joanna and Jeannine) is talking/being narrated. It actually reminded me quite strongly of this other 70s cult title, The Dice Man, not because it's actually technically similar, but because it stems from the same spirit of the time.
Russ concentrates on the cultural and psychological side of male dominance: and occasionally, especially when sketching little scenes of a male-female dialogue, the satirical edge is brilliantly sharp and very funny.
Ideologically, it's interesting: firstly, because it's a historical account of feminist concerns at a particular time in a particular social grouping; and secondly, because it allows us to look from the perspective of almost 40 years (Russ's book was originally written in 1970) and try to judge to what extent the concerns are still valid.Read more ›
One version lives on the planet Whileaway, where the men died off in a plague but biological sciences enabled women to share reproduction. The woman from this place comes - how we are not told - through dimensions to a version of Earth which we can recognise, where women feel status is conferred by having children and looking after their husbands. Whereas a high-achieving single woman with a PhD, many published books, sports and travels is regarded by them as a threat, perhaps from jealousy.
A wry observation is "Women have feelings. Men have egos."
Russ is making her point at the expense of a plot, because there is no real sequence of events to keep you reading, often just a randomly picked facet of one society or other, such as the lack of violent crime on Whileaway. This is telling not showing and I would have been more absorbed in the tale if we had a straight swop of habitats between two women, each to experience life as they didn't know it could be lived.
My personal favourite of Russ' works is the award winning short story, 'When It Changed,' her first visit to Whileaway. Unless you want to go down the militant feminist road, in my view you are just as well off to read that story and not worry about this book.
By the way, I'm a married female who is a tree surgeon and was an amateur national standard showjumper, with award-winning writing to my credit. I think it's better to go out and live the life you want to live rather than complain about what you can't do.
By the last chapter it was losing me but in the final few pages pulled my interest right back to see how the story would end.
I realise that my failure to even finish the book somewhat undermines my qualifications as its reviewer, but I felt I needed to warn those who like me, often forget which character is which and spend a long time scrabbling back to earlier chapters of the more disjointed sci-fi novels trying to work out what's going on.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
An interesting book, well written, interesting cover. Would read again.Published 7 months ago by penguni
Angry, justified and passionate views expressed, in a masterfully allegorical use of the "multiple world" sci-fi trope. Read morePublished 23 months ago by Scott Reid
It is a haunting novel and not only in terms of gender relations. Issues of work ethics, minorities rights, and discourse stereotypes are entangled in this evergreen text. Read morePublished on 12 Nov. 2013 by eirini
Mostly well written. The outrage of being "disappeared" because you're female comes over loud and clear. Read morePublished on 3 Oct. 2013 by Susan
The Female Man is one of the more disjointed and repetitive books I've ever read in SF. I got to the end, only just, irritated by the (at times) stream-of-consciousness type... Read morePublished on 2 Nov. 2011 by Balor of the Evil Eye
I bought this book because I read somewhere that it was a classic or that it changed the world or something like that. It had a big build up. Read morePublished on 17 Jun. 2011 by Angel House
I wanted to like this book, I really did. I have a special interest in sci-fi written by women, and I was vaguely surprised that I had never read any of Joanna Russ's books... Read morePublished on 19 May 2011 by H. Ashford