From Reed (Thief of Lives, 1992, etc.) a story on two levels -- one far from real life, and one (we can only assume) directly connected to the author's heart. An intermittent secondary narrative informs us that K's mother is dying and that K, a writer, must construct a narrative -- so that she can offset her sadness by creating something with perfect closure. (By the end, it is clear that K. is Reed.) The resulting, futuristic narrative is diverting: It concerns the abandoned women of Schell Island, Ariz., whose husbands have for five years been away at war; the plotting by the nearby Outlaw clan, who have been displaced by the families of Schell, to regain their home territory; and the arrival of the Little Sisters of the Apocalypse -- biker nuns who wear leather and are expert computer hackers. The scene on Schell is tense: Chag, a poet and (in the men's absence) lieutenant governor of the island, is secretly hated by the beautiful, bitter chief of police, Courtney. When the Little Sisters arrive, Courtney somehow sees it as a plot. Meanwhile, Queenie, head of the Outlaws, views all the Schell women as ""walking Barbies."" There are, however, a few men left on the island -- the 4-F dirtbags Squiggy and Kitten Joe. Courtney enlists them to fight the Little Sisters, starting out by getting Squiggy to rape head Sister Trini. But Kitten Joe mobilizes his army of cats (!) to stop Courtney at a crucial moment. The fundamental idea here is that women have many ways of dealing with loss: Enforced closure (end dependency, kill the men, start over as new women) is the quickest way, but sometimes life demands a more complicated response. Though it seems intended as a bonk-you-over-the-head novel of ideas, it ends simply as a touching tribute to the author's mother, a bittersweet space-age tale on the nature of women and loss.