THE RED QUEEN by Dirk Draulens


Email this review


 Dystopian first novel, a bestseller in Holland and Belgium, from a popular Dutch writer of nonfiction. It clearly wasn't artistry that made this a bestseller, since Draulens hardly knows how to tell a story. He does, however, have an extraordinary ability to synthesize into a readable format scientific studies concerned with the genetic manipulation of sexuality. A disturbed, messianic, man-hating woman named Diana, who openly expresses her admiration for Adolf Hitler, has cunningly attached a mutated smallpox virus to chromosomes in such a way that only males will be affected. Except for a few who are inexplicably immune, all men die, but Diana has a brave new world to offer: women living in villages, raising their own food, loving each other, caring for their (female) children. What few men are left are tracked down by tough women riding in armored vehicles. But at the same time, the male-made technological world is quickly breaking down, most women miss men, and, worst of all, in vitro and cloning techniques are beginning to produce bizarre birth defects. Thus ``the stranger,'' the one virile man left on the planet, becomes indispensable. He's captured, and in the few passages that rank with Orwell or Huxley for sheer, cynical terror, placed in a chamber where his sperm is daily milked away. He's rescued, however, and kills the evil Diana in a rather mechanical and unconvincing climax. Still, good fiction or not, the speeches Draulens writes for Diana, though Ayn Randlike in their length, are terrific: rants about the abject historical subjugation of women; about testosterone, which, in Diana's view, has been the chief cause of war and every other earthly malady; and about the incredibly diverse sexual strategies to be found in nature. Poorly structured as fiction, but a riveting read nonetheless.

Pub Date: Nov. 13th, 1997
ISBN: 0-312-15636-7
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 1997