THE SHORE OF WOMEN by Pamela Sargent


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Postnuclear romance from the author of The Golden Space and The Alien Upstairs. At first it seems that Sargent is going to tackle the thorny problems of relations between the sexes and the male drives towards aggression and creativity, but things subside inconclusively without providing any insights. Long after a devastating nuclear war, women live in heavily defended high-tech cities; men live short, brutal, savage lives outside, where they've been conditioned to worship and fear the female principle. Babies are born through artificial insemination; at about age five, male children have their memories wiped and are then thrust forth from the cities into the untender care of a guardian (usually the male parent). Though female society is stagnant, they feel unutterably superior to the brutal men whose lives they control--and stay that way by immediately destroying any semblance of civilization the men happen to achieve. Birana, unjustly expelled from her city, must struggle to survive in a world for which she is hopelessly unequipped. At first she poses as an aspect of the male-controlling goddess; later, she meets young hunter Arvil, a sensitive, caring man who befriends her. Birana, learning and toughening rapidly, disguises herself as a boy and tries to subdue her growing awareness of Arvil as a desirable mate. After various adventures--often gripping but not always fully worked out, and heavily dependent on coincidence--Birana gives birth to a daughter, whom she gives into the care of the city; and things go on much as before. An overlong yarn, with a well-handled love story and a fair share of boggy bits: a tad above average overall, and Sargent's best so far.

Pub Date: Nov. 19th, 1986
Publisher: Crown