THE VIRILITY FACTOR by Robert Merle

THE VIRILITY FACTOR

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Feminism's ultimate nightmare/dream--depending on your point of view--begins when untreatable ""Encephalitis 16"" becomes a worldwide epidemic whose only victims are post-puberty, pre-senility males. As men die out, women move into top spots (President Sarah Bedford, Premier Colette Lagrafeuille), and male survivors either become uninfectable eunuchs or take their chances as ""stags"" or, like narrator-hero Ralph Martinelli, are lucky enough to be ""P.M.'s: men worth protecting in a stag-free environment. Short, sexy Dr. Martinelli is special because his unwifely wife is a Washington bigshot and because, in his lab on Vermont's Blueville Ranch (""a deluxe concentration camp""), he's working on an E-16 vaccine. Blueville's a microcosm of the anti-male world outside, where individual freedom is an ""outmoded concept""; militiawomen secretly lust after the doctor but denounce him as an ""inveterate sexist,"" ex-whore Bella visits to collect for the sperm bank, and Amazonian Hilda Helsingforth (who owns Blueville) mixes lesbianism with calls to Martinelli for stud duty. Things look increasingly grim--old men are being raped and President Bedford has plans for spermless, cloning reproduction--until Martinelli finally discovers his vaccine, along with true love and a widespread underground of moderate anti-Bedfordists. Escape to Canada leads to Watergate-like revelations about Bedford and a compromise ending: Martinelli and his beloved

Pub Date: May 8th, 1977
Publisher: McGraw-Hill