THE FORTRESS by S.A. Jones

THE FORTRESS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Misandry replaces misogyny in this pseudo-feminist revenge fantasy.

Jonathon Bridge was born into money, and his success as an executive has only increased his wealth and power. Cocaine binges and sexual harassment are, as far as he is concerned, perks of privilege. His one saving grace is his wife, a free spirit and dedicated journalist. When Adalia learns what her husband has been getting up to at the office, she offers him one chance to win her back: He can spend a year as a supplicant in The Fortress, a colony ruled by a society of women called the Vaik. It is her hope that this experience will cure him of his narcissism. “You need to learn insignificance, Jonathon.” The best science-fiction authors invent new worlds to use as laboratories in which to interrogate real-world problems, either to test out solutions or issue a warning. Jones (Isabelle of the Moon and Stars, 2014, etc.) does not do this. What she does instead is create a fictional universe in which it’s acceptable to delight in the degradation of men. What’s in store for Jonathon becomes clear as soon as he enters The Fortress, when he is stripped and subjected to a body-cavity search. His clothes are replaced with a form-fitting tunic that barely covers his genitals. Over the course of a few hundred pages, Jonathon will endure forced labor and sexual servitude. He will be compelled to have sex with a child. He will be penetrated by a man without his consent. The Vaik, inscrutable and lascivious, are cartoon women crafted from tired patriarchal tropes. The sex scenes—of which there are several—range from ludicrously appalling to bizarrely gruesome. The alien trappings—the strange ways of the Vaik, the imaginary plants and animals—are gewgaws, apparently intended to distract the reader from the fact that this is, in essence, nothing more than sadomasochistic porn.

Wildly unimaginative and just generally gross.

Pub Date: March 17th, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-64566-002-6
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Erewhon
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2020