In this smart, entertaining sci-fi tale, conflict between men and women has reached interplanetary proportions.
Lange (We, Robots, 2010, etc.) begins her tale in the year 3011 on the planet of Coney Island, to which the women of Earth decamped when they realized, in the 22nd century, that “men just would not behave.” Coney Island is a peaceful world of vegetarianism and high culture, while back on Earth wars rage and resources dwindle. The titular heroine, though, longs for adventure; she’s a swaggering, Han Solo-type pilot who loves her wife and daughters but hates being tied down. When the men of Earth put forth a desperate plea for reunification, Tritcheon Hash is the natural choice to determine whether they’ve earned a second chance. Once Tritcheon lands on Earth, she’s drawn into a halting affair with an Earth man and a dilemma over how to deal with the rapidly, and sadly, deteriorating planet—each Earth dawn brings a display of electric lights in lieu of sunshine that has long been blocked out by a haze of atmospheric trash. Environmental and gender issues loom large, but they add purpose and direction to the novel rather than weighing it down. Though Tritcheon doesn’t come fully to life—her true desires and motivations remain elusive, which keeps the novel from packing the emotional punch that it might have—her story is well worth reading for Lange’s insightful narrative and glittering prose. The author breezes melodically through stretches of invented language—“lighterator,” “melly-melly,” “mechanobroom”—and her easy, humorous approach to profound topics (as well as her fondness for churlish artificial intelligence) is reminiscent of Douglas Adams’ work. Logical lapses and stilted dialogue crop up occasionally, but Lange’s wit and sharp sense of metaphor make up for them; of Tritcheon’s “vindictive nature,” Lange writes, “She didn’t necessarily live for revenge; she just savored it a little on cold, lonely nights.”
Against a vivid sci-fi backdrop, Lange brings a light touch to heavy material, with a fast-paced, funny story to boot.