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DMS

Saturdays in Books

Reviews of speculative fiction, YA, middle grade, and graphic novels, along with stray thoughts, links, and pictures.

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The SFWA European Hall of Fame: Sixteen Contemporary Masterpieces of Science Fiction from the Continent
Kathryn Morrow, James K. Morrow

Review: The Core of the Sun

The Core of the Sun - Johanna Sinisalo

I do love a good unsubtle dystopia. In this Finnish Weird novel, the government has strictly defined gender and aligned citizen's rights based on this classification. And this book is relentless in presenting the disadvantage to women these classifications represent while not conflating those roles with the women themselves. 

 

Basically, being a woman sucks. Even if you are naturally inclined towards all the legally defined traits of "femiwomen," you're still in a population that the government subtly condones (and less subtly at times encourages) violence against. And this book is worth reading for it's conversation with violence against women alone.

 

The government, while claiming the goal is protecting the health of the Finnish people, enacts a sweeping eugenics program. And there is a prohibition on tobacco, alcohol, and capsaicin. Which is too bad for our heroine as a hit of hot pepper is all that keeps her from falling irrecoverably into depression.

 

I dug this. I usually respond poorly to heavy exposition, but this books construction totally worked for me. Short chapters rotate between first person bits, letters, articles, legal codes, text books - at one point a propaganda film. All of it is interesting and some of it is either real or only lightly modified from the real world equivalent. 

 

If I have to pick a quibble, it's that I feel like there is a bit of bait and switch at the beginning. This book opens with the main character shoving a sample of chili in her labia because "the lower lip never lies" but after that is basically chaste until around the 70% mark. Pretty minor an issue, though, as this novel has so much more going on.