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Recommended by [community profile] papersky.

This is one of two books I've read in the last year or so that would have cheered me up immensely as a teenager. As a young teenager, I went through a stage of reading all the feminist theory and especially all the feminist science fiction I could get my hands on-- not that I've stopped now, but for some while that was all I read. I had access to portions of Joanna Russ, and portions of Delaney and Tiptree and Atwood and of course Woman on the Edge of Time and The Gate to Women's Country and Djuna Barnes and Monique Wittig (whom I managed to get through in French, I couldn't do that now) and a lot of other things, and I was reading all this second-wave theory like Shulamith Firestone. It was a really enlightening and helpful and foundational and depressing year, because I had all this rage that I was suddenly noticing. Feminist dystopia, feminist utopia, feminist ambiguous utopia: I found it all distressing in about equal measure at that time. There are many books I read at that time in my life that I love profoundly and several I almost have memorized, but they have always been books that were, well. I defy you to read, say, The Two of Them and not be very upset about it for a while. (Fortunately I did not have access to Joanna Russ's On Strike Against God until the middle of 2009. That book might well have killed me when I was younger. I have enough trouble with it now.)

Then early last year I wound up running into Naomi Mitchison's Memoirs of a Spacewoman and Solution-3, and I treasure them both, because they are unambiguously in the specific genre of feminist sf and they have serious and impressive intellectual debate and they are, for me at least, comfort reading. They make me happy. They are books I find joyous. Disturbing stuff in them, sure, but overall joyous.

Elizabeth Vonarburg's In The Mother's Land reminds me profoundly of Solution-3, including the comfort-reading. So that is awesome. (It also reminds me of the Mitchison in general societal structure and especially a couple of really quite specific things about parenting.) Man, I wish I'd had it as a teenager. It was out then, but I never ran across it.

This is a long, complex, well-plotted and beautiful novel that must have given the translator fits in some places. )


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