The Terrorists of Irustan

Louise Marley, Author
Louise Marley, Author Ace Books $13.95 (323p) ISBN 978-0-441-00619-9
Reviewed on: 05/31/1999
Release date: 06/01/1999
Prebound-Other - 978-0-606-19244-6
Mass Market Paperbound - 340 pages - 978-0-441-00743-1
Prebound-Other - 978-0-613-29359-4
Paperback - 348 pages - 978-1-933846-37-8
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One of feminist SF's new champions, Marley (Sing the Light) creates a convincing Arab-like milieu on the desert planet Irustan, where for 300 years male colonists have extracted a dangerous living from the rhodium mines, deliberately maintaining their primitive dominant-male culture. The triple-veiled women of Irustan, virtual slaves to their men, embody far greater--though unacknowledged--courage, especially mendicants like Zahra IbSada who use cast-off Earth medicine to treat sick and dying colonists the men fear to touch. Faced with one horrifying case of wife and child abuse after another, Zahra and her fellow wives of Irustani officials wreak a powerful vengeance on their tormentors. Marley deftly skirts the potential peril of blatant propagandizing by rounding most of her male characters, especially Zahra's husband, Qatir, into plausible, if narrow-minded, human beings. She also sketches a bittersweet same-sex subplot between Zahra and Jin-Li Chung, a worker forced to masquerade as a man to escape destitution on teeming Earth. Rich with alien atmospherics and seething with issues of gender and prejudice, Zahra's dark journey into revolution offers some sensitive signposts to understanding. Agent, Peter Rubie. (June)
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