Chercher La Femme

L. Timmel Duchamp. Aqueduct, $19 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-1-61976-147-6
Aqueduct editor Duchamp’s concentrated and demanding examination of what’s accepted as “self” is cleverly and convincingly presented as a simple piece of science fiction. Diplomat Julia, a member of a socialistic human society known as the Pax, is the head of a mission to a far-off world, La Femme. The mission’s primary purpose is recovery of the first ship sent to make contact with La Femme’s inhabitants, though further diplomatic advancement is planned as well. Julia is distracted from the mission objectives by her deep analysis of her life thus far and the utopian ideal she lives by, particularly when she deals with her splintered crew. What she and her crew find upon arrival is enough to shake them all. Duchamp (Stretto) makes abundant challenges to gender norms and raises questions of what constitutes alienness, and the novel’s humanistic approach and unwavering commitment to Julia’s frank introspection go beautifully with a precisely detailed world. This thoughtful tale bears rereading and contemplation. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 06/25/2018
Release date: 08/01/2018
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