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The Book of Joan

by Lidia Yuknavitch

A post-apocalyptic story with a strong feminist stance. Even if it’s not to your taste, bear with the sexual references and language in the first part, which recurs intermittently throughout the book. I found the story very well worth reading, if challenging. It might help if you have some knowledge of the stories of Joan of Arc and Christine de Pizan but it’s not necessary.

Extract

Through the wall-size window, I can see a distant nebula: its gases and hypnotic hues make me hold my breath. What a puny word that is, beautiful. Oh how we need a new language to go with our new bodies.

I can also see the dying ball of dirt. Earth, circa 2049, our former home. It looks smudged and sepia.

A fern perched in the window catches my eye. Well, what used to be a fern. I never had a green thumb, even those long years ago when I lived on Earth. This fern is mostly a sad little curve of stick flanked by a few dung-green wisps; it wilts and droops like a defunct old feathery cock. Its photosynthesis is entirely artificial. If it were allowed the 'sun' we’ve got now. Without the absence of adequate ozone layers, it would instantly die. Solar flares irradiate us daily, even as we are protected by STEs¬- 'superior technological environments,' they’re called.

Parallels

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
 

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