Have you read this book?
Satire is a hard nut to crack. Come across too serious and you can alienate an audience that might not get it. Come off as being too far out there and it can end up being silly. The best satire extrapolates the normal to outrageous extremes while making it sound perfectly logical and natural. Lange takes current perceived differences between the sexes, combined with a healthy dose of tree and animal hugging, and ends up with a novel that walks the satirical line with 99% success.
Some undefined years into the future, women finally decide they’ve had enough. They pack up on starships and over a few decades leave men behind to a resource poor, polluted, and war- and sports-ridden Earth. Embracing activities such as aromatherapy and vegetarianism, they settle on a distant planet they name Coney Island, where they end up with a society that epitomizes the antitheses of the aggressive male-dominated culture they left behind. They remain in contact with Earth, since they’ve yet to discover the secret of artificial sperm, and to return those male babies born on Coney Island.
Tritcheon Hash, the main character, is a woman in love with speed. Her job is to test new faster-than-light ships, zipping out to the end of the cosmos and back in the blink of an eye. She’s unhappily married to an upper echelon socialite wife with whom she has two children. On the surface, it appears she has everything, but within her lurks a core of dissatisfaction that even she can’t explain. She’s also haunted by an experiment she participated in as a youth in what passes for the Coney Island military academy; a group of women students and a visiting contingent of male students were tossed together to see what happen. The results, thanks to the Neanderthalish behavior of some of the men, were less than successful.
But lately there have been rumbles of reunification efforts in the secret recesses of the government, and the residents of Coney Island decide they need to scout the enemy. Tritcheon is recruited and zaps off on a clandestine mission to Earth to see if men have managed to evolve out of their wicked, meat-eating, leather-wallet-carrying, sports-loving ways.
Lange writes with an undeniable energy and a Gibson-like use of slang that rings true. Though the energy and slang diminish somewhat as the story progresses, the book is never dull and is oftentimes funny. Characterization is top-notch, and the heroine faces an interesting and personal dilemma, since she ends up running into a man she had a fascination with during the brief time the female and the male students were together.
Lange’s level of craft is high and the story never lags. There are instances where she provides insightful and funny (if exaggerated) observations on male/female relations and the different attitudes and habits of men and woman. In the beginning, the average male is humorously depicted as immature, aggressive, uncultured, and incapable of integration into a civilized galaxy. But near the end, the joke suddenly isn’t a joke any more, and that’s where I think she made a mistake. The final message of the story seems to be that the satire of men’s foibles isn’t really satire at all and that women are better off without them.
Despite my dissatisfaction with the way the book ended, I highly recommend it.