[LMB] Why we need Bujold

Heather Harper harpingheather at gmail.com
Tue Sep 17 15:02:13 BST 2013

I've been listening to "The Great North Road" by Peter F. Hamilton and I am
struck by what a complete male writer he is.

In his world of 2143, humanity has smart cell suites that monitor your
health and essentially turn you into a walking smartphone. There is genetic
manipulation that makes those children born with those engineered genes age
one year for every ten (but conveniently don't kick in until age 17) and
they have almost completed complete cellular regeneration as a
life-extension therapy (heads up for Mark, eh?). There are star ships and,
more impressively, gates between worlds. You can literally walk from Earth
to True Jerusalem or New Florida if you want.

And yet in this world, apparently a woman (who has gold star health
insurance) can still "fall" (his word) pregnant.  This pregnancy is also
mostly described in terms of how fat it made her and its negative impact on
her and her husband's sex life. It's all given to the reader through the
woman's thoughts so it could just be her own particular worldview, except
all the women characters who are in the context of a relationship are
described in terms of their attractiveness. Two of them (which is about
half, depending on bow you're counting) are specifically described as
surprisingly or amazingly beautiful despite the years and kids and how
lucky their middle-aged and going-to-pot husbands feel. (Not exact quotes
but not reading between the lines, either. It's pretty clearly spelled out.)

At one point one woman (ironically the more or less main one who "fell"
pregnant) even vents her frustration that "in this day and age, old, rich
men are still exploiting young, beautiful women.". I'm not sure why she is
surprised; I see nothing that has changed. In fact, it seems to have gone
backwards, since most women in the developed world today who have access to
money and health care also have birth control, yet birth control is never
mentioned in the book.

Peter F. Hamilton seems to be one of those writers dear Mr. Cook would
approve of, who consider women only as wonky men and doesn't stop to think
about how women might use some of this incredible technology or what
different technology women might develop, beyond armor, weapons and etc.

So three cheers for Lois McMaster-Bujold and her ability to see beyond the
cool technology and into how it might affect people on a personal level.
Not to mention remembering that humanity has more than one viewpoint.

My two marks,

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