Saturday, August 22, 2009
Today's entry comes from Christy. Thanks Christy!
A Door Into Ocean by Joan Slonczewski
Slonczewski is a science fiction writer and a biologist. This book is not only a great example of a science fiction novel (excellent worldbuilding and fascinating biological details) but, more to the point here, it deals explicitly with gender roles and the idea that gender differences are biologically based, countering that idea with the ability of characters of both genders to change their behaviors (often in ways that are perceived as gendered).
Furthermore, this is the best fictional exploration I have ever read of nonviolent practices. The women of Shora have built a peaceful culture and, when faced with the violence of a neighboring planet, continue to maintain their peaceful behaviors. Slonczewski illustrates several major techniques of nonviolent resistance and their possible consequences.
I have taught this book in my intro-level American literature class. Some students are put off by it (whether by the SF elements, the pace of the opening, or the feminist and nonviolent messages), but many loved it, finding it eye-opening and liberating to envision a world in which gender is not necessarily the primary defining characteristic of a human being and in which violence is not the only answer.
50 Books for Problematic Times is still accepting submissions!