The Mad Scientist's Beautiful Daughter has her own TV Tropes page and now she has her own novel. Cassandra Rose Clarke, author of the YA adventure fantasy The Assassin's Curse has written a book where familiar science fiction stories are viewed through one woman's life. The Mad Scientist's Daughter is not for everyone — I suspect some fans might actually hate it. But it raises such good questions about the future, and the nature of science fiction storytelling itself, that it cannot be ignored....Possibility? More like certainty. Women's equality won't survive another 50 years. It may not even survive another 20. No ideology as fundamentally in conflict with biology, science, sexuality, and reality itself as feminism can hope to survive even the amount of societal influence it has achieved. It is a parasitic ideology, and as such, is not capable of providing a basis for a sustainable society.
For all that the book seems deep in conversation with many earlier science fiction books, it also seems to be trying to get to something in a certain brand of feminist retellings. Cat is a weaver and tapestry maker, an art form that has been disregarded as women's work. Artists and museums have recently begun to re-position weaving and tapestry as an early form of pixilated representation, noting the link between Jaquard looms' punch cards and early computer programming. Cat may be surrounded by cyberneticists, but she has taken up the simplified and distaff form of mechanical programming. There is also something of Betty Friedan's Feminine Mystique in Cat's unfulfilling life as a housewife. The suggestion is that feminist thought and advances may be fleeting.There is a host of books, particularly fantasy, where female characters grasp at a certain type of modern feminism from decidedly non-modern settings. What most of us don't want to consider is that societal pressures, the liberal use of force and threats from within families and institutions, could turn feminism into just a phase that dies out. We'd like to believe that our current system of liberal values is so obvious and natural that once introduced, it would come out on top. The Mad Scientist's Daughter presents the possibility that women's equality might not even survive a few hundred years.
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
A belated realization dawns
The grand visionaries of science fiction are gradually becoming aware, one by one, that their shiny sexy equalitarian scientopia isn't necessarily in the cards.