28 okt 2020

The Carriers by Jessica Schiefauer “is an absolutely wonderful delight of feminist science fiction”

Jessica Schiefauer’s The Carriers has been out in Sweden for a couple of weeks and it has got a marvelous reception. 

As Jenny Aschenbrenner in Svenska Dagbladet puts it:

Jessica Schiefauer’s The Carriers is an absolutely wonderful delight of feminist science fiction. It has everything you want from the genre: engaging life stories, a credible world that is only a few distinct notches from the one we already inhabit, a suspenseful plot and, to top it all off, a deeply thoughtful moral discussion about acceptable principles on which to build a society.[…]

Above all, Nikki emerges as a genuine human being, not just a ‘carrier’ of a lot of important issues. Instead, we get to know her from the inside, her body and emotions at odds with the social ideals, in an insightful and compassionate portrayal. In addition, she leaves the reader with moral questions without clear answers, gender conflicts without obvious solutions. A utopian calamity that will not necessarily lead to its opposite.

And in Göteborgs posten:

“There are utopian streaks in The Carriers, streaks that causes the treaty that opens the book to trigger a dizzy sensation, even a relieving and revolutionary feeling. The treaty is signed by all the nations in the world and flips the patriarchy over. It solves the crisis that a pandemic has brought on by giving the power to the women – and by abolishing all men.

The opening pages of the novel thereby sets an alluring chord that Scheifauer skillfully manages, both in her depictions of the women’s close relationships, and in the sense of release and freedom in the absence of threatening male violence. The instinctive feeling is also in the details, such as the holiness of the trees, the fact that no-one eats animals, and that geographical places are named Irisburg, Dorishamn, Katarina Woods and Angela’s Avenue. It reminds us that both words and actions has meaning. It beats and breaks habitual visions. It challenges, complicates and suggests the possibility of an alternative existence.

And then everything changes.

Stealthy and lurkingly, the utopia becomes a dystopia. The fear of all things male turns out not to be a thing of the past, but rather the logic that keeps the new society together. The text is increasingly urgent in reminding us that fear can maintain both stereotypes and separatism. […]

To write a novel based on linguistic oppositions with the object to challenge them is a risk. And true to her past, Schiefauer proves herself capable to avoid the traps said risk entails. She both questions and answers, longs and disenchants.”