Tag Archives: biopunk

Sun-Daughters, Sea-Daughters

Post-gender biopunk science fiction novel

I received a copy of this eBook courtesy of the publisher.

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Image is of a digital book cover of “Sun-Daughters, Sea-Daughters” by Aimee Ogden. The cover is of a silhouette of a person standing underwater on the launch-pad of a vehicle.

“Sun-Daughters, Sea-Daughters” by Aimee Ogden is a science fiction novella about a woman called Atuale whose village has been overwhelmed by a disease. Having undergone gene-editing to live with her husband and his technology-resistant people on land, Atuale must return to the sea to seek a favour from the one they call the World Witch. However, the World Witch is one of many Sea-Clan people Atuale left behind and even though they have a new form, their history remains unchanged. It soon becomes clear that the only way to find a cure is to leave the planet. Faced with an intimate journey through space with the World Witch to seek assistance from other, more technologically advanced human races, Atuale must decide which betrayals she can live with.

I absolutely love this genre, and Ogden’s style and themes reminds me a lot of one of my favourite authors, Vonda N. McIntyre. Ogden hints at a huge post-human diaspora of which we see only the smallest glimpse through Atuale’s limited gaze. Atuale is a fascinating character who discards the limits of one civilisation for those of another. What she lacks in education and understanding of the broader galaxy, she makes up for in courage and determination. The World Witch is also a great character, and I enjoyed the exploration of alternative biology and the genetic ability to change one’s gender.

This is a quick book, and one that I think could have used a slightly slower pace. I felt that the tension between Atuale and the World Witch, particularly their past history, was a little rushed and I would have liked to be strung along a little more. While I liked that we see the world (and the universe) through Atuale’s naïve perspective, I also felt like the worldbuilding could have been a little more comprehensive. This is not to say that I wanted every single detail about altered human lives in the far reaches of the galaxy, but I wanted the sense that that detail did exist – even if we couldn’t see it.

A very easy and enjoyable read that needed just a bit more suspense.

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The Chrysalids

“The Chrysalids” by John Wyndham is one of my favourite science fiction books. I first read it as a kid, and it is surely one of the reasons why I love biopunk and books about genetic mutation so much. I recently came across a new edition of “The Chrysalids” that had been released together with the rest of Wyndham’s works by Penguin Books a couple of years ago. The textured cover and slightly uncomfortable, awkward artwork really capture the spirit of the book and I’m looking forward to collecting the rest of them.

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“The Chrysalids” is about a young boy called David who lives in a god-fearing community in post-apocalyptic America. His particularly zealous father preaches the commonly-held belief that man was made in the image of god, and therefore any deviations from this image are not true humans and are not permitted to live in society or to procreate. This belief extends to livestock and crops, notwithstanding the fact that due to increased radiation, incidence of mutation is very high. After making friends with a young girl who lives in seclusion with her family in the forest and the arrival of his baby sister Petra, David finds himself the keeper of many secrets – not least of which is his own.

I’m reluctant to go into too much more detail about the plot, so I’ll just say that this book is both subtle and evocative, and is a short, well-paced read. Wyndham is a brilliant story-teller and is seamlessly weaves in his commentaries about tolerance, fanaticism, fascism and eugenics. Although it was written in 1955, 60 years on it is still just as relevant and just as readable. This is by far my favourite of Wyndham’s works, and if you’re looking for beautifully-written, post-apocalyptic, sci-fi, look no further.

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