Woman on the Edge of Time & He, She and It, by Marge Piercy

Second paragraph of third chapter of Woman on the Edge of Time:

Already her lips were split, her skin chapped from the tranquilizers, her bowels were stone, her hands shook. She no longer coughed, though. The tranks seemed to suppress the chronic cough that brought up bloody phlegm. Arriving had been so hard, so bleak. The first time here, she had been scared of the other patients—violent, crazy, out-of-control animals. She had learned. It was the staff she must watch out for. But the hopelessness of being stuck here again had boiled up in her two mornings before when the patients in her ward had been lined up for their dose of liquid Thorazine, and she had refused. Pills she could flush away, but the liquid there was no avoiding, and it killed her by inches. She had blindly fought till they had sunk a hypo in her and sent her crashing down.

Second paragraph of third chapter of He, She and It / Body of Glass:

Thus, dear Yod, the story I am about to leave you in the Base is not the way I told it to my child Riva or to my child Shira or to Shira and Gadi when they would sit on their haunches like little frogs, all bug eyes and appetite. I am recording this story just for you in the nights of my ash-gray insomnia, when my life feels like an attic full of boxes I have put away, things once precious and now dusty and half forgotten but still a set of demands that I put it, all of it, in order and deal with it, as bequests, as trash, as museum to set open to the family or the world. This is a time of beginnings and endings, of large risks and dangers, of sudden death by mental assassination. It is also the time my sight is failing again, and this time it cannot be repaired. The darkness of night apes the darkness I dread, and sleep is the lover I fear perhaps more than I truly desire his soft warm weight on me.

Somehow these came to the top of my reading stacks simultaneously, which is a nice coincidence. I thought they were both really good.

Consuela Ramos, the protagonist of Woman on the Edge of Time, has been committed to a psychiatric hospital for striking out against her niece's abusive pimp. But she finds herself in telepathic communication with a utopian future society where the 1970s are regarded (rightly) as days of dark depression. And yet the future utopia is also fragile and has its own threats (which stops it from being too rpeachy); meanwhile the horrible experiments performed on Consuela by the doctors threaten her mental survival. I think the last books I read involving telepathic time travel were Jack London's Star Rover and Nevil Shute's An Old Captivity, but the protagonists there go backwards rather than forwards.

He, She and It is more dystopian. We are in the near future (to 1993); the Middle East has been destroyed in a war, global warming and pollution run rampant, and corporations control all aspects of life for those who accept the security of living in their communities. Our protagonist, Shira Shipman, flees a nasty divorce in one of the corporate burgs to a Jewish free town, to link up with her robot-building mentor; meanwhile a parallel narrative recounts the story of the Golem of Prague. I generally really hate stories with cute robots, and the android here is not just cute but sexy. But it's far from being the entire point of the story, which involves identity in several different ways, and also is based in really effective world-building and characterisation of the various relationships. Apparently Arthur C. Clarke himself was rather pleased that it won his award, though it is pretty far from Clarke's own style.

Woman on the Edge of Time was my top unread book acquired in 2016 and my top unread book by a woman. Next on those lists respectively are Robot Visions, by ISaac Asimov, and The Bean Trees, by Barbara Kingsolver

Under the British title Body of Glass, He, She and It won the 1993 Arthur C. Clarke Award. The runner-up was Red Mars, by Kim Stanley Robinson, which won the Nebula and BSFA Awards and which I reviewed here. Third place was shared between Correspondence, which I haven't read, and Hearts, Hands and Voices, by Ian McDonald, which I like very much. The other shortlisted books were Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis, which won both Hugo and NebulaStations of the Tide, by Michael Swanwick, which also won the NebulaDestroying Angel by Richard Paul Russo and Lost Futures by Lisa Tuttle, neither of which I have read. (Can there have been any other year when three Nebula winners were on the Clarke list, with all of them losing?) The Tiptree Award winner for that year was China Mountain Zhang, by Maureen F. McHugh, with Correspondence, Lost Futures, and Red Mars again on the shortlist.

Next up in my award-winning sf novels sequence are the three winners of the BSFA, Clarke and Tiptree Awards made in 1994 for work of 1993: Aztec Century by Christopher Evans, Vurt and Ammonite. I have read the last of these, but many years ago.

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