Like all of Jones's work,
Life demands -- and amply repays -- close reading. In addition to writing
well about the thrills and tedium of scientific research, she manages
to be both clinical and lyrical in describing her characters' exploration
of their sensuality.
The lives of biologist
Anna Senoz; her husband, Spence; and their university friends intertwine
as they evolve from idealistic students into adults with concerns that
may affect their world. When Anna discovers a curious genetic trend
with implications for the human sexual identity and gender relations,
she finds herself a pariah among her colleagues. This latest novel from
British author Jones (Divine Endurance) portrays a near future of commercial
globalization in which gender discrimination persists in subtle ways,
forcing biology to find a way to fight back to equalize the sexes. Beautifully
written and elegantly paced, this story conveys bold speculative concepts
through intensely human characters. Deserving a wide crossover readership,
it is highly recommended for both sf and general fiction collections.
Jones' prose is deeply
engaging, drawing readers fully into her near-future setting. Anna is
a well-drawn protagonist, one who inhabits a role usually reserved for
male characters in SF: the obsessed scientist, willing to make big sacrifices
to unlock the mysteries of life.
If you are ready for something
beyond ray guns and rockets, with a taste of the real world and a touch
of science fiction, try Life; it will take you to a world you thought
Life is a novel that poses
the quintessential question: what does it mean to be human in the twenty-first
century? Sex, science, the limits of love, and the struggles of individuals
seeking to find meaning in their own lives, in a future world so close
to our own, set the stage for a dramatic play of human emotions and
the crushing press of ruthless events. Highly recommended.
This is an ambitious, focused, unblinking troublemaker of a book in which some ambitious young people meet as university students and then twine and branch together and apart throughout their adult lives, in a near-future world of globally contracted professionalism and commercial science. Our heroine struggles not to make waves about the levels of more or less subtle sex discrimination she suffers while she pursues, erratically hot and cool, clues to a genetic shift that is already, quietly, transmuting our current gender conflicts and perhaps all of society into something new. Her obstreperous friend and alter-ego, meanwhile, pursues explicit feminist goals as a world media star and flamboyant political activist.
Along the way hearts are broken, people stumble into social experimentation while just trying to get along, and both allies and enemies spring up in unlikely places. The flavor is mainstream literary in the meticulous and dense observation of the details of daily life. But the axis of the story is a central question of science fiction (as speculative inquiry rather than adventure-romance): what will it take to end social gender inequity -- and what will it cost?
Handsomely done, a strong
and serious exploration, with convincing people you come to care about
and high, very high stakes.
"Handsomely done, a strong and serious exploration, with convincing people you come to care about and high, very high stakes..." Suzy McKee Charnas