Your Humble Blogger had been waiting for months to get hold of a US copy of The Power, Naomi Alderman’s award-winning spec-fic novel. And I finally got my paws on it and read it all on that day, staying up past midnight to finish. It’s a remarkable, extraordinary, magnificent book. You should all read it. Everyone should read it.
I’m not sure what else to say about it. It’s about, well, it’s about power. And gender, and society, and fear.
Gentle Readers who are reading this within a few days of my posting it (October of 2017) will probably have been aware of the #metoo conversation, in which (among other things) a truly large number of women posted that that they, too, had been the objects of sexual harassment or abuse. Men posted as well, of course, in smaller numbers. Some posted details of some of their experiences, others didn’t. It was, as usual, enlightening. It was, as usual, disheartening. It was, as usual, infuriating. It was, as usual… usual. I mean, if feels to me, at any rate, as if every few months there is another round of this conversation insisting that yes, the actual experiences of an overwhelming number of women really have occurred. Then we agree to forget about them for a while, pretend they don’t exist, and make no changes in the construction of our society that might mean—not even that the sheer quantity of sexual harassment, assault and abuse would decrease to only being an occasional and unexpected outrage, but even that might mean that men would not be surprised, this time, to learn that these things happen to people they know.
In The Power, Ms. Alderman presents a classic-science-fiction style what-if: adolescent girls discover that they have an electric-eel power to discharge a shock from their hands. For most of them, if they choose, a powerful shock. Power enough to kill. Power.
Have you just imagined how different the world would be if touching an adolescent girl’s skin risked a painful shock, possibly a deadly one, if she wanted it to be. Think about what it means, about our country, that it would make such a difference. Expand that thought to the world.
The book starts from there and goes on.
We start from here and go on.
Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,