Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Reading: The Changeling

I recently read the Changeling by AE van Vogt. I know I've read it before, but I had no memory of doing so. Usually part-way through a book will start feeling familiar on a re-read for me, but not this time. The blurb on the back of the novel is completely misleading and sounds like it's about a different book.

It was a curious tale of a man with toti-potent cells, which means he can regenerate limbs and recover from usually fatal injuries. He is a person of interest to science and to politicians, notably to an aspiring dictator, the US president. One of the downsides of his remarkable ability is losing his memory, however, and in this vulnerable state he is ripe for exploitation.

I enjoyed the novel overall, but found the depiction of women bizarre. In the world of the text, some women have chosen to be 'equalised' with men. It's not altogether clear to me what exactly this drug supposedly did - increased muscle mass? The primary difference between an equalised woman and a normal woman is apparently a brightness of eye. #Raised eyebrow#

The equalised women are a gun-wielding private army for the president who has taken them under his wing since no-one else will employ them, normal women hate them and "no man will marry them". #Howls of derisive laughter, mate#

So yes, er, um... I wasn't sure whether the intention was to be funny or whether it was just a product of its time (1967). My reading of it is that there is an underlying assumption was that women in political power is inherently dangerous: Vogt didn't need to explain what those dangers were to his audience of the time, because it would be a natural way of thinking to them.


Green Mars / Kim Stanley Robinson
Blue Mars / Kim Stanley Robinson
The Changeling / AE van Vogt

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