Monday, June 5, 2017

Five speculative fiction books that blow away the Bechdel Test

The Bechdel Test asks whether a work of fiction features at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man. At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog Stacey Berg, author of Dissension, tagged five speculative fiction books that obliterate the Bechdel Test, including:
Ancillary Justice, by Ann Leckie

Ancillary Justice doesn’t so much pass the Bechdel test as leave it behind. The protagonist Breq and the rest of the Radchaii empire don’t care much about gender, and their language does not make distinctions between male and female. The confusion this causes Breq outside Radch space, and Leckie’s brilliant and now famous choice to use the feminine as the default in Breq’s narration, make characters’ biologic gender both a source of intrigue and an afterthought. For me the relationship between Breq/One Esk and Lieutenant Awn was the central romance of the book, and I read both characters as women. More importantly, though, Breq—at least during her time as a ship—has thousands of bodies, all part of one whole. This may make Ancillary Justice the first book in which the narrator passes the Bechdel test all by herselves.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Ancillary Justice is among Andrew Liptak's six notable novels featuring Artificial Intelligence and Jeff Somers's top five sci-fi novels that explore gender in unexpected and challenging ways.

--Marshal Zeringue