Marghe's suit was still open at neck and wrist, and the helmet rested in the crook of her left arm.
–Nicola Griffith - Ammonite - c.1992
Change or die. These are the only options available on the planet Jeep. Centuries earlier, a deadly virus shattered the original colony, killing the men and forever altering the few surviving women. Now, generations after the colony has lost touch with the rest of humanity, a company arrives to exploit Jeep–and its forces find themselves fighting for their lives. Terrified of spreading the virus, the company abandons its employees, leaving them afraid and isolated from the natives. In the face of this crisis, anthropologist Marghe Taishan arrives to test a new vaccine. As she risks death to uncover the women’s biological secret, she finds that she, too, is changing–and realizes that not only has she found a home on Jeep, but that she alone carries the seeds of its destruction. . . . (blurb from Goodreads)
I’ve been meaning to read more by Nicola Griffith for a long while now. I loved Hild so much, and really enjoyed The Blue Place. This is Griffith’s first novel, a science fiction story set on a planet without men. And it is a really good book, the world building is great and the characters are so so good. Marghe, one of the main protagonists, is an anthropologist, out investigating the societies that have evolved on the planet Jeep.
But she is also uncovering a lot about herself and her personal demons and fears.
If you like character driven stories then I would highly recommend this book.
It is also brilliantly written, almost straight from the first page I was engrossed and wanted to know more. More about the characters, more about the places, and more about the cultures and societies of Jeep and of the soldiers now trapped there.
I also wish Griffith had written a sequel or some sort of a follow up to this book. It ends with a resolution, but there are also a lot of unanswered questions and details I’d love to find out more about.
But there is lots we do find out about, maybe not the exact details, but the broad strokes. And we certainly learn a lot about the current circumstances on Jeep. The realities of living a life that is not working, how change is utterly necessary, but also feared by many. And with good cause, because change brings about the unknown, and who knows where that will lead.
It is also a book that I think would stand up well to a reread. There is a lot going on in it, and a reread might bring some more details to the fore. But I’ll have to get through Griffith’s other books before going back for a reread, if only I had more time…