We Who Are About To… by Joanna Russ
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
A spaceship goes off-course and crashes, leaving a handful of survivors, and all but one of them are determined to survive. That one, the narrator, knows they’re all about to die. She’s shrewd, perceptive, and has a lively voice, but she is also unstable, impulsive, and unreliable.
The first half of the novel recounts her interactions with the others, and it does so stylishly and well. The second half is her stream-of-conscious reflections and ramblings about the life she is about to lose. In the introduction, Samuel R. Delany calls the second half the best part, and some other readers agree, but I’m on the side of those who thought it was a bit too New Wave. It adds to the story, but only a little, and it goes on for far too long.
I treasure other works by Joanna Russ. This one is genius in the first half, but the second half doesn’t work for me. I’m glad I read it, but if I ever re-read it, I’ll only read the first part.
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