CARHULLAN ARMY PDF

Shelves: fiction , sf-dystopia , award-james-tiptree-jr In the dystopian future of Carhullan, the greatest injustice inflicted on the people by The Authority is that women are forced to have contraceptive implants to prevent population growth due to the extreme food shortages. I suppose back in this might have seemed like a far-fetched dystopian idea, but nowadays an end to human reproduction is a policy enthusiastically supported by many activists who caper around our streets, glue themselves to trains, and wotnot. Forced contraception is the In the dystopian future of Carhullan, the greatest injustice inflicted on the people by The Authority is that women are forced to have contraceptive implants to prevent population growth due to the extreme food shortages. But it makes you think: why are there so few men escaping the Authority like the women of Carhullan? Or co-operating with it? Is it Anglican?

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Civilisation slumps. The Thames bursts its barrier and floods the Palace of Westminster. In the ensuing civil reorganisation control is ceded to the Authority, a nondescript dictatorship in thrall to the US. Reduced to tinned food and rationed electricity, Britain dispatches ever more troops to the wars in China and South America. Rehoused cheek by jowl in the "terrace quarters" of decrepit and depleted towns, millions submit to an exhausted existence of cordons, curfews and censorship.

Contraception is compulsory; reproduction regulated by lottery. In Penrith, now called simply Rith, a narrator who refuses to tell us her name toils at a factory building wind turbines for the year recovery plan: turbines that stand in silent ranks in the warehouse, never to be deployed.

The narrator calls herself Sister. Stern, murmurous protests against the folly and injustice of modern life, they typically enclose us and their sacrificial heroines in a tunnel of pessimism to focus our eyes on an eco-feminist light glowing faintly at the end. Believing that point should come sooner rather than later, Jackie Nixon, Cambridge graduate and ex-commando, has set up her female separatist commune at a derelict farm on the Cumbrian moors.

They also shave their heads, stockpile arms and equipment, train for hand-to-hand combat in the gorse and take eight-mile runs in the rain. Over the fetid gloom of Rith brood the dark moors and fells, thrusting through the soft verdure of the lowlands like primeval, inescapable truths.

Everything is earthy, nothing idealised. Hall makes her survivalist women properly foulmouthed and uncouth. Jackie Nixon herself is a splendid creation, ablaze with the schizoid, lacerating intelligence of a guerrilla messiah, or warrior queen.

Muscular as her writing is, Hall still seems to prefer commentary to drama. Her analyses go on and on, muffling plot and character. When volunteering anew for an army that has rejected her once already, Sister reflected: "Deep down I had thought myself unusual, perhaps maligned with some kind of unnatural antagonism or need for leadership, for wanting to act in a way I had been programmed to think was wrong.

The plot ends prematurely too, with a skip and a gory blurt, as if overcome with despair at the inevitability of the outcome. What she has given us is good, though: tough, thorny, bloodyminded.

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Hall is unflinching, yet sensitive, in her anatomisation of the psychology of survival, but she draws back from describing bigger events, in this case the final climactic battle, skipping straight to its aftermath instead. Excelsior is always a good motto. Dystopian fiction is in vogue. This is a grim, uncompromising novel, unrelieved by either hope or humour. Just as she gives her central character no name, so Hall allows the reader no chance to identify with her emotionally. Her account is detached and dispassionate, written in prose as crystalline and craggy as the landscape, its unexpected usages - "jeoparding", "prideful" - lending it weight. This is a violent novel, strange and unsettling.

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The Carhullan Army: a near-future struggle that feels all too close

Civilisation slumps. The Thames bursts its barrier and floods the Palace of Westminster. In the ensuing civil reorganisation control is ceded to the Authority, a nondescript dictatorship in thrall to the US. Reduced to tinned food and rationed electricity, Britain dispatches ever more troops to the wars in China and South America. Rehoused cheek by jowl in the "terrace quarters" of decrepit and depleted towns, millions submit to an exhausted existence of cordons, curfews and censorship. Contraception is compulsory; reproduction regulated by lottery.

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