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Thread: West of Eden

  1. #1
    bachelor tom's Avatar
    bachelor tom is offline Established Member
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    West of Eden

    by Harry Harrison. Part of a trilogy (I haven't read the sequels).
    I could have mentioned this in Kim's thread about books but I thought because of its gender themes I would talk about it separately.

    From Amazon reviews:
    As we know, sixty-five million years ago something happened and the ice age occurred. All the dinosaurs became extinct, and the age of the mammals began. The premise behind this book asks the question: "What if history had been different? What if the reptiles survived to evolve into intelligent life?"

    This story tells the tale of the Yilane, a super-intelligent form of dinosaur, and the Tanu, another name for Humans. The Yilane live in cities, are intelligent, and have an incredibly structured hierarchy. They are also a completely matriarchal society, ruled solely by females and where the males are only used for breeding. They have taken genetic engineering to a whole new level. Everything they need is engineered from a living organism to something of use to them. This includes their weapons, their transportation, and even the trees they live in [but no fire]. The Tanu on the other hand, are more nomadic, living in small villages. They move to find food and plentiful hunting, and return to the cold mountains in the winter months.

    There are a lot of different topics that Harrison explores in this book. He has created an incredible new world with a new language and many new species. The politics of the Yilane and their desire to rid the planet of the Tanu makes for a great story, albeit one that we have seen in our own world. There is even a faction of the Yilane, called the Daughters of Life, that protest against the destruction of other creatures.


    The battle between stone-age patriarchal humans and technologically superior matriarchal dinosaurs was scary, and not a little resonant with men who visit sites like this. The dinosaur males are literally "out to stud", restricted in enclosures with no freedom or education. There is even a rape scene where a human male is taken by a dinosaur female leader, ugh.
    Feminism = Fear + Flattery

  2. #2
    Marx's Avatar
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    Re: West of Eden

    It would be interesting to see such a scenario unfold... how did the technology come to be when the gender with the majority of inventors are unable to be educated and penned in?

    Thank God it's only sci-fi...
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  3. #3
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    Re: West of Eden

    I would like to read that it could be very interesting to see if the story ends with a masculist movement that screws up the lives of the females or if it sticks with the matiarchy and everything is fluffy and good.
    Chevalier.
    "no greater love hath a man than to lay down his life for his brother."

  4. #4
    bachelor tom's Avatar
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    Re: West of Eden

    Quote Quote from Marx View Post
    It would be interesting to see such a scenario unfold... how did the technology come to be when the gender with the majority of inventors are unable to be educated and penned in?

    Thank God it's only sci-fi...
    The dinosaurs use no technology we would recognize, no fire (they're terrified of it), but they have 'machines' and 'vehicles' that are all genetically modified organisms. For example they use a rifle that fires poison darts, but the 'rifle' is actually a modified snake or lizard. Similarly they have large dinosaur fish they use for ocean travel. By contrast the humans only have stone age tools and weapons, but they're more adaptable to changing conditions.

    Socially the female dinos are acutely sensitive to social cues. If shamed they simply curl up and die. The males are kind of jolly even though they have nothing to do.

    The author may have been making a comment about how the N American natives saw the European invaders. But for me the gender stuff was the most fascinating.
    Feminism = Fear + Flattery

  5. #5
    bachelor tom's Avatar
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    Re: West of Eden

    Quote Quote from chevalier View Post
    I would like to read that it could be very interesting to see if the story ends with a masculist movement that screws up the lives of the females or if it sticks with the matiarchy and everything is fluffy and good.
    At the end of the first book the N American humans manage to drive off the dinos back to their home in Africa. I believe the sequels continue their conflict, but I don't know how it all ends.

    I enjoyed this novel because it brings together dinosaurs and N American natives (I think they were sort of Caucasion in this story). I always liked imagining what this continent was like in the old days. I liked Last Of The Mohicans too.
    Feminism = Fear + Flattery


 

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