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Sue Lange has two books of print published science fiction satire: Tritcheon Hash (2003, Metropolis Ink) and We, Robots (2007, Aqueduct Press). Her multi-media extravanganza, The Textile Planet, is available for free at BookViewCafe.com.
on Jan. 25, 2012 :
(Cross-posted from the Adarna SF book blog)
Tritcheon Hash is a comedy with a funny take on both space opera and feminist science fiction. Tritch lives in the all-female planet, Coney Island, as women left Earth in the 22nd century from rising levels of violence. Coney Island is a lesbian vegetarian commune utopia (which is cozier and more suburban than the one in The Female Man), while Earth has gone on with its wars, environmental degradation, and carnivorous ways. There has been minimal contact between the two planets aside from an annual baby exchange, where the Coney Island representative would hand over the boy babies in exchange for fresh-frozen sperm. But there’s been talk of reunification, and Tritch is sent to spy on the Earth men.
It’s not the kind of book that had me laughing out loud, but I grinned with every page. Tritcheon Hash pokes fun at space opera and gender tropes, but it does so in a good-hearted fashion, with the kind of humour that comes from love of the genre, comparable to the way the movie Galaxy Quest plays with Star Trek.
The flippant prose zips through pseudo-technical jargon in deadpan (“The lighterator wouldn’t be fully tested until she got into space, but it had to be checked off now, as later would be too late. Obviously. No sense in flying off into the wide-open vacuum if the ol’ lighterator couldn’t lighterate. Right?”), reveals Tritch’s midlife crisis with her socialite wife, and makes note of Earth’s strange creations (such as their leather composite food utensils—“Tiny bits of animal parts are compressed and glued together. Like how sawdust can make particle board.”).
Here’s a further taste of the book’s wisecracks:
[To prepare mentally for her upcoming trip to the other side of the Haze, Tritch took a couple of sessions with a hypnotherapist. She programmed Tritch to be able to recall everything she’d be experiencing in case she lost her pad and paper, and the subcutaneous black box recorder installed when she’d first been licensed as a test pilot failed. Then a separate therapist programmed her to forget all the stuff she’d been programmed to remember in the event she found herself interrogated by an enemy. Only a secret password would bring it all back to her. They wrote the password out in longhand, base 5, superscript cipher, on a piece of muffin wrapping paper in invisible ink, backwards, so you could only read it in a mirror, and only if a candle was placed beneath it. The password was then locked in a safe, which was plunged into five-square-feet of wet plastoset that, when dry, was guarded by a couple of six-foot-tall plants known as Penis Fly Traps.]
The quirky humour propels the story forward, but when it switches gears to its character-driven conflict, it’s surprisingly touching. Who knew that a test pilot’s midlife crisis could be so heart-wrenching, when her grand mission-of-a-lifetime brings her further away from her family? It’s the kind of conflict that doesn’t sound very exciting when I try to explain it, but when I read it, it felt like a punch in the gut (in a good way). Lange balances the comedic and serious aspects of the story excellently, and the contrast adds to the story rather than detracts from it, and I must praise her skillful writing. My only criticism is that sometimes the POV threw me off. It occasionally breaks away from third-person limited, but it makes sense with the playful prose style and intertextual quips.
I highly recommend Tritcheon Hash to sci-fi readers, as long as one expects a space opera comedy rather than a space opera adventure. Read the sample first to see if the humour is up your alley.
Note: a free review copy was provided by the author
(reviewed long after purchase)
Marilyn or Patrick Klimcho
on Oct. 14, 2011 :
Sue Lange’s book Tritcheon Hash explores the future relationships between men and women who’ve chosen to live on separate worlds, as if we don’t live that way now. The guys got Earth and the girls got… well women like Tritcheon Hash to fly their faster-than-light rocket with a lighterator and to spy on the guys and check on their “progress.” The book is a thought provoking and entertaining read for the Sci-Fi buff. I’m happy to see a flawed but capable heroine who’s in charge of her life. Good job Sue. Give us more. Marilyn L.T. Klimcho
(reviewed the day of purchase)