Maul, by Tricia Sullivan, is a hell of a read. Well, it doesn’t hurt to start things off with an orgasm. The cover declares it to be “the new face of Feminist SF…” and, although the work didn’t come across as especially feminist, I think that having that plastered across the front might scare off male readers (even though it drew me in.)
Maul is a brilliant story, told across two intersecting yet distinct worlds. In the first, the world that would seem to closer reflect the real world, gangs of teenage, suburban girls run rampant in a shopping centre, guns ablaze. The other world, the novel’s real world, centres around Meniscus, a cloned male in a world where devastating Y-Plagues have eliminated most men, and the team of research scientists who have infected him in search for a cure. Those men who survived live in the Castellions, a system of fortresses dedicated to protecting the breeding stock, the pigs. The women who are influential enough or wealthy enough (and can you be one without being the other?) buy the sperm of the top pigs, and those who can’t end up with clones of their own, and clones have no breeding rights.
The two worlds begin to collide, as the Mall is revealed to be a computer simulation acting solely inside Meniscus’s head, a system designed to distract him from the pain of the experimental virus that is ruining his immune system and turning his skin blue.
Until a wild alpha male is dragged into Meniscus’s habitat to contract the plague, and Meniscus snaps out of his subconscious and into the world. There’s a conspiracy afoot, and in the Mall there’s a shoot-out, and the force of the law comes crashing down on the gangs.
I really enjoyed this book, and I loved the way Sullivan brought the two worlds together, and the twists I haven’t given away. Man, the thing about writing reviews is that I want to tell you all about the novels, but I don’t want to give them away. Buy the book!