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Topic: What is the name of this book?

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Subject: What is the name of this book?
Date Posted: 12/25/2011 5:50 PM ET
Member Since: 12/31/2009
Posts: 3,995
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I just know there's a genius reading this and will know the answer.

I remember reading this story in the late '90s, but I don't know how old the story is. I don't know if it is a novel, or a longish story in an anthology. Here's what I remember of it:

There is a planet much like our own. The resident intelligent creatures are humanoid, not very different from us. Earth scientists have been observing this civilization from afar. The Earth scientists have concluded that these alien creatures are developmentally only a few hundred years behind us. They have noticed that the men have set themselves up in splendor, living in a gigantic walled palace where their every whim is satisfied. The women live outside the walls of the palace, working hard and only entering the palace for the purpose of sex. In the eyes of the Earth men, this is every man's fantasy. These males have a perfect life. But the reality is quite different, which causes all kinds of humorous confusion when the earth people finally decide to make contact.

The reality turns out to be the exact opposite. It is the women that have been running the place. They lead normal lives in their city and have housed their men in what is actually a gigantic palatial harem. These women decided years ago that men were just too dangerous and brutish, so they set up a system where the men were able to live happy and comfortable lives, while preventing them from engaging in all those pesky rapes, murders, and large-scale wars. The men are prefectly happy living their lives as breeding stock. Except one black sheep, that falls in love with a woman and decides he has to get out. And on we go from there.

 

So, ring any bells? 

Date Posted: 12/25/2011 11:22 PM ET
Member Since: 12/14/2005
Posts: 95
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It sounds like the Shore of Women by Pamela Sargent, but men roam the wilderness in that one. Not sure if it's the one you're looking for.

Date Posted: 12/25/2011 11:29 PM ET
Member Since: 12/31/2009
Posts: 3,995
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Nope. The men in this story are completely imprisoned within the "palace" from a young age. They are not educated and are silly, vain creatures. Their lives consist of little more than wrestling and breeding. Their heirarchy is determined by how popular they are with the women. The men that are chosen for mating most often are the highest in the pecking order. 

ETA: I can see that my description is making this book seem like soft-core porn. It's really not. The main plot of the story has to do with our "male chauvinist" scientists desperately trying to communicate successfully with these cosseted airheads, and wondering how the hell such stupid people ever managed to build a working civilization.



Last Edited on: 12/26/11 1:44 AM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 12/27/2011 1:22 AM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2008
Posts: 15,384
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This is ringing bells for me.  But there were so many angry feminist SF stories at one point.   And I probably read everyone of them.

Subject: sounds familiar to me too
Date Posted: 12/27/2011 8:45 AM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2006
Posts: 723
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Some of your description sounds like the garrisons of The Gate To Women's Country, by Sheri Tepper.  Except that's a post-holocaust Earth, not a humanoid world under observation from Earth.

There is also a story (~40 pages)  by Ursula LeGuin titled "The Matter of Seggri" whose first vignette seems a lot like you describe.  The other vignettes in the story episodically describe slow painful social change as the gender population imbalance becomes more closely aligned with the 50/50 human norm, after contact.

-Tom Hl.



Last Edited on: 12/27/11 10:34 AM ET - Total times edited: 3
Date Posted: 12/27/2011 4:19 PM ET
Member Since: 12/31/2009
Posts: 3,995
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Thanks Tom. I'm pretty sure it's the Ursula LeGuinn story. And as luck would have it, that short story has been published in The Year's Best Science Fiction #12, which I just so happen to own. I'll be pulling it off my shelf when I get home tonight. It was an interesting story and it has been periodically resurfacing in my brain to bug me on and off for years now.

@Emily ~ I never would have guessed you were an angry feminist. cheeky



Last Edited on: 12/27/11 4:33 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 12/28/2011 5:25 PM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2008
Posts: 15,384
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Been there, done that. There were so few female oriented SF stories when I started reading. Gobbled up Tiptree, Bradley, and all those Women of Wonder books. Just thrilled when there wasn't a big breasted alien chick. Then, finally, some less angry authors. If I had to live on Joanna Russ for years? Oh, that would have been bad. Thank you Ursula LeGuin, Kate Elliot and RM Meluch! Spaceships AND female quests.