Saturday, July 08, 2006

Outlaw School, by Rebecca Ore

(pb; 2000)

From the back cover:

“In a gray, industro-technological future of protective shackles and slowed ideas, Jayne wants to be respectable and conform. But conformity means accepting a limited destiny and the hollow entertainments that are brutally enforced as 'news.' And to be respectable, she must gain back her virginity and give up an eye. Jayne's life is out of her control – her reality has teeth and educational drugs and binding tools – and the only cures for her growing dissatisfaction with a bleak, repressive status quo seem to be madness or legal suicide. Or rebellion. Jayne cannot, will not, be rehabilitated. So instead, she will live her life between the lines, illegally encouraging the otherness of the lowly, the renegades, the crazies, the virtual whores, as she dedicates herself to the dangerous cause of outlaw education. There are many pitfalls built into the road Jayne has chosen to walk: failure, futility, betrayal, terror, arrest, cyberia. But her courage and determination could be the catalysts for a new future.”


Addictive novel, spiritized with an piquant (if distopian) narrative, mordant smartness, and a low-key subversiveness. A societal wet dream for a Bushite extremist (that is, extreme even for a Bushite) this is – at least initially – and a nightmare for those like myself, who might see this as a too-real reflection of where our society seems to be headed.

Less moody and violent than Phillip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electronic Sheep? and less tone-chilly than Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, this is as groundbreaking (in a femininely sublime way) as the aforementioned classics, a work that gracefully transcends the usual “distopian-edge” tropes that drag so many other sci-fi works into clichés.

Worth picking up, this.

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