Those Shadows Laugh • 2016 • SF novelette by Geoff Ryman


In an alternate Earth there exists a female humanoid race, the Colinas, which reproduces by parthenogenesis. They live isolated on an island called Colinas Bravas and experience reproduction problems because genetic errors accumulated over the generations. They call for help from a microbiologist, Maria Valdez, who falls in love with the land, the culture. and her guide Evie and brings in her foreign understanding of marriage and possession.

When the race was discovered in the late 19th century it changed Western culture – there was no WWII, no Hitler, and there would have been tons of other changes if Ryman wouldn’t have edited the story, c.f. the interview around that story. The interview was nearly more fun than the story, which was in between just ok and nearly liked it.

This feminist utopian love story modernizes Gilman’s novella HerlandThe Colinas are described as a joyous, eternally cheerful, and in many other aspects superior race lacking the need of possession. A serene Utopia with all the wondering if you would want to have the world like this. The love story didn’t work for me and clearly developed too slowly, but I liked the feministic ideas which left me with plenty of things to think about.

Meta: isfdb. Appeared in September 2016 in the Magazine of F&SF. Read in Best SFF 11.

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