Reviews

We Who Are About to, by Joanna Russ

hjerteknuser's review against another edition

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dark reflective tense fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.75

this book tells a really tight, tense story, and then it ends, and then the author just keeps going for about 50 pages too many anyways

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gls_merch's review against another edition

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challenging dark reflective slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

4.25

leftylauren's review against another edition

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3.0

I feel like a lot of this book went over my head. The end of it took too long and got too attenuated for me.

tearsofthetinman's review against another edition

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3.0

Well that was an odd read......

ksj1970's review

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challenging dark sad medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

4.0

readmeup's review

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challenging dark fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

5.0

Dark little book from the 70s that feels weirdly relevant again in the ways it deals with forced birth. Loved the sparse, poetic narration and the way it challenges "survival of the human spirit in outer space" tropes. 

valhecka's review against another edition

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5.0

"Sublime" is probably philosophically incorrect but it's right in the gut.

pfeibusch's review against another edition

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dark emotional reflective slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

2.0

veleda_k's review against another edition

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3.0

A fascinating, difficult book. It makes the reader uncomfortable, but a good kind of uncomfortable.

The odd brilliance of "We Who Are About To" is that its hero is not a particularly likable person. She's prickly and doesn't try to make friends or alliances. This is one of the main aspects that makes this work as a feminist novel. Should a woman have to be sympathetic, or noble, or likable in order to control her body and her life? And I admit the cynic in me just enjoys this whole take on "stranded on a strange planet."

That said, I feel the book is strongest in its first half. The second half is absolutely necessary to the story, but I still felt that it lagged.

melihooker's review against another edition

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3.0

Joanna Russ’ We Who Are About To… is a feminist sci-fi novella, first for featuring a female protagonist in space, but more notably a woman who rejects the traditional role of motherhood. The story is focused on a group of five women, our protagonist among them, and three men stranded on what seems to be a deserted planet. It is soon apparent that in addition to being unpopulated there is no food to sustain them beyond the six months of inventory they landed with. Apart from our narrator, who is recounting their daily experiences through her vocoder, all the members of this group want to rebuild society, i.e. impregnate the women to propagate their race on this planet. For our protagonist, lack of food resources and medical equipment render this a more dangerous endeavor than it is worth. This is the conflict that drives the first half of the plot. Power dynamics are established quickly and naturally; “And in everyone’s face the flash of realization: no law.”

The second half of the story reads almost like a fever dream. Starvation and isolation blur the lines of what is real. Is our protagonist right, is a life on this planet hopeless? Or is there hope for them yet?

This is an interesting and thought-provoking story and clocks in at just the right length, slightly over 100 pages. Any longer and the plot would become monotonous.

Perhaps for its time this was groundbreaking, and it is undeniable Russ is a brilliant mind with the writing chops to back it up, but the secondary characters were noticeably dated; two-dimensional, 1960’s stereotypes that I found a little dull. That is the main reason this was a “like” and not a “love” for me. The second half showcases Russ’ talents more than the first and is the star of the book.

Still, I would recommend this to sci-fi fans as an essential read. It’s short enough you won’t have to invest much time. Whether you “like” it like me or get tipped into the “love” category Russ offers much for readers to chew on.