Item description for We Who Are About To... by Joanna Russ & Samuel R. Delany...
A multi-dimensional explosion hurls the starship's few passengers across the galaxies and onto an uncharted barren tundra. With no technical skills and scant supplies, the survivors face a bleak end in an alien world. One brave woman holds the daring answer, but it is the most desperate one possible.
Elegant and electric, We Who Are About To... brings us face to face with our basic assumptions about our will to live. While most of the stranded tourists decide to defy the odds and insist on colonizing the planet and creating life, the narrator decides to practice the art of dying. When she is threatened with compulsory reproduction, she defends herself with lethal force. Originally published in 1977, this is one of the most subtle, complex, and exciting science fiction novels ever written about the attempt to survive a hostile alien environment. It is characteristic of Russ's genius that such a readable novel is also one of her most intellectually intricate.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 0.5" Width: 5.5" Height: 8.25" Weight: 0.4 lbs.
Release Date Feb 28, 2005
ISBN 0819567590 ISBN13 9780819567598
Availability 102 units. Availability accurate as of Mar 23, 2017 12:40.
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More About Joanna Russ & Samuel R. Delany
Nebula Award-winning writer Joanna Russ (1937-2011) was the author of such popular novels as The Female Man, We Who Are About To, and On Strike Against God.
Reviews - What do customers think about We Who Are About To...?
One of the best SF novels I have ever read. Jun 9, 2005
John W. Campbell's formula for great science fiction was, famously, "ask the next question." That's exactly what this bracing, challenging, bleak, funny, deeply subversive novel does, elegantly undercutting decades of unexamined science-fiction adventure cliches.
Recommended for anyone who ever wanted to lay into Compulsory Optimism with a meat ax. "The human race is fine. We're just not there."
the highly capable, depressed woman Mar 4, 2005
This is an old book, in print more than 30 years, but as it has minimal topical references it has not become as dated as some SF of the 70s. It is a gray, gloomy, depressing story that remains a downer right through the last sentence--there's no last-minute discovery of a meaning to life to redeem the book.
The first-person narrator is a highly capable, intelligent woman with loads of forethought and a sardonic attitude. If she mustered any of these qualities in support of anything positive, she'd be -- well, she'd be Alyx, Russ's better-known hero. But this is Alyx's depressed, repressed evil twin. Alyx has a wise tolerance for people who are weaker or slower-witted than she; this person has only contempt.
The circumstances are that that a few people have survived a crash-landing on a completely unmapped planet in an unknown place. The narrator instantly and clearly apprehends that they will never be rescued; they have neither the skills nor the equipment to create a viable colony; and they will probably all die of allergies to the unfamiliar planet's biota as soon as their stored food runs out -- and at best will die in squalor as their equipment wears out and life descends to the stone age. None of the others are ready to admit this reality; they cling to the hope that they can somehow survive. The guys start planning cabins and latrine systems and talking about which women should first contribute babies to the colony.
The narrator just wants to die and get it over with. And she has quick, painless poison capsules. Why doesn't she just off herself and be done with it? Well, because if she did, the book would only be 20 pages long (and not a bad thing at that). Instead, and from motives that are never clear to me, she wants all the others to agree with her, to see as clearly as she does that they are doomed. She plays games with them, out-thinking them at every turn. She leads them on and when they try to dominate her by force, she begins killing them. Having slain everyone else in the party, she still doesn't kill herself. She hangs on for many more pages reviewing her past and hallucinating conversations with the people she killed. If she achieves any insight or clarity in these pages, I missed it.
P.S. Why is Samuel R. Delaney listed on this edition as a co-author? The edition I just reread (Dell Publishing Co. paperback, printed 1977) lists Russ as the sole author, with an enthusiastic cover blurb by Delaney.
Dead boring. Mar 5, 2003
This a story of a woman being bored to death. Really, she dies of it. There are some other characters to begin with, but they're a bit boring and she kills them half way through the book. Then we're left with this murderer, and her morbid fascination with, well, death, and her slow, well, death. There's that D word again. The book's actually more interesting then it sounds, but it's still dead boring. The writing is pretty good, but really, the plot is a killer. There's nothing going on, and the murderer's morbid thoughts and recollections are not that interesting, especially as the sane reader will probably not sympathize with the one and only character offered in the second half of the book. Other reviewers seemed awed by the fact this book deals with, you guessed it, death. This book should have been killed in its infancy.
wonderfully subversive Jul 8, 2002
If I had read this book when I was fifteen, I do believe my life would have been entirely different. This is wonderfully subversive stuff, addressing all the problems any science fiction fan has with the "starship separated from civilization" plot, with a protagonist you will love to be appalled by.
For those who believe in survival of none Feb 25, 2000
I was young when I first read "We who are about to..." Too young, really, to grasp the full concept of life and death, the two main currents that lie within the book.
A cruise vessel of the future manages to miss the point in space that it was attempting to fold to, spinning amazingly far off course and crashing into a planet that is in no way guaranteed not to kill the survivors. A politician, an upper class family, a "jock", a young sex object, a washed up waitress, a supposed tactical expert, and a musician (our heroine) all help make an ensemble from Hell. Nothing goes according to protocol, and chaos ensues as the musician experiments liberally with her psychoactive drugs.
While in a science-fiction setting, Ms. Russ manages to maintain a surprising lack of the technological; the underlying concept of the story being Gilligan's Island on Acid. As Social Darwinism takes its course, the value of life itself is called into question.
This is not a book for those who are set in their ideas of God and living; this is for those who remain unsure as to what lies in store for them, and what may be the meaning of life.