The Gate to Women’s Country by Sheri S. Tepper

The Gate to Women's CountrySo, this story is a classic. A groundbreaking novel. Are some parts familiar because they’ve been copied so often? There are quite a few twists that were really new, but perfectly logical in-story. Also scary, such logic!

Stavia is a middle-aged council woman, her son is 15. In alternate chapters, she’s aged 10-22, and we see her growing up.

In this dystopia, men and women live separately. Women are inside the walled cities, while men live right outside the walls in their garrisons. At Carnival, its meetup & party-time. Girls stay with their mothers. Boys live with women until they are 5, and then are handed over to their warrior fathers. At 15, they have to decide if they will be warriors or citizens. Women who don’t want to be citizens can be Gypsies outside the walls..

So far, this division seems pretty standard for a male-female split. Then new information dribbles in, and we see that there are some unsuspected but important currents flowing under the tranquil surface. Especially food… Warriors have to fight, so when there is a drought or other reason for a bad harvest, warriors get the same allotment of food while the women inside the walls make do with less. Fair! But secretly there are other ways of evening out the food supply…

All boys go to their fathers. But during Carnival, a woman might sleep with several men. How do they know? When a child is 5 he goes to his father, and visits Mom twice a year until 15. Then Moms tell their sons they are always welcome to come back through the Women’s Gate… and most sons are offended at the idea of not being warriors. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

Little clues are scattered around, some subtle and some clue-bricks, that Things Are Not As They Seem,, and some people on the council are making some really tough decisions.

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