Califia’s Women

Califia’s Daughters is one of the most unique, inventive, thought provoking, dark, disturbing, pseudo-violent, feminist-based, post-apocalyptic/dystopian novels I have read in a long time, if ever.  (Goodreads review)

I wrote Califia’s Daughters back in the 80s and 90s.  My original impetus for the story was, as I’ve said here before, to push back against Margaret Atwood’s dystopian vision of women who stand and watch their power fade away, without reacting. Those weren’t the women knew.  Her women look at the threatened fertility of that society and let their money be taken, their individuality cropped, let themselves be made small, weak, and obedient.

I couldn’t help thinking that the women I knew would see that falling birth rate and say: okay, I have this power of reproduction, so what are you going to give me for it?

Also in the 80s and 90s, the idea of Eco-feminism was all the rage. The term was coined by a radical feminist French writer in a book called Feminism or Death (which pretty much says it all) but as time went on, the movement became less political and more imbued with California’s touchy-feely Gaia worship: if we do away with patriarchy, the earth will be healed and inequities banished.

Again: not so much the women I knew.

So maybe, somewhere in between? Women who were good and gentle stewards of the land, but also women who were greedy warlords?  Women for whom children were the center of their life, but also women who just wanted to beat the shit out of someone?

And sometimes, women who could that be both?

I’d be interested in what you think. If the male population were drastically reduced, would society change? Or would women step into the roles that are mostly occupied by men now, for good and for bad?

(If you’ve missed the past week or two of Califia posts, scroll down on Mutterings for some excerpts, and for earlier posts. The e-book seems to still beon offer for $1.99 through Bookshop Santa Cruz, Nook, and Kindle, though you’d like a signed paperback, Bookshop can get you one any time.

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  1. Leslie on February 5, 2019 at 2:10 pm

    I read this in the 90s now I have it on kindle. NOW it’s in ebook
    I would love to have someone read to me. It was a hard book to read then now I am different so I read it with amore jaded view. However it is a great read and I think it should be read by all political ladies as to what could be. 5stars.

    • Laurie King on February 5, 2019 at 2:19 pm

      Well, it is available in audio…
      Glad you like the story!

  2. Elizabeth N. on February 6, 2019 at 12:06 pm

    I think we would see a combination of women readily taking on men’s roles, and women who would want to stay with the status quo. Some women would come to positions of power out of necessity, but we would also see women who would wield their power to develop negative consequences. I think women running things in a women-dominated world would look similar to one today, but there would be more dialogue between opposing groups rather than war. Perhaps there would be more work toward solutions.

  3. Diana L. Paxson on March 29, 2019 at 12:59 am

    How did I manage to miss this when it came out? It should have been publicized in the Science Fiction fan community. It is interesting to compare it with S.M.Stirling’s Emberverse (Dies the Fire, etc.) novels, which also have some strong women as major characters. Also Octavia Butler’s books, and Starhawk’s two. They really form a sub-genre.
    Anyway, I loved it. I see you set it up for a sequel– any chance that will happen? I am also a great fan of the Russell/Holmes books and would like to see more, but it would be great if you could fit another Leigh Richards in somewhere.

    • Laurie King on March 30, 2019 at 10:42 am

      I’d love to, if I can ever carve out a year for writing it…

  4. Joanne Seward on March 30, 2019 at 4:36 pm

    I just read this. I had the same problem as when I first read The Beekeeper’s Apprentice all those years ago — I kept putting it down because a) I didn’t want it to end and b) I had to take a break from it when things felt too real. It was quite wonderful tho’ not what I’d generally call my cup of tea… dystopian themes are so darned depressing, especially when combined with events taking place in our world. That said, Califia’s Daughters wasn’t depressing. (As was once said in a Star Trek episode “We’re a promising species, as predators go..”) Thank you for the epilogue. If you ever do get around to writing a sequel, I will buy it.

  5. E Cadena on April 8, 2019 at 5:53 pm

    Please carve out some time to write a sequel. Need to know Tomas makes it home!

    • Laurie King on April 9, 2019 at 9:34 am

      I would love to, yes…

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