Califia’s Daughters

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Published by: Spectra
Release Date: 2004
Pages: 496


Only the elders of the Valley remember life the way it used to be…when people traveled in automobiles and bought food others had grown. When the male-to-female ratio was nearly the same. Before the bombs fell, and a deadly virus claimed the world’s men.

Now civilization’s few surviving males are guarded by women warriors like Dian. When an unexpected convoy of strangers rides into her village, it is Dian who meets them, ready to do battle.

To her surprise, the visitors come in peace and bear a priceless gift, whose arrival is greeted with as much suspicion as delight. It is up to Dian to discover their motive, in a journey that will cost her far more than she ever imagined, a journey from which she may never return.


"What kind of civilization would we have without men?  A short-lived one, for starters.  How about a civilization where women outnumber men eight to one?  That is the question 'Leigh Richards' explores in her new book and science fiction debut….  Califia’s Daughters is about the nature of human society or, more accurately, the nature of several possible human societies, after such an apocalypse.  These societies are surprisingly familiar.  Whereas in our current society and history, it has always been men who have carried the burden of inflicting violence upon the world; in this new society, women are more than willing to take up the slack.  Men themselves become an expensive commodity, requiring protection and incurring a burden for the women who are wealthy and powerful enough to know and/or possess them.  Califia’s Daughters is a fun-to-read adventure and a thought-provoking challenge to generally accepted ideas about what it means to be female.  The characters come to life and leave the reader, at the end, wondering what became of them.  It is well worth the time to read; and a sequel would be welcome."

"In the not-so-distant future 'Richards' envisions, women warriors guard their peaceful, self-sustaining California enclave, hunting, planting, harvesting, and keeping watch over the men and boys essential to survival after most males perished along with electric power and fossil-fuel-driven engines…. An engaging adventure in which Dian must make a hazardous journey to investigate the northern dangers."


Read Laurie’s thoughts on writing Califia’s Daughters on her blog, Mutterings.


It had taken nearly two hours for the quiet to settle, for sentries to set out and the livestock to be rounded up, for the menfolk, the pregnant and nursing mothers, and the girls under fourteen years of age to climb to the caves. When they were finally away, Judith and the others looked at one another, and went off to their tasks. Judith’s job in theory was to be available when someone needed instructions, but in practice what it had meant was waiting and chewing her lip, sitting on the front steps of her house while her fingers worked their way through a heaping basket of dried beans.

Now she could hear Dian’s voice from behind the head-high corn, speaking words of praise and encouragement to dogs and horse. As Judith walked past the remnants of the farmhouse’s picket fence, they rounded the final corner, the horse at an easy trot, barely sweating. The dripping dogs, tongues lolling, spotted Judith; the brindle broke into a run to greet her, while big Culum satisfied himself with a wag of the tail from his place at the horse’s side. Dian quickly whistled the young one off and gave them both the signal for “home.” The dogs obediently circled around Judith, looking somewhat apologetic at their muddiness, to lope on up the hill toward the cool and shady pond behind the old barn.

Dian dropped off next to Judith, and the two women started up the road to the barn, leading the horse.

“They’re coming, then?” Judith asked, although it was not really a question.

Read the full excerpt