Book Review: Carnival by Elizabeth Bear

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This was a rather interesting novel that dealt with some very engaging issues that are present in the world of today. It is a tale of lovers, a tale of colonized worlds, and a tale of betrayal and prejudice. For that, it is gripping and able to hold my attention throughout.
The story takes place some time into the future after mankind has colonized other worlds in the galaxy, most of which are controlled by people known as the Governors, who seem to be a supreme logic over the common governments of the colony worlds. Michaelangelo and Vincent are two members of the Coalition military, and they are gay lovers. But in the Coalition this is shunned and forbidden. The Coalition is your typical domineering male society where anything out of the ordinary is considered taboo. But due to an inability to negotiate with the colony world New Amazonia–a place where women have become the dominant class and men are essentially slaves treated much like animals–the Coalition reunites these two men simply because they are ‘gentle’ and not like their women oppressing government. What takes place are twists and turns, people deceiving one another for the sake of political ideologies, and a slow push towards revolution.
The story is fascinating, I’ll give it that. It is not nearly as powerful as some novels I have read, but it managed to keep me interested, and that’s the most important part. It’s not entirely perfect, but well worth the read. I thought the characters acted rather well, especially under different circumstances, and the overall theme around homosexuality was an interesting one. Not only are women oppressed in one society, and men oppressed in another, but homosexuals seem to have completely similar values to the Coalition and New Amazonia. The Coalition shuns them, but at the same time turns to them when they are in need some those who might be able to think more objectively; New Amazonia shuns them less directly, instead offering ‘gentle’ males the opportunity to become ambassadors, rather than slaves.
Worth picking up for sure!

About the Author:

Shaun Duke is an aspiring writer, a reviewer, and an academic. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Digital Rhetoric and Writing at Bemidji State University. He received his PhD in English from the University of Florida and studies science fiction, postcolonialism, digital fan cultures, and digital rhetoric.

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