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The Terrorists of Irustan by Louise Marley
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The Terrorists of Irustan (original 1999; edition 2000)

by Louise Marley

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185563,896 (4.08)33
Member:owen1218
Title:The Terrorists of Irustan
Authors:Louise Marley
Info:Ace (2000), Mass Market Paperback, 352 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****1/2
Tags:novel, science fiction, feminism, resistance, women's studies, oppression, feminist fiction

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The Terrorists of Irustan by Louise Marley (1999)

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Showing 5 of 5
Tiptree longlist 1999 ( )
  SChant | May 10, 2013 |
Marley does an excellent job of setting up a horribly claustrophobic society in which women are veiled, sheltered, set aside, property. Through an interesting quirk, the women are also the healers, and the men want nothing to do with dealings of the body. It's this prejudice of the men that Zahra is able to exploit to make her statement and do what she can for the women around her.

That said, it's a flawed book. The two women of Zahra's circle in the worst domestic situation are the two married to much older men. (If this were a society already moving toward change, this could be understood, but the society is portrayed as more-than-static, this is one carved in stone with artisans coming back from time to time to reinforce lines dulled by wind and weather.)

The relationship with Jin-Li is also troublesome. On a whole base of Earthers stationed there to handle import & export, only one person bothers to understand Irustani customs? Only one culturally sensitive person, and yet this person develops a fascination with Zahra, a fascination that seems to be heading in a sexual direction. Then we find out that Jin-Li *spoiler* and the whole thing just seems shabby. Yes, this puts Jin-Li in a position to be even more sympathetic, but again, someone has to be in a situation like that to see customs and to empathise with the damage they cause? It didn't have to be "on-screen"; it didn't have to go into great detail. It could've been covered in Jin-Li's thought process.

Overall, the book is good, a good read. But it could've been better. ( )
  GinnyTea | Mar 31, 2013 |
I really enjoyed this enormously. It may be heavy handed, but I just loved so much about it that I was willing to let that pass. The idea that a fundamentalist Muslim population would be recruited to work a particularly difficult mining planet in exchange for having their own world, preserved from outside influences - its so interesting. And the way that the society develops and gets stuck and how the women start to resist, oh I just like it! ( )
  bunwat | Mar 30, 2013 |
Irustan is a strange place. A distant planet where things are much different. Men are free to dress as they like, go where the please, and treat their wives however they feel like without repercussion. The women are suppressed, wedded against their will, and forced to hide every inch of their flesh in public, no man is allowed to see them. They are not allowed to speak, or to show interest in anything but their husbands. So...I guess, it's really not so different after all. This might technically be a science fiction novel, but you could just as easily pretend it takes place in the middle east.

Zahra is a medicant. She treats the women who come to her clinic covered in bruises, with broken bones, as they shake with fear with their husbands looming in the next room. She does this objectively, this is how things are, she is 'just a woman,' what is she to do? She heals, but she cannot change the way things are. But when her friend's daughter is to be ceded to a man who has killed 2 of his previous wives, Zahra realizes something must be done. With fear and determination, she commits a single act of terrorism, and this act will reverberate across all of Irustan.

Now, I was raised by a single parent - my mother - who worked hard to support two children; myself and my little sister. I am the last one to harbor sexist beliefs, but I admit I do have a hard time reading feminist literature. It is far too common for all men to be portrayed as sexist pigs, slime and scum of the earth, vile stupid morons who are barbaric and disgusting and who enslave women or beat their wives. Naturally, I'm defensive. It's hard for me.

The Terrorist of Irustan is not one of those novels. The author represents both genders with positive and negative characters, there are respectable men who respect their wives alongside those 'scum-of-the-earth' types, and there are those poor women shackled to the discriminatory customs of this prejudice-ridden society who are aligned with women whose murderous rage is simply frightening. This added a sense of realism to the book, and really helped the novel hit home for me.

This, in addition to the plot, made for what must be one of the best books I've read this year. It was simply amazing, wrought with fear, sorrow, desperation and ultimately, hope. It is a tale of oppression, and the desperate acts that must be performed to change the misguided traditions of a secluded group of people. Anyone, regardless of gender, should have no problem connecting with the book.

This was an emotional read for me. At times I wanted to break down and cry my heart out and other times I wanted to raise my fist in triumph, and it is made all the more intense by the real-world implications it caries. Louise Marley has written a truly remarkable book, and I'm happy to have read it. 5 stars, and fully deserving! ( )
14 vote Ape | Sep 2, 2010 |
"On Irustan...the Book of Second Prophet painstakingly details the proper way of being. Despite space travel and advanced technologies, men are the absolute decision makers." A futuristic take on the suppression of women. Many authors have written post-apocalyptic stories on the regression of women to first class status. Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale" was especially chilling since the protagonist remembered what it was like "before." However, in many parts of the world this is still the reality and Marley takes us to a future where it continues on.

Obviously drawing on the culture of many present day Arab countries, Marley gives us the story of a woman doctor, Zahra, who must make the fateful decision to kill to protect those she loves. Well developed characters and a tragic tale make for excellent reading. Highly recommended. ( )
  jshillingford | Jul 17, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0441007430, Mass Market Paperback)

In this brilliant novel from the author of Sing the Light, a talented medicant defies the rule of men-and changes the lives of every woman on the planet.

"A dark, richly imagined tale...a thoughtful meditation upon the dangers of fanaticism and the strength of the human spirit."-Sharon Shinn

"Rich with alien atmospherics."-Publishers Weekly

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:23:40 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

A group of women in space resort to terrorism to combat male abuse. It happens on the desert planet Irustan, a mining colony where women wear veils and are treated as slaves.

(summary from another edition)

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