Anna MacDonald reviews 'The Fortress' by S.A. Jones

This speculative novel is of the Zeitgeist. S.A. Jones imagines a civilisation of women – the Vaik – committed to ‘Work. History. Sex. Justice.’ Although they live apart, in ‘The Fortress’, there is a history of exchange between the Vaik and the outside world. All women are entitled to Vaik justice if they have been violated and, according to a treaty that includes ‘biological guarantees’, Vaik are ‘granted access to men and sperm’. Thus, The Fortress accommodates men: national servicemen; ‘isvestyii’ who, having committed crimes against women and girls, are sentenced to life (and death) at The Fortress; permanent residents; and ‘supplicants’. These men work – in the fields, the kitchens, etc. – and must consent to the Vaik ‘direct[ing] the uses of [their bodies] at all times’.

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Published in May 2018, no. 401