Saturday, January 9, 2016

Falling as she Sings by C J Sursum

Release date: January 2, 2015
Subgenre: Dystopian science-fiction

About Falling as she Sings:

What if women controlled men’s bodies?

The dystopian novel that turns The Handmaid’s Tale on its head.
In the not-so-distant future, the rise of terrorist organizations leads to a new and chilling subjugation of women. As civilization breaks down, one woman uses her wealth to build a massive, walled-in enclave, outfitting it with the technological resources to be self-sustaining.

Her one requirement: only women are allowed inside. Free of husbands and children, these women--Vestals--lead lives of culture and ease. Outside the walls, men have devolved into feral, violent Brutes roaming the wilderness. The Vestals need access to them for one purpose only—to reproduce themselves.

But Menna, a beautiful Vestal in charge of breeding, makes a disastrous mistake while extracting one captured Brute’s seed.  Disturbing interactions with him shatter her preconceptions of Brutes, and her image of herself. Ultimately, she is forced to choose between her sterile existence and a harsh, brutish unknown.

Powerful and profound, Falling as She Sings is at once science fiction adventure, spiritual thriller, and visionary love story. It’s a searching, funny commentary on the eternal, yet ever fresh and compelling forces driving relationships between the sexes.


Menna entered the extraction room, offered a stiff greeting to her assistant Tarcisia, and planted her compact figure in the center of the room.
     “All ready,” said Tarcisia, standing in a corner of the room, as if to keep well out of the way.
Menna tossed her head, sending a sheet of black hair cascading over her shoulder. Her dark eyes, impassive under hooded lids, dominated her smooth and olive-toned face. Her small rounded lips were tense around the edges, as if primed to make a harsh comment—or suppress one. She was beautiful, but she owned her beauty like a crow owns a scrap of shiny foil—jealously but with no evident purpose.
     She surveyed the room, examining each object in its turn—the padded table covered with a crisp white sheet; the extraction equipment, emitting a satisfying low buzz; the vial marked and inserted into the machine; and the controller resting on the desk. All appeared in order.
     But it wasn’t. Tarcisia never failed to disappoint—she’d forgotten the gun again. Menna tapped the side of her thigh with her fingertips, rippling the silk of her loose-fitting orange tunic. She considered her response. A reprimand would only spark an argument and stall the procedure. With a suppressed sigh, she tucked away the fault for later ammunition. There was a certain savor in the morsels of Tarcisia’s errors. She rolled them around on her tongue, ready to spit them out at her when convenient—in a charitable manner, of course.
     It was early in the day, the sun not yet risen high enough over walls of the enclave to bring any natural light to the room. The overhead fixtures gave the room a bluish cast. Standing on tiptoes, Menna opened a high cherrywood cabinet and lifted out a pistol. She turned it over in her hands, feeling its weight, and inspecting it thoroughly. Its grip was cold but heartening in its way. At least it was properly loaded. She laid it on the gleaming marble counter, its slightly blurred image reflecting back to her.
     She shifted her gaze to a small cell adjoining the room, not much larger than a closet, without a door. Inside it stood a near-naked Brute facing her, his eyes unfocused. Menna folded her arms and scrutinized him. He was average size for a Brute, not remarkable in any way. His copper-colored hide clung to his frame, defining the tendons and sinewy muscles beneath. Scratches and bruises covered his legs, and his narrow hips were covered only by the thin leather kelt provided for his brief stay in the enclave. His arms dangled at his sides, and his furry chest perhaps hid its own secrets. A long scar ran down the right side of his cheek and disappeared into a ratty beard.
     Menna’s gaze passed over his blank eyes—they were inconsequential anyway—and moved instead to the small tab stuck to his forehead that allowed her to control him.
     “Been here before, hasn’t he?” Menna asked.

About C. J. Sursum

I’ve been married for some time, and my marriage provides no end of fodder for considering the delightful, aggravating, and absurd aspects of male-female relationships. Not just how my spouse acts, but how I find myself responding. It's amusing to see how naturally I can fall into the old gender roles, while at other times acting very much outside those roles. Are men and women complementary, or opposing forces? The topic is a powerful and compelling one that never ceases to fascinate.

In any story, especially futuristic or speculative fiction, you can have a thought experiment. What would happen if women lived without men, having all the technology to do so? It allows you to imagine possibilities, to tease out eternal truths that still exist even in a world turned upside down.

Hearing so much lately about women suffering at the hands of men is what led me to write this particular story. Abuse, trafficking, denial of basic rights. And not only in other cultures—look at all the college sexual assaults and the abductions and sexual slavery even in civilized countries. What if women said, Enough is enough! But then, what would happen to men?

I hope to inspire my readers to grapple with these issues. What is the meaning of our bodies, are we really in control of ourselves, and is there meaning in the suffering we endure in our body and our spirit, especially as it relates to the opposite sex? These are interesting questions, and in any nuanced book it's the range of interpretation that makes reading so personal, and so much fun.

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