The Female Factory by Angela Slatter and Lisa L Hannett is the 11th book in the Twelve Planets series by Twelfth Planet Press. The series aims to showcase Australian women writing speculative fiction and has produced some stellar, award winning work over the last 3 years.
Hannett and Slatter have collaborated before, most notably in the collection Midnight and Moonshine. The Female Factory has the polish of a well practiced collaboration, where the voice of the stories is smooth and doesn’t show any seams between the two story teller’s work.
The collection is made up of four stories:
- Vox – where the souls of children that are never born are used to give voice to electronic devices.
- Baggage – in a world where the very rich are willing to pay big money for a baby, Robyn’s ability to undertake multiple, simultaneous pregnancies should be an asset.
- All the Other Revivals – a haunting story where people born in the wrong body can make a change in the waters of the local billabong.
- The Female Factory – we all know about genetic engineering and the possibility of designer babies. But what about designer mothers?
In most of the stories the collection puts a strong emphasis on fertility, and the mother-child relationship. It provides perspectives that I found fresh and very engaging. It is a mature treatment of topics that are often glossed over or ignored completely.
The writing is very sophisticated, and the authors are able to draw the reader into the protagonist’s world view effortlessly, portraying them very sympathetically while still showing the warts and all. The language is deceptively simple, while still creating imagery and atmosphere that I found compelling.
Another excellent addition to the Twelve Planets series, and one I have no hesitation in recommending.
Regular readers will know that I am an occasional contributor to the Galactic Chat podcast. Back in September 2014, one of the authors, Angela Slatter, was interviewed for the podcast. The interview was conducted by Alex Pierce, and contains some very interesting insights. You can find it here. And if that isn’t enough, Sean Wright also interviewed Lisa L. Hannett for Galactic Chat just before Christmas 2014 (the interview can be found here).
I also reviewed this book on Goodreads. View all my Goodreads reviews.
This work by Mark Webb is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Australia License.