An apocalypse society where only men are left till the discovery of mushroom women, sounds ridiculous but the story is really enjoyable. It’s fantastical but there are realistic interpretations of how most people would behave, with shifting alliances as they discover more on the mushroom women. The portrayal of these creatures (The Beauty) is interesting as they can’t speak but passing images and emotions mentally, which jog the men’s memories and all they ask for in control is sex and control (the two things men want most). There are several other gender nods my favourite being cider comes in jars now as men stereotypically can open them but this also has a darker connation that they can get away with this as women not around. Indeed the portrayal of apocalypse is made more realistic by points like the cider and everyone calling each other by first name as there is no point in family name since family will be over soon. This story as well as being engaging with a great structure of four short parts each ending on a strong hook is also well written with concise description and a unique narrative point, that of Nate the story teller. Nate’s stories are woven into the narrative at different point and demonstrate how stories can achieve all sorts of things from unity, entertainment, to hope and propaganda. One last positive before I focus on aspects I didn’t enjoy as much is the ability of the author to bring us into the world and let us draw our own conclusions and imagine what paths we would take in similar circumstances.
However there are several things that could have been better, but these could be rectified if the book was larger like part 4 for instance which deals with outside world should be expanded. Also the divisions in camp could be more explored; perhaps rival storytelling time could be set up.
Overall this was a really engaging novella, with several gender references and an amazing apocalyptic world. I look forward to reading more from the author.