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The Shore of Women Paperback – November 1, 2004

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Benbella Books (November 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1932100369
  • ISBN-13: 978-1932100365
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,443,671 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This unusual romance novel takes a fresh look at a familiar science fiction setting. In a post-nuclear future, women live in walled cities, controlling all technology. Men, considered incapable of complex intellectual functions, worship females as divine beings. Roaming the countryside in primitive bands, men approach cities only when summoned for purposes of procreation. At the story's center is a young woman, Birana, who is wrongly convicted of a crime and banished from her city. Birana's judges assume that her lack of strength and outdoor skills will condemn her to a quick death. She survives, however, and during her struggles meets a hunter, Arvil. Over time, Birana realizes Arvil is not a savage, and he discovers she is not a goddess. They fall in love, and together search for refuge from the all-powerful women, who fear the day when men no longer hold them in awe. Some science fiction purists may be surprised by the decidedly erotic nature of this story, but, with her luminous prose and vivid characters, Sargent (Venus of Dreams has written a compelling and emotionally involving novel.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


""With her luminous prose and vivid characters, Pamela Sargent has written a compellingly and emotionally involving novel." --Publishers Weekly

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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An excellent story that really holds your interest.
The author is wonderful the book grabs you from the first word to the last.
Book and Film
Either way, it was still a good book and a recommended easy read.
J. Blume

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Paul Frandano on July 28, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Pamela Sargent's The Shore of Women works out in persuasively anthropological detail--almost Geertzian "thick description," if you will--a post-apocalyptic world in which women rule with space-age technologies from walled citadels, exiling male children into literal stone age societies of isolated bands clad in animal skins, where lives are nasty, brutish, and short. The violence of Sargent's largely paleolithic male society is mitigated only by its loving devotion to "The Goddess" and her cult, visits to the shrines in which prayer and worshipful communion with the deity transpires, and the occasional "callings" to the enclaves--simultaneously the preeminent male rite of passage and the sole (blind and thoroughly mediated) interaction with the ruling society that enables both worlds to procreate and persist. Within city walls, the master society is strictly bifurcated into elite and masses, in which the custodians of established order replace themselves, presiding over the bought indifference of commoners.

Sargent is a beautifully expressive writer who works out the logic of her story to persuasive conclusions and, along the way, has smart, thoroughly rendered observations to make on societies of women and of men, the humanistic origins of religion, small group interactions under duress, the transformation of nomadic bands into sedentary cultures, the possible retreat of civilization from its points of greatest advancement, a variety of contemporary feminist political ideas, and more.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By D. Henderson on January 10, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I can't believe this book is out of print. I've read many of what I call 'after-the-apocalypse' novels, but this is one of my favorites. Probably long after a nuclear apocalypse, women lived in domed cities, where they carry on at least somewhat with science, society, learning, arts, etc. Meanwhile, men live much as they did thousands of years ago, roaming a desolate world and living a subsistence lifestyle. The main characters are a woman and a man, neither of whom fit the stereotypical men and women of this age. This book has been compared (and rightly so) with Sheri S. Tepper's also-excellent "The Gate to Women's Country". If this sounds good to you, find a used copy!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Avid Reader on December 16, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Pamela Sargent is a prolific writer who unfortunately does not have a vocal support group. Her novels and novellas are not of the type "This is Cronon from the planet Abuzz, stop your atomic testing of be destroyed" They are instead, intelligen far-reaching reveries on the future. In several of her stories she has extrapolated a Mulism planet but this book goes beyond that to a time we can barely fathom.
What happens when a woman in a strictly segregated society commits the ultimate sin - falling in love with a man? The descriptions of the two varying societies and their need for each other is told with a sense of disquiet. And when the lovers finally "find each other" the language approaches a confession. This is a book that can be read again and again on several levels.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By John Kwok HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on April 28, 2006
Format: Paperback
"The Shore of Women" is a richly textured work of feminist science fiction by Pamela Sargent which deserves long overdue recognition as a classic, highly literate example of the genre. It compares favorably to the classical dystopian novel "A Canticle for Leibowitz", as yet another mesmerizing tale set long after a nuclear holocaust. In Sargent's richly imagined future, men are leading primitive lives as hunters and gathers, while women reside in a technically advanced culture comprised of cities equipped with forcefields, death rays and aircraft. Sargent has melded the epic journey with romance, crafting a most unusual futuristic romance novel devoted to her main protagonists, Arvil - whose notions of what it means to be human is radically altered when he meets and falls in love with - Birana, who has been cast out of one of the cities of women. I truly treasure the author's compelling exploration of their relationship from strangers to devout lovers ever respectful of the other's desires and needs. Sargent's compelling work of fiction may be familiar to those familiar with Ursula Le Guin's beguiling exploration of gender in her Hainish series of novels and short stories, but much to her credit, Sargent has created her own fascinating futuristic world to explore the natures of love and of relationships between man and woman. I am delighted that this book is finally back in print courtesy of BenBella Books; this edition includes an excellent foreword by science fiction writer Catherine Asaro.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Sabrina Dent on September 21, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
I will admit upfront to being disappointed by this novel. I love feminist fiction and am an avid sci-fi reader, so a "classic work of feminist science fiction" seemed right up my alley and I was keen to delve into the work of a prolific novelist I had somehow managed to miss. While the book builds an intriguing world and deals with fascinating and complex sociological questions, I will admit I struggled with the pace. At 464 pages, it's a long novel, and the middle third, focused on life outside and the survival of the protagonists beyond the walls, moved very slowly. Two key stories were told, but they are mired in a very laboriously moving narrative. On the plus side, I admire the fact that while the characters were satisfyingly resolved, the over-arching problems they had struggled with remained complex and ambiguous and were not tied up in a neat heroic bow at the end.

It is a novel worth reading, but perhaps one to put beside the bedside table and dip in and out of, rather than a consuming, concentrated read.
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