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We Who Are About To... Paperback – March 15, 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Wesleyan (March 15, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0819567590
  • ISBN-13: 978-0819567598
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.5 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #381,065 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“This is an important science fiction novel.” —The New York Times Book Review

“One of the pioneers and luminaries of women’s science fiction!”—MS. Magazine

“If this were a film it could be one of Peckinpah’s, violent, self-indulgent, obsessively contemptuous of humanity, nihilistic and fascinating.”—Publisher’s Weekly

"Wesleyan University Press, fortunately, has seen fit to reissue [We Who Are About To...] in a handsome trade-paperback edition. ...This is an important book. Read it afresh and let it speak to you.” —New York Review of Science Fiction

Review

“Perhaps the most subtle, complex, and exciting science fiction novel ever written about the attempt to survive a hostile alien environment. It is characteristic of Russ’s genius that her most sheerly readable novel is also one of her most intellectually intricate.” (Carl Freedman, author of Critical Theory and Science Fiction)

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 29 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 25, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I was young when I first read "We who are about to..." Too young, really, to grasp the full concept of life and death, the two main currents that lie within the book.
A cruise vessel of the future manages to miss the point in space that it was attempting to fold to, spinning amazingly far off course and crashing into a planet that is in no way guaranteed not to kill the survivors. A politician, an upper class family, a "jock", a young sex object, a washed up waitress, a supposed tactical expert, and a musician (our heroine) all help make an ensemble from Hell. Nothing goes according to protocol, and chaos ensues as the musician experiments liberally with her psychoactive drugs.
While in a science-fiction setting, Ms. Russ manages to maintain a surprising lack of the technological; the underlying concept of the story being Gilligan's Island on Acid. As Social Darwinism takes its course, the value of life itself is called into question.
This is not a book for those who are set in their ideas of God and living; this is for those who remain unsure as to what lies in store for them, and what may be the meaning of life.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Laura on March 5, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read the reviews, and expected something very different that what I read in this book. I expected a angry, egotistical feminist rant. I expected thoughtless, selfish murder who knocks off everyone else simply because she is twisted and hateful. This book wasn't like that at all.

I will say, though, that the way it was written, especially in the begining, was really frustrating. The main character is making a recording of happenings, and the book is written like those recordings. The punctuation was wierd, with periods in the middle of sentences sometimes, and the whole mess was very choppy. There were side comments or sarcastic remarks in parenthesis. It got better later on, but at the start of the book, really annoying, hard to understand at times, and unnecessary. I subtracted one star for that. I really don't like to read stories that are "told" like diary entires. I want a story, not a dictation.

Spoilers are below . . .

A group of people crash land on a planet, with earth like gravity and air. There are four women, one of which is 13 or so, and three men. The social structure reverts to a male dominated one. The main female point of view, is that of the odd person out. Everyone is all geared up for survival and colonization. None of them have survival skills, the only real tool they have is a water purifyer, they have only a very basic, and minimal med kit, with a few antibiotics and such, and they have no way of testing food or water for poisons.

There is one woman who is smart and has the best survival instincts. She takes charge of finding water, after a pair of men say they are going to and then don't. Upon her return, she chastizes one of the said men for waisting bath water on the ground when it could have been recycled.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By J. Hancox on June 5, 2012
Format: Paperback
As I review this book, the average rating on Amazon is three stars, despite the fact that nobody has rated it so. This book polarizes; readers either love it or hate it. And that was Russ's intention. She did not write a feel-good book; even those who love the book are not uplifted, entertained, pleased to read it. The book is an assault on your preconceptions, your belief in life, civilization, human decency. It is the long suicide note of a deeply depressed person that the world simply will not leave alone. You are not supposed to like the protagonist; she is not a likable person. You are, however, meant to understand her. And of course there are those who don't; these people tend to decry the book as a boring feminist screed. These are probably the same people who just can't understand what feminists are so angry about - women earn a whole 80 cents for every dollar a man earns!
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Patrick Nielsen Hayden on June 9, 2005
Format: Paperback
John W. Campbell's formula for great science fiction was, famously, "ask the <em>next</em> question." That's exactly what this bracing, challenging, bleak, funny, deeply subversive novel does, elegantly undercutting decades of unexamined science-fiction adventure cliches.

Recommended for anyone who ever wanted to lay into Compulsory Optimism with a meat ax. "The human race is fine. We're just not there."
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kelly Garbato on July 4, 2013
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Caution: minor spoilers ahead. Also, trigger warning for rape and violence.

The year's 2120 (roughly), and an unlucky group of space travelers find themselves stranded on an barren alien planet devoid of animal life. Hurled there by a multi-dimensional explosion, they have little hope of being rescued, the nature of space travel being what it is: in essence, the folding of spacetime. Do it wrong and you can end up "God knows where, maybe entirely out of [y]our galaxy, which is that dust you see in the sky on clear nights when you're away from cities." (page1)

Though the planet is "tagged" - meaning that, at some time in the distant past, a team of scientists surveyed a square mile of the planet's surface and found nothing in the atmosphere that's immediately lethal to humans - it's far from hospitable; the narrator variously describes it as the Sahara, a tundra, the Mojave desert. They have few supplies - a water filter, enough dried food to last six months, a pharmacopeia of drugs stashed on the narrator's person, and the ship itself - none of which present a solution to their precarious situation, the book's futuristic sci-fi setting notwithstanding. With no way to call for rescue (assuming that rescuers could even reach them during their natural lives!) the survivors are left to their own devices. They are five women and three men.

Most of the group resolves not just to survive, but thrive: almost immediately, they set about colonizing the planet. Within days this new society devolves into an Upper Paleolithic patriarchy, the women of which are reduced to little more than baby makers, walking wombs. With the middle-aged Mrs.
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