It was probably at least—oh goodness, how time flies—six or seven years ago that a young friend of mine who
is an English teacher recommended this book to me. It sounded so good, I promptly bought it, then put it in my "read these next box. And there it sat.
Then I began my project of reviewing the thirteen Dover Doomsday Classics, which filled the sci-fi slot on my Home Page rotation. Then, between
this plandemic and a number of other disastrous things that have happened in the past few years, I wasn't able to keep up on my regular reading. But now I
am, and since I have almost completed the Doomsday Classics, I decided to fill the sci-fi slot with this one for this rotation. That was a good choice! It is
far better than most of the Doomsday Classics, and it is indeed also a doomsday novel.
Even though it is not a mystery, I am going to follow my rule and cautiously only give away what I must, in order to tantalize my readers into reading this book. In fact, if you only read one book a year, make it this one. The book unrolls very slowly, and we get the information we need to make sense of it in small helpings, surrounded by the terrible hardships being endured by the heroine, Consuelo (Connie) Ramos, a poor and single Mexican-American living in New York's Spanish Harlem or El Barrio.
The story begins as Connie's niece, Dolly, desperately bangs at the door of her apartment. Her boyfriend/pimp Geraldo has beaten her up for being pregnant and wanting to keep the baby, though she swears it is his. Shortly after, he also arrives at Connie's apartment along with a "doctor" and one of his thugs to force the abortion on Dolly. In an effort to protect her, Connie hits Geraldo's face with a bottle and breaks his nose. The thug then beats her up and Geraldo has her committed to a New York mental institution, and forces Dolly to say that it was Connie who beat her up, not him. And no one at the institution will even examine her when she tries to tell them she has a broken rib. Her mouth is full of blood and her back is burned where she was shoved into the stove.
If you complained, they took it as a sign of sickness. "The authority of the physician is undermined if the patient presumes to make a diagnostic statement." She had heard a doctor say that to a resident, teaching him not to listen to patients. She had been through that last time, when she had a toothache. It had developed into a full abscess before the nurse and the attendants stopped interpreting her complaints as part of her "pattern of illness behavior."
OMG!! Does that sound like this Covid plandemic scenario, or what?
We go back and forth in Connie's life to learn about her past. A while before this current episode, Connie had begun to be visited by a human from the future named Luciente. He first appears in dreams and she wonders why she is dreaming in English. But the encounters are pleasant.
Then one day she encounters a real person whom she thinks is a man trying to get something from her, or thinks it is her imagination, because this person just sort of blinks into her reality. One day, when she is in her apartment and her head is clear, she invites him to appear, and he does.
His year is 2137, and he lives in Mattapoisett, Massachusetts. But it is when Luciente invites her to his time period and draws her close so that they can make the transfer, that Connie can feel her breasts and realizes she is a woman, which explains her higher voice and feminine qualities. Connie is no longer afraid of her. When she is in 2137, Connie gradually begins to understand that it is not her imagination and eventually she spends quite a bit of time there, as she and Luciente can now communicate through time and call on each other.
She becomes close to the people there which is a vastly different reality, one based on equality, sustainable agriculture and self-sustained communities where there is no waste, no money and a highly developed social order to ensure the rights for all members in all areas. Babies are "born" in a brooder, and each one has three "mothers" which can be either male or female, as there is little distinguishing between genders. Anyways, with each visit, we, and Connie become more informed as to why these people have contacted her and the dangers they face.
Connie is shipped to a really horrible facility based "loosely on Bellevue and other mental institutions from that period," according to Wikipedia. Their article is very good, but is a spoiler, so I strongly suggest reading it, but not until you read this review, or even better, until you read the book. The one piece of information that I almost always supply at the beginning of a review is the date it was written. I was going to give it at the end, but decided to let my readers get that information on their own, such as the Wikipedia page. There's a reason for that, which is, that you will be shocked at the date. Why? Because Marge Piercy has proven to be incredibly prescient—way ahead of her time.
At first I thought there was little I could relate to. Connie has made some bad choices that have gotten her into trouble, and she is into drugs. But nothing she has done warrants the treatment she suffers through at the mental institutions, and I know that this was the way these people were treated, in fact. So we switch back and forth between this living hell, worse than a prison where the patients are filled with so many tranquilizers that they are walking zombies. They are brutalized and abused in every way, and at first, Connie was locked in a room full of piss and shit with no one to even check up on her. Connie is not violent or mentally deranged, and had no business being there in the first place. The thing is, after hearing all these stories about the brutal way people with "Covid" were treated when the lockdowns were mandated during this fake plandemic, I suddenly realized that this type of brutality is still going on in institutions that are supposed to make people well, not kill them. In fact, as I got to know Connie, I found, that I could, in fact, relate to her in many ways and even more to the entire story, to the point of feeling creepy.
As mentioned above, I really do not want to go into detail with a novel like this because, for one thing, it is very complicated, and for another thing, this story has to be absorbed as one reads. It truly unfolds like a blossom, and when we start to "get it," that's when we realize how much of it is happening now. So I will share some quotes and tidbits, then end with a bit about Piercy. Here is her website and the page for this book, which is also worth reading.
Here's a couple more quotes to go along with the one above concerning the institution. Do I believe Piercy wrote this book based on fact? Yes, absolutely.
How long did she lie strapped to the bed? Day was the same as night. They had forgotten her and she would die here in her own piss. Sometimes she could not stand it anymore and she yelled as loud as she could and begged the walls to open. Moments were forever. She was mad. The drugs made her mind strange.
And even though she found ways to sometimes avoid the drugs, most of the time, she and all the other patients were filled with them, because they were supposedly "violent." Thorazine. And when the attendants finally do come in, they, apparently thinking she can't comprehend what they are saying, begin to mock her because she stinks from lying in her own excrement from the neglect of the hospital staff.
"She'll smell better when she gets out. You wonder how they can live with themselves, never washing. But that's part of being sick," the blond said loftily. "Probably she's been sleeping in the street, in doorways. I see them around."
Here is a bit of a description of life in 2137, which has gone back to basics. Society makes a point of
bringing up their children to be unattached. Most adults have several lovers, often of both sexes. The children have an initiation when they are about twelve
or thirteen, as Native Americans do, or did, and in fact, these people at Mattapoisett are Wamponaug Indians, although Luciente
describes them as being a "mixed bag of genes." The children are dropped off in the woods to survive on their own, then choose their own name. They do not have
surnames or IDs. Luciente's lovers are Diana, and Bee and Jackrabbit, who are men. Bee is Black, and there is also a mixed bag of skin colors. Gender and racial
issues do not exist. They maintain a steady population and when someone dies, an order is given to the people in the brooder to begin a new child.
Here is Connie's first experience in the future. All her time travel is done while she is locked up, by the way, so the two worlds present an even more stark contrast.
"It's not like I imagined." Most building were small and randomly scattered among trees and shrubbery and gardens, put together with scavenged old wood, old bricks and stones and cement blocks. Many were wildly decorated and overgrown with vines. She saw bicycles and people on foot. Clothes were hanging on lines near a long building—shirts flapping on wash lines! In the distance beyond a blue dome cows were grazing, ordinary black-and-white and brown-and-white cows chewing ordinary grass past a stone fence. Intensive plots of vegetables began between the huts and stretched into the distance. On a raised bed nearby a dark-skinned old man was puttering around what looked like spinach plants.
It seems like a utopia, but it isn't and there is a reason Connie has been contacted. But first, one more look at the hospital. Connie is now at a real hospital because she has been chosen for an "experiment." Gosh, there's that word we keep running into here in 2023. Anyways, it is a brain implant which will allow the "doctors" to have complete control of the patients' minds. Hmm. Sound familiar? Sickeningly. Yes. I made a note to myself that it sounded like what Jose Delgado did, whom I mention frequently in my articles. On the next page were these paragraphs, as Alice, who has just had the implant, is being videotaped and is now being mind/emotion controlled.
The cameraman said, as they began packing up, "That's pretty impressive, Doc. Can you turn her on and off like that every time?"
"Does the light go on when you press the switch?"
As the videotape crew left, Redding turned to his audience."Well, Sam, Chip, what do you say? Find that interesting?
Dr. Argent gave him a wry smile, hand on his shoulder. "Showmanship. Got to control that grandstanding urge. Reminds me of Delgado with his bull. You know, he has a bull charge him in full view of a crowd and then he stops it dead."
Of course now, we don't need implants or even Thorazine because we are being controlled by 5G towers, ionosphere heaters such as HAARP, and the slew of toxic substances being sprayed on us by military tankers to the tune of 50-70 million tons a year. Those of us who know about this, and our numbers are rising exponentially, often feel like Connie, fighting the "drugs" and their effects, which she is forced to take. Yes, I do indeed relate to this novel. Anyways, we learn in tiny bits the truth of what is happening in the future, and why Connie, back in her time, must try to make a difference in the direction the planet goes. Luciente and the other peaceful communities across the country are indeed at War. Here is a glimpse.
"The enemy is few but determined. Once they ran this whole world, they had power as no one, even the Roman emperors, and riches drained from everywhere. Now they have the power to exterminate us and we to exterminate them. They have such a limited base—the moon, Antarctica, the space platforms—for a population mostly of androids, robots, cybernauts, partially automated humans, that the war is one of attrition and small actions in the disputed areas, raids almost anyplace. We live with it and we believe we'll win . . . if history is not reversed. That is, the past is a disputed area."
Oh. My. Again, I will mention that the date this book was written will shock you. I wonder if Piercy had any
idea just how spot-on she was. It is more significant now than when it was written! For more about Piercy, you can read her bio on her website linked
above. Her father was raised Presbyterian but did not practice any religion. Her mother was Jewish, and it is that faith that Piercy embraced. Here is her
Wikipedia page. She has certainly led a busy life authoring many books and being an activist in several different areas. I absolutely plan to read more of her
Incidentally, the ending really left me shocked, disconcerted and a bit frustrated—not what I expected, but as I let it sink in, I realized that Piercy gives us a choice of interpretation. Is Connie really mentally ill? Were her time travels all in her mind? Did her decision make a difference for the future? These are especially important points to ponder, as we now, here in 2023, truly find ourselves on the "edge," and our choices will decide if we are to continue life on this planet for much longer. This is genuinely a novel for our time, and, despite its complicated nature, amazingly easy to read. You will zip through it because you can't put it down. Highly recommended reading.
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