Review of 'Maul'

Maul by Tricia Sullivan

maul.jpg The world has been changed by a Y-plague that has wiped the planet of most male humans leaving woman only able to conceive through the use of sperm from plague-resistant clones. Meniscus is one of these clones who is an experimental subject living in the Fun Park who loves nothing more than playing the immersive VR “Mall”. One day his four-walled existence is shattered by the introduction of “Starry Eyes”, an obnoxious alpha-male who appears to be naturally immune to the plague.

Sun is a young woman with her friends who gets involved in a bloody confrontation with a rival group in the Maul resulting in clashes with security as they attempt to survive the experience…and get a bit of shopping in if they can.

Yeah, it is an odd one. Not for the faint of heart, Maul is an explicit book both in the sexual sense (literally from page one) but also in it's visceral physicality. None of the characters were particularly compelling for me though obviously we are meant to be rooting for Sun to survive her shopping experience and Meniscus to survive his flatmate, mostly because the story is told from their viewpoints and not because they have any redeeming features of their own. Most of the characters are fairly one dimensional with the focus here more on their on-going searches for physical satisfaction or simply attempting to survive leaving little time for personal nuances. To be sure, woman are first and foremost throughout with men being treated fairly roughly throughout which does seem to have the book being a trifle one-sided (though I freely acknowledging that many books written are the other way around).

There are a number of amusing moments particularly with the name-checking of contemporary brands during the rampage through Maul however this is not really an amusing book though it is interesting and quite a bit different than most modern Science Fiction. It is without any doubt that Sullivan has been widely acclaimed as a talented new author with her fresh take on the genre, however, this one is not really my cup of tea because of (1) its sexual explicitness and (2) its lack of any likeable character…I like to care for those I read about. Having said all of this, I will certainly keep an eye out for her other books to see if they are a bit more…affable.

Rating: “It is OK but I have some issues”

Review Date: 2018-11-18

Genre: Science Fiction

Publisher: Orbit Science Fiction

Publication Date: 2003

ISBN: 184149108X