The Shore of Women
Oh, good holy god, that was terrible. All the reviews I can find online gush about the thought provoking ideas and ground breaking concepts, but they must have been reading a different book. Here, I sum up for you:
1. Given half a chance, men will enslave and rape women.
2. The only way for women to be safe, therefore, is to enslave and rape men, using their offspring as another way to bind them.
3. Happiness is found either in ignorance or love-against-the-odds.
It's sort of neither a defense or criticism of separatism. It's just a bland romance dressed up as a sf novel. Characters introduced at the beginning don't reappear until just in time to wrap everything up nicely at the end. Characters in the middle only exist to pound home the political points. Twice, Sargent has to go for the ol' deux e machina to keep her hero and heroine moving along, and that's just flat lazy.
SOW just failed for me on every count. It's not good science fiction. It's not good feminist theory. The dystopian elements get buried under the adventures, and the adventures are boring. It came out in '86, but it read like the mid 70s.
final thoughts: It wasn't quite as bad as Anthem, but at least Anthem was short as hell.