Sue Lange,
Tritcheon Hash
(Metropolis Ink, 2003)

Tritcheon Hash has a rather dubious plot. A future where humanity has split along gender lines, with women building a utopia on an alien planet while men destroy their native Earth, is a tricky concept to handle well, especially seen through the eyes of a frenetic female test pilot on a secret mission to reunite the species. Oh yes, and it's funny.

It's amazing that any publisher, even the print-on-demand Metropolis Ink, would take a chance on a book that needs to do everything right to attract even a niche market and would have to be near perfect to move beyond that. It's even more amazing that Sue Lange carries it off, turning her slim sci-fi satire into a serious romp even ill-disposed critics will be forced to appreciate.

Any book where the female half of humanity simply decides to leave one Thursday night is bound to have some humor, and Tritcheon Hash is a very funny book. Lange delivers most of her humor with a straight face, presenting ludicrous situations and inane human behavior with such a naturalistic tone that the absurdity of the situation only hits home after a pause for thought. That dry humor never gets in the way of plot, which moves with greased speed from a stalled spaceship and across hostile planets that happen to be our own.

Any story dealing with gender issues is likely to stir up controversy, but Lange treats both halves of her poor future humanity with such compassion that it's hard to accuse her of any set agenda. While the direct narrative exalts the female civilization and paints the male ruled Earth with some despair, the characters, events and a sly running subtext manage to equalize the societies. By story's end, Tritcheon Hash does a fair job by characters who are as basically unjust to themselves as real people can be.

Tritcheon Hash is prime book-group fare, sure to spark discussion and even arguments, along with enough laughter to keep the debates from getting ugly. It's also a great, fun read, with a manically likeable heroine and a cracked future that begs greater exploration. Lange's voice is uncommon and eloquent, and I'm glad she's found a microphone at Metropolis Ink.

- Rambles
written by Sarah Meador
published 12 June 2004

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