Naomi Alderman’s “shocking” work of speculative fiction won the 2017 Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction – and for good reason. Her novel is an incredible work of imagination, picturing a world where women suddenly develop the power to electrocute people at will, “from a tiny tingle all the way to full electro-death”, says Alderman. This is enough to flip society on its head. After centuries of male control, women are now the dominant sex. The novel is a “historical” account of the time when this power first emerged, and it tells stories of women from across the globe.
Like her mentor Margaret Atwood, Alderman uses science fiction in her novel to explore deep questions about gender inequality. Despite the best efforts of feminism over the last century, sexism is still a problem in every corner of the globe. Where does it come from? And why does it persist?
‘Feminism is dead.’ Oh no it isn’t.
Hundreds of feminists will gather at a conference in London this weekend just days after the launch of the new Women’s Equality Party. Feminism is big news. But will it ever be ‘done’?
Ali Smith wins prized women’s fiction award
Since the 1990s, the UK’s prize for women’s fiction has aimed to celebrate female authors from around the world. Are women-only awards empowering or patronising?
Women should run the world, claims historian
Despite women’s liberation and the global rise of feminism, there is still a clear gender imbalance in politics. What should we make of claims that women would be better leaders than men?
In The Power, no one knows why women have suddenly developed this terrifying skill. But it changes everything. Electricity is one of nature’s most powerful energies. Humans have harnessed it to improve our lives significantly. But can we really control it? And are we too dependent on it?
Electricity chaos plunges India into darkness
Half of India has been left without power in one of history’s biggest electricity shortages. The crisis has revealed worrying truths about the creaking infrastructure of an emerging nation.
Earth hit by space hurricane as solar flare strikes
The worst solar storm in eight years has smashed into the planet’s magnetosphere, causing satellite failures and computer glitches. The upside? Things could have been much much worse.
New nuclear plant sparks furious debate
It has been called a rip-off and a security threat. But Hinkley Point C, which is set to become the UK’s newest nuclear plant, raises a core issue: should we be using nuclear power at all?
It is violence, not words, which finally gives women the upper hand in Alderman’s novel. Some of the characters do not want to use their new-found power to hurt other people. Some do. Is violence an innate part of human nature?
Europe’s women suffer ‘violence epidemic’
A shocking survey shows that a third of all European women have experienced some form of domestic violence. Mental abuse was included in the report. But is it as serious as physical attacks?
First evidence of human violence found
Archaeologists in Spain have discovered the first known victim of a fatal human attack, dating back 430,000 years. Is violence an inescapable part of human nature?
Society is becoming more peaceful, say experts
A new study says violent crime in the UK declined over the last decade, with similar patterns across the developed world. Why might modern life make us more able to live in harmony?
Who has the power in society and in relationships? Why do they have it, and how can they use it responsibly? These are questions that the novel considers by reversing the gender balance in our current society.
USA still the world’s only leader, says Obama
In his final landmark speech as president, Barack Obama forcefully claimed America as still the most powerful nation on the planet. By far. But is a ‘unipolar’ world a good thing?
‘Messianic’ Zuckerberg aims to save the world
Facebook’s profits have trebled in a year. Its founder now wants to fix health, education and climate change. Should any person have so much power? Or even dream of having so much power?
Women still blocked from corridors of power
A century after the first International Women’s Day, the achievements of women’s rights movements are impressive. But even today, there is no doubt that men still hold the balance of power.
“Speculative fiction” is a popular genre which imagines how people will live in the future. Of course, it often reveals the anxieties of the age in which it is written. So, how do scientists currently imagine humanity’s future on Earth?
The future: godlike elites and useless masses
Step one: Uber launches a driverless car fleet in Pittsburgh. Step two: machines take over and millions become useless. Almost precisely as one brilliant academic has just predicted.
Scientists hail new era of ‘motherless babies’
For 200 years, our knowledge of reproduction has been clear: sperm + egg = baby. But scientists say they may have found a way to create babies with two biological dads. Should we celebrate?
The plan to merge human brains with computers
This week Elon Musk launched a new company which will meld minds and machines. Meanwhile, a paralysed man used electrical brain implants to move his hand. Is “the singularity” approaching?