Stylish Apocalypse: Storm Constantine’s Wraeththu Trilogy

  • Val Gough


The opportunity afforded by science fiction and science fantasy to envisage post-apocalyptic cultures is an attractive one for any writer interested in imagining post-patriarchy. Storm Constantine’s Wraeththu trilogy (1987–8) is a notable example of the way that the fictional depiction of ‘mankind’s funeral’ (I, pp. 140–1)1 can be used as the means to challenge a range of dominant cultural assumptions to do with gender, sexuality and subcultural values. Constantine replaces the familiar motif of sudden ecological or nuclear disaster with a less quantifiable but no less devastating apocalypse: ‘Not the final sudden death we all envisaged, but a slow sinking to nothing’ (I, p. 10). Like other female science fiction and science fantasy writers concerned with the implications of patriarchy, Constantine sees the causes of the ‘funeral’ residing in man’s own gender dominance: ‘Man burned himself out from within. He had no balance; without it he perished’ (III, p. 247).2 Across volumes entitled The Enchantments of Flesh and Spirit (1987), The Bewitchments of Love and Hate (1988), and The Fulfilments of Fate and Desire (1988), she depicts the extinction of men — and the survival of women — in a twenty-first-century world increasingly dominated by hermaphrodite mutants called Wraeththu.3


Science Fiction Taboo Word Cultural Style Tural Resistance Youth Subculture 
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Val Gough

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