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Billy Crusoe seems to view the world lightly but she's got serious problems with the way the inhabitants of earth are hell-bent on destroying it. The novel opens with Billy about to be exiled to a planet being prepared for colonization before the earth goes kaput. She's a rebel who is one of the last owners of an organic farm in a world that prides itself on not only reconstituting most food in chemical form but also is very close to reconstituting the DNA of humans who wish to be ageless, beautiful and just perfect! Imagine wanting to be a teenager to stop one's philandering husband from pursuing much younger woman - tongue in cheek for sure!
There are numerous references to starting over from Robinson Caruso's heroic adventures, including a flashback to 1774 in which Billy travels to Easter Island with the famed Captain Cook's band. What is about human beings that just can't see the forest for the trees as even here they cut down all the trees to fashion their stone gods? Billie realizes they destroy their God-given earth to attempt to get closer to their imagined gods - situational irony in the extreme but typical flawed human style.
We then are returned to post-war (WW III) in which we have another flashback of how Billy was separated from the mother she loved, indeed adored. Technology has taken over human reproduction and mothers and fathers are an anachronism to be jettisoned. Indeed independent human thought, feeling and goal-oriented living are just passe. Everything is planned by the "authorities" and it is clear that Billie's hunger for connection and love is deep and unshared by her medicated and inebriated earthling friends.
At first the reader will think that Billie falling in love with a robot is just plain silly, even stupid! But the conversation that flows from their evolving romantic relationship envelops the reader into a curious fascination, for Spike is more than just a hunk of metal who is programmed to automatically respond in word or deed. This is, for this reviewer, the most out-of-the-box portion of this novel that makes it very special. Spike and Billie communicate beyond the trite to the touching, essential and vibrant realities of living that soar far above survival, the book's repetitive theme, to transcending technology and touching the stars, replete with poetry, music and more!
The Stone Gods is an unusual but dynamic read that is a must for science fiction lovers or those who just dabble therein! It's fresh, bright, complex and surreal! Nicely done, Ms. Winterson!
Reviewed by Viviane Crystal on May 19, 2008