A race of women have lived in relative peace for centuries. But strange forces have come through the ages to finish what was started.
"She was a memory. She was a warning. She was everything they never wanted to remember, everything they worked hard to forget. Yet, she was their sister, and a part of their world."
The synopsis of this short but thoughtful piece of speculative fiction is simple but doesn't quite do it justice. I came across When We Were One after RAWSISTAZ tweeted that they were having a live chat with the author, Zaji.
I thought the book had a unique premise. I just had to know how such a place could exist that only women inhabited. It's through a scientific phenomenon known as parthenogenesis (a type of asexual reproduction found in females) and a derivative of the term, Parthos, is the name of the land they inhabit. The most fascinating part of this story was the dynamics of how these women related to each other and their environment. They had managed to harness a beautiful balance between themselves and nature through characteristics like "mind-talk" and being almost completely uninhibited by time. They maintain a Hall of Words which houses remaining books mostly of laws that the "sisters" find ridiculous and exemplify how humans of centuries past were intellectually bereft. An inevitable change ushered in by the late gestation of an elder is one that will put the sisters to an unimaginable test. A test that reveals the essence of their existence.
Zaji's writing is very poetic and accessible. When We Were One has definitely kept my interest piqued in speculative fiction as this genre often offers up some interesting social and political commentary. While I found its social criticism lacking in a certain cleverness, it still makes for an insightful read.
When We Were One is available as a download or paperback from LuLu.