L. Timmel Duchamp
Aqueduct Press: 2008
Blood in the Fruit is a novel which deserves a more meticulous review than I am able to give at this time, but I also do not want the book to go unremarked on. So here we are.
Blood in the Fruit is the fourth volume on the Marq’ssan Cycle written by L. Timmel Duchamp. The first three are Alanya to Alanya, Renegade, and Tsunami. The Marq’ssan Cycle, as a whole, is a series of social and moral ideas played out in bold and clear strokes with characters actively conscious of motivation, identity, and theory. The ideas here are what is important.
As I mentioned in my review of Tsunami
This is a highly political novel filled with depth of thought. Duchamp uses dialogue and the inner narration of the characters to explain political and power philosophy. Duchamp may be a bit blunt and obvious in the handling of this political discourse, but by this point it is part and parcel of the story Duchamp is telling. She is telling a political and feminist story, and if that was going to be a problem it would have been a problem in Alanya to Alanya.
With a lesser writer this would be a flaw. With Duchamp it is simple intent and purpose, though nothing is truly “simple” with L.Timmel Duchamp’s writing.
Set some ten years after the events of Alanya to Alanya, Blood in the Fruit focuses on Hazel Bell (assistant to Elizabeth Weatherall, a major player in this series), Celia Espin and Alexandra Sedgewick (daughter to Robert Sedgewick, the primary antagonist of Alanya to Alanya, though that term does not quite convey his role in the series).
With Elizabeth Weatherall’s defection in the previous book, the ruling Executive of the United States is in shambles and fighting to come to grips with its growing ineffectiveness in doing anything to stop the “alien agenda” or protect its grasp of power, and to combat this, the formerly retired (and broken) Robert Sedgewick is stepping back into a position of clear authority. Through the eyes of his sixteen year old daughter, Alexandra, the extent of his character is laid clear. Sedgewick is grooming Alexandra, much to her dismay, to assume a greater degree of authority and power in the Executive.
While the other characters experience their own personal traumas (none moreso than Celia), Alexandra’s story is a painful bit of “coming-of-age”, shaped as it is by Robert Sedgewick.
Alexandra’s story is on the verge of being the simplest and the easiest part of the narrative, but though Duchamp tells her story in a straightforward manner, Alexandra’s “coming-of-age” is deeply problematic from a moral perspective, as grotesque in its way as anything in the previous novels – the torture of Kay Zeldin included (though, perhaps not to that extent).
By no means should one attempt to read Blood in the Fruit without having read the previous three volumes. This is almost a standalone volume, in the sense that the events of the novel can be understood without prior history with the Marq’ssan Cycle, but it is a richer story with deeper meaning if the reader has taken the full journey thus far.
Duchamp builds socio-political change in this series and does so in very stark terms. While not to every reader’s taste, Blood in the Fruit is an excellent and powerful novel. Very well done.
Reading copy provided courtesy of Aqueduct Press.
Alanya to Alanya