Aliyah Whiteley’s The Beauty merges Invasion of the Mushroom People, literary fiction flourishes and Old-school Fictionmania for a gender bender experience best described as different. Based in a post-apocalyptic world in which all women have been wiped out my a mysterious plague, when the book starts off we are introduced to a small village composed entirely of men living in a world that has regressed technologically to a more primitive, hunter-gatherer state.
Since it is literary fiction, there must be some shimmering shrine to “the power of narrative” and so these men spend their nights gathered around a campfire as their village story teller regales them with what have become their tribal legends. Outside the town lie the graves of the last women from their group.
Enter the mushroom women. Mysteriously, mushroom creatures begin to emerge from the graves of the vanished women. They can’t speak, but they have female shapes and a kind of psychic empathy. Soon, the men began to couple with the mysterious creatures, who also take over all the manual labor in the village. The men grow weak, their arms smaller, and soon enough one of them discovers that he is pregnant.
This creates some anxiety among the men, and the story flows from there. The book certainly explores the idea of gender, and it is a different approach, the whole thing written in that literary mode meant to suggest the relating of an ancient myth. Check it out.