HH Com 453

Imagine a world where, through selective sex abortions, the rampant spread of HIV, and warfare, the population of women has fallen dangerously low. There are only a few women to every thousand men; those who are still alive are assigned four or five or even six husbands to make up for the shortage in a strictly regimented, heavily authoritarian society.

Now imagine a woman who refuses to be part of this system: who lives on the edges of this world, in an underground Sanctuary made up of the few women like her who remain unregistered and hence officially do not exist.

But they emerge from their Sanctuary at night. To provide a service that only the very rich and the very fortunate can afford: to sleep, through the night, with a man in his bed, providing him with intimacy and attention that almost seems like a myth in this day and age.

(your hook starts here)
Sabine is just such a woman. Intelligent, rebellious, beautiful, and independent; her most attentive client, Joseph, wants to possess her in every way possible, and will visit havoc on her body and her life in order to own her. Julien, the sensitive, emotionally damaged doctor who falls in love with her, struggles with accepting his feelings for a woman who represents everything he is never supposed to have. Can Sabine navigate through dangerous waters and the desires of men, and find her way to freedom and safety?

Interesting premise but when something is very rare, people generally take VERY good care of it, thus wrecking havoc on a woman isn't logical. Also, HIV infects men and women both so it's not something that would diminish the number of women disproportionately to men.

You need to be focused and specific about the story. You've got the set up, and world building but not much else.


Anonymous said...

Hey, the law of suply and demand makes women valuable? and we get polyandry?
Can I sign up?

M. Takhallus. said...

Two other logic flaws; wars tend to deplete male population not female, and if numbers of women began to drop that noticeably the number of sex-selected abortions would as well. After all, the mommies would presumably have a voice in the abortion, especially in a world where they were a rare commodity.

It looks like a long, tortured path to reach a sexual fantasy.

Shannon said...

Also, this pitch sounds semi-similar to "The Handmaiden's Tale" by Margaret Atwood. As that book is one of the most prominent dystopian books and by a not traditionally SF author, you want to make your world particularly distinct from hers. Additionally, why would there be selective-sex abortions? Where is your book set? I know the lack of women because of selective-sex abortions is a problem in China right now, although not to that extreme, but you need to specify place/culture to make this pitch make sense.

Anonymous said...

Sorry I can't imagine a world with a 300:1 male to female ratio due to selective abortion, HIV (sex neutral at best), and war (male specific). Women would get valuable long before that ratio. I can if there was a virus, maybe related to HIV, that that specifically targets female sperm.

So she doesn't want to be a wife to five or six men but chooses to be a hooker? Five or six men aren't enough?

Bella Stander said...

It's wreaking havoc, not wrecking. And I agree with Shannon, though it's THE HANDMAID'S TALE. Also, if breeders were that scarce, surely those clever guys would invent droids to service them, and/or devise a way to even out the population by making all women have multiple births.

(Going back to reading EATS, SHOOTS & LEAVES...)

MWT said...

It's much worse in India, which doesn't have the strict laws against the practice that China does.

However, I read recently that they're finally noticing some value in the women. In that, famillies with women will refuse to allow the daughter to marry unless the prospective groom's family can provide a daughter of their own in exchange, for their son to marry. I suspect that the next logical step down that path is for the culture to change, and stop placing so much disproportionate economic value in having sons.

Back to the hook. I'm thinking that you could leave out the HIV thing entirely and not affect the rest of the story. Possibly leave out the warfare too, if you're trying to have lots of men and few women, rather than the other way around. Then, explain why there are selective sex abortions - cultural problem like in China and India? Something else?

Also, in a polyandry, I think what would happen (at least in some cases) is that the men take turns sleeping through the night with the one woman.

Angus Weeks said...

Given several logic flaws in your hook (which may be answered in your novel but understandably you haven't space in a hook to detail) you might be better approaching the hook for such a novel in a different way.

Don't start with the world and then narrow down. Instead, start with Sabine and move outwards, mentioning the world-building bits as they relate to your main character's problem and the conflict in the novel.

Anonymous said...

actually, it sounds like one of the "Sliders" episodes in reverse.

Anonymous said...

The book is set in the middle eastern/asian region, where the ratio of girls to boys has already dropped low enough that in some vilages in Nepal, one wife is shared amongst several men. From research into today's hotzones in this region, it is women that suffer from the effects of warfare not related to actual combat; such as in Iraq where women are being abducted and killed on a daily basis. And it's well known that in places like India, the women are the ones opting for sex selective abortions given the stigma of delivering a female child. But that aside,\you're right, though =- the story isn't really developed yet. Thanks~

writtenwyrdd said...

Read Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. Scariest story I've ever read. The movie wasn't bad, either.

Also, selective sex abortions are not needed as part of your hook. The Chinese ran into a problem because just spinning a test tube of sperm will separate them into X and Y varieties. They can pick boy or girl that way with pretty good chance of success.

I found that selective sex abortions and authoritative society didn't mix for me. Total disbelief on my part.

Anonymous said...

In "Night of the Triffids", one of the social solutions for species survival is to place three women with each man, making each family unit triply fertile.

Putting five or six men with one woman doesn't make the babies pop out any faster, it just makes happier men.

Given the situation you describe, I can see a lot of bachelors, a lot of whores, and a lot of women cranking out children (by one man or, for genetic diversity, one man per year) as fast as they can.

If it takes that much explanation to make your story make sense, maybe you need to wonder whether it does.

ObiDonWan said...

But they emerge from their Sanctuary at night. To provide a service that only the very rich and the very fortunate can afford: to sleep, through the night, with a man in his bed, providing him with intimacy and attention that almost seems like a myth in this day and age.

gender confusion, or just a sentence that needs rewriting?

Anonymous said...

Read A Hundred Years after Beatrice by Amin Maalouf - fabulous book, with a story about a bean that's discovered that allows a woman to choose to have a male child - however, after that, she can ONLY have male children. In the US, a woman sues the distributor of the bean, and succeeds in having it regulated in industrialized countries, which manage to keep their sex ratios about equal - but in the third world, this doesn't happen, and the societies spin out of control. Fabulous, fabulous book, one that's more about north-south relations than gender relations. Still, it's along the same premise as the idea you have here.

Anonymous said...

A note to the above anon: I went looking for that book in my library and found it as The First Century After Beatrice. Just, you know, in case anybody is trying to find it and gets tripped up on the titles of different translations.

Anonymous said...

Joseph = J + 5 letters
Julian = J + 5 letters

Turn one of them into an Albrect or Roberto so we can tell them apart.

So long as China has their one family, one child thing going, there are going to be millions of orphaned females available for decades to come. Tragically.

Anonymous said...

If women are that rare they are going to stop the sex abortions and cherish women children. In those situations it's doubtful the women use much birth control and so their population goes up because more girls are born than boys. It's nature's way of preventing the human population from disappearing.

Anonymous said...

It's much easier for a woman to contract HIV from unprotected sex than it is for a (straight) man, for fairly obvious reasons. The fact that most of the commenters here weren't aware of this suggests that you need to explain this in your hook, or even leave this bit out.

Anonymous said...

and another thing...

Personally I wouldn't subscribe to Miss Snark's theory that a shortage of women would make men suddenly come over all gentlemanly.

So, in short, I really liked this one.

Anonymous said...

So, Sabine's rebellious and beautiful and perfect etc... and what she does that's so worth reading about is have sex?

Not very impressive. She could at least write books or paint or build houses or something interesting.

If this is a romance, I see why people might like such a premise. For a SF or fantasy novel, no way.