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Encyclopedia > Consider Her Ways

Consider Her Ways is a science fiction short story (possibly a novella) by John Wyndham, regarded by some as his best short story. It was published as part of a collection of short stories called Consider Her Ways and Others. Science fiction is a form of speculative fiction principally dealing with the impact of imagined science and technology, or both, upon society and persons as individuals. ... This article is in need of attention. ... A novella is a short, narrative, prose fiction work. ... John Wyndham (July 10, 1903 - March 11, 1969) was the pen name used by the apocalyptically oriented British science fiction writer John Wyndham Parkes Lucas Beynon Harris. ...


The story begins with a woman who has no memory of her past waking up and discovering that she is a mother of some description in a bloated body. After some confusing experiences her memory gradually returns and she recalls that she was part of an experiment using a drug to see if it enabled people to travel through time. She also realises that she is in a society consisting entirely of women, organised into castes, who have never heard of men. Eventually she meets an historian. It seems that the narrator is in a society around 100-150 years in the future from her own time (this is not explicity stated but it can be deduced from one comment in the story). The word Caste is derived from the Portuguese word casta, meaning lineage, breed or race. ...

Shortly after her own time a Dr. Perrigan was carrying out scientific experiments which unintentionally created a virus that killed all the men in the world, leaving only women. After a very difficult period of famine and breakdown of industry the small number of educated women, found mainly in the medical profession, took control and embarked on a crash programme of research to enable women to reproduce parthogenetically (without a man). The women also decided to follow the advice of the Bible: "Go to the ant thou sluggard consider her ways", and create a caste-based society. The narrator returns to her own time and decides to stop Dr. Perrigan. The Bible (From Greek (τα) βιβλια, (ta) biblia, (the) books, plural of βιβλιον, biblion, book, originally a diminutive of βιβλος, biblos, which in turn is derived from βυβλος—byblos, meaning papyrus, from the ancient Phoenician city of Byblos which exported this writing material), is a word applied to sacred scriptures. ...


The story has an interesting ambiguous ending, which casts doubt on whether or not the narrator actually travelled to the future.

Consider Her Ways is more than just an original science fiction story: particularly notable is a lengthy argument during the story between the narrator and the historian about whether the new society is better than the old one, during which the historian attacks the concept of romance. Romantic love is a form of love that is often regarded as different from simply sexual love, or lust. ...

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