BOOK REVIEW OF BIKETOPIA
For a few weeks, I tried re-creating parts of my life from before the pandemic. It didn’t work. My dog isn’t even the same (three times more energy, a couple pounds less weight). At least for me, there’s no going back to the way things were, so I’m reading books right now about envisioning new, better futures. Today, those new futures are from Biketopia: Feminist Bicycle Science Fiction Stories in Extreme Futures.
Solarpunk with ecotopian visions and bikes
Non-binary feminist science fiction stories about bikes
Women riding bikes in space. Women going to battle on bikes.
Yes, you read that right, stories about bikes in space paired with dystopian/utopian, non-binary, punk feminism.
If you’re looking for some fun while also playing with fire, oops, I mean playing with themes of social control, resistance, and ecological disaster, you definitely need to read the short story collection Biketopia: Feminist Bicycle Science Fiction Stories in Extreme Futures. Honestly, everyone should read it.
Feminist Bicycle Science Fiction to the Rescue
My sister said, “Chase, you need to stop reading self-help books. Really. Those women are making money convincing people they are broken.”
My roommate said, “All your books are nonfiction. And serious. Do you ever read anything fun?”
“Ok, ok, ok,” I said, “I’ll find some fiction about women kicking ass against oppressive systems.”
“Whatever it takes,” my sister said.
The short story “Portlandtown” by Elly Blue was exactly what I was looking for, only better. The main character, Mayana, is soooo relatable. In the passage below, I swapped out “industrial indenture” with “academic indenture” and she became me. Only better, because she is also an anarchist who rides to battle on a bike and fights with a staff.
She laughed at herself. She’d just been gloating about her freedom from industrial indenture, and here she was stranded because she couldn’t maintain her bicycle. An awkward position, which she would fight to hold until her last breadth.From “Portlandtown” by Elly Blue in Biketopia: Feminist Bicycle Science Fiction Storie in Extreme Futures
Relevant Themes Carried out on Bikes in Space
Biketopia was published in 2017, but Sarena Ulibarri, in the short story “Riding in Place” must have peered into the future when she wrote the scene excerpted below. The doctor in the story is making a comment about the victims of police brutality. Or, maybe the doctor is referring to people protecting themselves—and each other—by wearing masks.
The doctor shrugged. “I know they seem very alive. But they aren’t really human.”
Collette looked up at her. “Humans have a long history of claiming certain people aren’t really human.”From “Riding in Place” by Sarena Ulibarri in Biketopia: Feminist Bicycle Science Fiction Storie in Extreme Futures
Reading Black Lives Matter into this scene (rising up against lives taken inhumanely) is pretty straight forward. This afternoon, the scene came alive to me a la the pandemic while I was grocery shopping. Two men, walking down the aisle toward me—without masks—intentionally drifted closer to me, when I squirmed away from them, they looked at each other, laughed, and one of them said “they get so worked up about it, just like that.”
I was a they. Not a them. I was the other, not one of them. It really felt like the two men didn’t consider me human. I mean, if I was human, they would respect my safety by not walking into my 6 foot bubble and breathing on me, right? Even if they believed they were invincible to COVID, if I was human like them, they would respect my concern, right? Even if they believed COVID was a hoax, if I was human like them, they would have compassion for my concern, right?
Feminist Bicycle Science Fiction is the Only Solution
Go read it! The world needs feminist solarpunk with ecotopian solutions if we are ever going to overcome bigotry, don’t you think?