Personally, I wouldn’t mind living four times as long as men (for four times longer, period), but it’s become quite a problem in David Boultbee’s May 2009 novel The Gender Divide.
Ryan Peters is an anomaly. In a world where women live four times as long as men do, Ryan is one of a few men with a similar lifespan. This difference in lifespan has had profound consequences on the world balance of political, economic, and military power and has created a social Gender Divide that threatens to tear the world apart.
Determined to close this Gender Divide, Ryan will sacrifice anything to succeed. The Gender Divide has already cost him the one true love of his life and even though he has a second chance, he won’t let that stand in his way. He is even willing to give up his own life … and in a sense he already has.
Boultbee is a Toronto native with a fondness for Heinlein and his incorporation of social issues into science fiction. From the official website, here’s the author’s commentary on the novel’s basic premise and concept:
A recurring idea in science fiction involves altering the menstrual cycles of women. It is one of those background items that is just there, much like computers and space travel.
While working at a biotech company, I quickly learned how interconnected all the systems in the body are. It is difficult to affect one part of the body without affecting other parts. That is why so many drugs have side effects.
I started wondering what would happen if there was an unusual side effect to stopping menstruation. Menstruation starts at a young age and runs for roughly forty years. During that time there is a lot of biological activity that is occurring. What happens if that all that energy is available elsewhere? What if women started living longer than men?
That was the early idea for the story. From there I began to wonder how this disparity in life span would impact world politics, economics, the military, and society. The balance of power would gradually shift from men to women, resulting in massive changes.
How The Gender Divide takes on society and abolishes PMS, the Scattering has yet to determine. But until the next reviews go up, here’s a link to the first chapter of the novel, which Boultbee provides as an excerpt.