The Revolution of Saint Jone by Lorna Mitchell

Women’s Press, 1988, 206 p.

Another Women’s Press book I’ve only just caught up on.

 The Revolution of Saint Jone cover

Newly ordained priest of the Church of the Rational Cosmos, Jone Grifan, has been sent as a Krischan missionary from Strylya to the pagan district of Embra in Skosha, part of the “cold, damp” Yukey Isles off the north-west coast of Yurope. These rather transparent altered spellings do not mean the locations bear more than a tangential relation to anything a twentieth (or twenty-first) century reader might recognise. Even if the text does explicitly refer to the Revelation of St John, Krischan teaching in the book is well removed from Christianity as we know it; though its central tenet – the abjuration of physical contact – is merely a heightened version of the anathemas pronounced by over-zealous adherents of present day patriarchal religions. As one of Jone’s catachumens puts it, “‘it’s “Dinny dae this” an’ “Dinny dae that.”’”…. “‘Aw the time it’s stoppin’ ye daein’ whit ye want.’” Both Jone’s nascent estrangement from the hard line and her willingness to see her new charges as people sow the seeds for her revolution.

As the above quotes demonstrate, the locals’ speech is rendered in Scots dialect, not something I expected to see in an SF book from the 1980s.

In common with other Women’s Press SF books there is a consideration of the rigidity of gender roles, subversion of which is one of the elements of Jone’s revolution. Unfortunately there is also a lot of information dumping in the book – sometimes through an embedded lecture by a character – and a large amount of telling, rather than showing.

Pedant’s corner:- catachumen (the spelling catechumen is more usual for a religious instructee but Mitchell uses catachumen consistently, or employs the contraction cat,) Bablylonianism (x 2; Babylonianism,) “The girls” (girl,) “naebody elses” (else’s,) “Everyone couldn’t run away,” (Not everyone could run away,) “point fifty-five” (oh dear, fifty-five means five more than fifty, anything after a decimal point is smaller than one, designated by a place value: hence point five five,) foreever (forever,) a missing full stop (x 2,) a lower case at the beginning of a sentence, a missing comma before a speech quote (x 3,) “‘you’re going you have a difficult time’” (to,) “to use if skilfully” (it,) diny (elsewhere dinny,) frist (first,) locted (located,) astronimical (astronomical,) by the cats laziness (cats’) Gannymede (Ganymede – again Gannymede was used consistently,) viscuous (viscous,) casuality (casualty,) “Fear of breaking rules… were blotted out” (fear was blotted out,) instrusions (intrusions,) “opt out the whole rotten system” (opt out of,) caryotid nerve (carotid,) “nebulus exploding” (nebulas – or nebulae!) agglomoration (agglomeration,) “a hot spark to Jones genitals” (Jone’s,) HC1 (HCl,) HSO F’s corrosion (HSOF’s,) “it’s mountain contours” (its,) two ethnic woman (women,) gunjed up (gunged,) she was being lain out (laid out,) scanning Luner’s finger’s (fingers,) “then he proceeded to telling her” (to tell her,) “what’s its criteria” (what are its criteria,) gasses (gases.)

Tags: , , ,

Leave a Reply

free hit counter script