Autokrator by Emily A. Weedon

While unfortunately we already know what it looks like when those who aren’t men are denied rights, and what it looks like when hard-won rights are being eroded, Autokrator takes the chilling thought experiment in a more extreme direction: what if women had no rights at all? What if they had to serve men unquestioningly? What if they were denied even the ability to call themselves women, instead known as Unmales? What would it be like in an extreme but not unbelievable world, militantly formed on the patriarchy? And what if Unmales were able to threaten it all?

What would it be like in an extreme but not unbelievable world, militantly formed on the patriarchy? And what if Unmales were able to threaten it all?

Emily A. Weedon takes us into a brutal, rigid, slightly Greek society – aspects of how the Autokracy functions seem to be based on ancient Greece – and tells their story through two women: Cera, a Domestic who works in the palace, and gave birth to a Male child by the Consort, who was taken away from her, an unclean Unmale; and Tiresius, the treasurer to the Autokrator, who managed to hoodwink everyone into believing she was Male, rising to the top of the Autokracy. Their paths cross, with devastating consequences for both of them – and the stability of the Autokracy.

Autokrator is fraught and dramatic. Cera is desperately in love, and depressed over the loss of her child. Tiresius is sneering and superior, assured that he is right and smarter than everyone else, and shows no love or sympathy to anyone, particularly those who have not strived for something better, as he has. Weedon chooses to tell this novel through the viewpoints of two not-especially likable characters (and often outright hateful characters), which makes it far more intriguing of a story than might be expected. Weedon’s writing is precise and well-tuned for each scene and both viewpoints.

Weedon chooses to tell this novel through the viewpoints of two not-especially likable characters (and often outright hateful characters), which makes it far more intriguing of a story than might be expected.

This is about revolution, about the dangers of absolute rule, and the power of the collective. Weedon’s messages about the dangers of denying large swathes of people rights are not subtle by any stretch – Autokrator is very on the nose for much of the novel – and the messages are short and easy to understand. The excellence in this book comes from the storytelling, and the fully realized characters. Weedon does the best work of all: telling a really good story, and so the messages of the toxicity of patriarchy are crystal clear. I devoured this book, because it was just so easy and fun to read, despite not being a terribly fun novel itself. Highly recommend Autokrator for your summer reading!

Emily A. Weedon is a debut author and an award-winning screenwriter. She co-created the series Chateau Laurier, the most awarded web series in the world in 2023. She and co-writer Kent Staines were awarded Best Writing in a Web Series at the Canadian Screen Awards in 2023. Emily has been a graphic designer, musician, set painter, and art director. She played music professionally and has released 3 EPs. She lives in Toronto, Ontario with her daughter, Ginger.

Publisher: Cormorant Books (April 13, 2024)
Hardcover 5.5″ x 5″ | 384 pages
ISBN: 9781770866850

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Alison Manley has ricocheted between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia for most of her life. Now in Halifax, Nova Scotia, she is the Cataloguing and Metadata Librarian at Saint Mary's University. Her past life includes a long stint as a hospital librarian on the banks of the mighty Miramichi River. She has an honours BA in political science and English from St. Francis Xavier University, and a Master of Library and Information Studies from Dalhousie University. While she's adamant that her love of reading has nothing to do with her work, her ability to consume large amounts of information very quickly sure is helpful. She is often identified by her very red lipstick, and lives with her partner Brett and cat, Toasted Marshmallow.

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