Nolite te bastardes carborundorum.

These days, there seem to be more and more parallels between our world and those of classic dystopian fiction. But with its commentary on women’s rights and reproductive freedom, perhaps Margaret Atwood’sThe Handmaid’s Tale strikes the most resonant chord. It’s been over three decades since Handmaid’s release, but what was once a distant fantasy has becoming something unsettlingly, possibly real. As Gloria Steinem noted, “Atwood’s novel should be read—or read again—as a warning about patriarchy” and “is not exactly fiction.” The twenty books below will give you more food for thought—and that the same bone-chilling fear of what just might lie ahead.

The Book of Joan

By Lidia Yuknavitch

A 2017 hit, The Book of Joan is the inventive reimagining of the Joan of Arc legend. After a series of violent wars, the survivors flee to CIEL, a platform hovering just above the earth’s now-radioactive surface. Since the disaster, humanity has become sexless and hairless—more creature than human—and fallen under the reign of a misogynistic dictator. But when a band of rebels rises, the world’s fate lies in the hands of one powerful girl-warrior named Joan. Like The Handmaid’s Tale, The Book of Joan is a “riveting, ravishing, and crazy deep” exploration of gender fluidity, and the complexities of the human condition (Cheryl Strayed, New York Times-bestselling author of Wild).

The Book of the Unnamed Midwife

By Meg Elison

A selective virus has decimated the female population, increasing childbirth and pregnancy fatalities. As the men gain control, Midwife’s nameless protagonist sets out to free the enslaved women from their captors. Dressed as a man, she covertly administers birth control and medical advice while dodging the men trying to harm her. Elison’s world is “gripping and grim”—and very reminiscent of Atwood’s Gilead—as one woman battles the commoditization of female sexuality (Publishers Weekly). Be sure to check out the follow up novel, The Book of Etta.

The Female Man

By Joanna Russ

The Female Man jumps from timeline to timeline, dystopia to dystopia, as the lives of four different women intersect. Where Jeannie is desperate for marriage and male attention, Joanna is a feminist trying to stand her ground in a male-centric world. And where Janet hails from an all-female society, Jael comes from a future where the sexes are segregated and at war. As the relationships between these women grow, Russ shows how gender roles and identities evolve as time passes and cultures shift.

The Shore of Women

By Pamela Sargent

In the post-war future, women are goddesses, calling all the shots and using men only for procreation. Exiled to the outskirts of the city, Birana now lives among the male population and soon meets Arvil. Like Offred and Nick, their friendship turns romantic and, as the couple tries to evade their oppressive leaders, they realize the nature of men and women is not what they thought.

Walk to the End of the World

By Suzy McKee Charnas

Years ago, a catastrophic event destroyed the world. From its ashes, emerged a new society called the Holdfast. Here, women, or “fems,” are like Atwood’s “Handmaids”: pieces of property, breeders, and scapegoats for the disaster that laid waste to the world. Through the eyes of three men, we come to learn about life in the Holdfast and of the precocious Alldera, a “fem” spearheading an underground resistance movement against the patriarchy.

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Native Tongue

By Suzette Haden Elgin

By the 22nd century, the 19th Amendment has been repealed. Most women are banned from public life while others serve as “linguists,” bred solely to facilitate interplanetary commerce. But the women of Native Tongue’s dystopian society are hungry for freedom and, in a revolution similar to “Mayday,” create their own language. Native Tongueis more than an “absolutely compelling” feminist story, but a testament to the power of words and language (Women’s Review of Books).

Daughters of the North

By Sarah Hall

Sister lives in post-apocalyptic England, where the Gilead-like “Authority” controls women’s reproductive health. Disguised as a protective measure against overpopulation, the “Authority” requires the sterilization of any woman of childbearing age. Traumatized by her procedure, Sister flees to the female utopia of Carhullan, only to realize it is not so dissimilar from the place she left behind. A haunting page-turner, Daughters of the North offers a sharp “feminist commentary on war, gender, politics, and identity” (Publishers Weekly).

The Big Lie

By Julie Mayhew

Nazi-held England has hardly changed since the mid-20th century. A woman’s place is still in the home. German blood must stay pure, and any defects are prevented by government-sanctioned hysterectomies. Jessika is a “goody-good” who has never questioned the injustices of her world. But when her friend’s rebellious behavior falls under Nazi scrutiny, Jessika must choose whose life is worth protecting. An “intriguing, engrossing, and frighteningly plausible” mash-up of The Man in the High Castle and Handmaid, The Big Lieis a coming-of-age tale that tackles everything from feminism and sexism to personal integrity and sexual acceptance (Louise O’Neill, author of Only Ever Yours).

Only Ever Yours

By Louise O’Neill

Part Stepford Wives, part Mean Girls, part The Handmaid’s Tale, Only Ever Yours is set in a society that prioritizes male pleasure over everything else. Educated in beauty and obedience at “School,” only the most beautiful graduates receive the highest honor: marriage to a wealthy man. Though best friends frieda and isabel (their lower-cased names, further reflections of their status as “things”) are desperate to succeed, frieda’s gradual self-destruction jeopardizes their futures. “Deep, dark, and frighteningly believable,” Only Ever Yours raises important questions about our perceptions of beauty and femininity (Marie Claire).

The Core of the Sun

By Johanna Sinisalo

Chances are, you probably haven’t heard of this Finnish modern classic, but it belongs in everyHandmaid fan’s TBR pile. There are two classes of women in the new Republic of Finland. The “eloi” are meant for sex and procreation while the “independents,” whose intelligence is a menace to society, are sterilized. At the center of it all is Vanna, a clever “eloi” searching for her sister as she—wait for it—battles a chili pepper addiction. From a religious cult on the sun to chili pepper prohibition, Sinisalo puts a unique spin on the dystopian genre while being no less astute in her social commentary.

The Children of Men

By PD James

Just like in The Handmaid’s Tale, the world in Children of Men has been plagued by infertility. After the planet’s youngest person dies, there seems to be little hope for future generations. That is, until Theodore and a group of rebels discover a life-changing secret—a pregnant woman. And while some fight to keep her identity under wraps, others have much more sinister intentions. PD James’ vision of 2021 is “as scary and suspenseful as anything in Hitchcock”—and a perfect read for Handmaid fans (The New Yorker).

The Glass Arrow

By Kristen Simmons

While technology has advanced, society has regressed to a caste system that enslaves women. Aya lives freely in the wilderness, but after she is captured by the government she finds herself on the dreaded auction block. When she’s sold to the wealthy Mayor Rykor, Aya begins to plot her escape—and strikes up an unexpected friendship with the mayor’s son. But in a dog-eat-dog world where no one can be trusted, Aya must rise above sexism, violence, and a corrupt system if she’s to regain her freedom. The Glass Arrow is an action-packed dystopian thriller about the beautiful and ugly parts of humanity—and the power of the human spirit to overcome.

Woman on the Edge of Time

By Mary Piercy

Doctors think Connie has gone insane—but she simply knows a frightening truth. A time-traveling envoy has given her glimpses of two possible futures. One is a utopia where everyone is equal. The other is its nightmarish opposite, a Handmaid-esque society where humans are little more than objects. With the fate of the world on her shoulders, Connie embarks upon an “absorbing and exciting” adventure that will require every ounce of her moral courage (The New York Times).

Into the Forest

By Jean Hegland

Similar to The Big Lie and Only Ever Yours, Into the Forestrevolves around two young women living in a post-apocalyptic world. As sisters Nell and Eva struggle to survive in the dystopian wilderness, they must also come to terms with their encroaching adulthood. Blending elements of The Handmaid’s Tale and Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, Into the Forest examines complex relationships—how they change, survive, or end—in an environment where everyone must fend for themselves.

Dawn

By Octavia Butler

Ever since the nuclear holocaust, the alien Oankali have kept humans unconscious. Reawakened after one hundred years, the survivors—including a woman named Lilith—find that their planet is not the one they remember. Just as Offred is a minority in the Republic of Gilead, Lilith must also find her place in a world where she has suddenly become the outsider. Dawn is yet another stunner from the award-winning author of Parable of the Sower that will make you question what it means to be human.

The Gate to Women’s Country

By Sherri Tepper

For Stavia’s entire life, women have ruled the world and presided over all the secrets of civilization. Warfare is the only duty left to men, who either live outside the city walls or in military garrisons. Over time, the men have grown curious, wanting access to the knowledge that only their female rulers posses. So when Stavia reveals the secrets of Women’s Country to a young boy, the long-kept peace breaks out into a battle of the sexes. The Gate to Women’s Country “provokes a new look at old issues,” like our definitions of “femaleness” and “maleness” (The Washington Post).

Ammonite

By Nicola Griffith

The virus that struck Jeep did more than kill every living man—it altered the female DNA. Terran Company has arrived with a new vaccine, but their visit quickly turns awry. Only one of them, an anthropologist named Marghe, continues their mission, hoping to understand the Jeep natives and their disease. Ammonite’s cast of characters, while all women, are diverse in their personalities, and Griffith manages to smash gender stereotypes while telling a “gripping, many-layered, ever-changing” story (The New York Times Book Review).

Y: The Last Man

By Brian K. Vaughan

From Lost writer/producer Brian K. Vaughan comes the most critically-acclaimed comic series of the past decade. Yorick Brown and his pet monkey are the last males, human or beast, left alive. Now, Yorick is homeward bound to reunite with his fiancée, mother, and sister. But not all is smooth sailing as the pillars of civilization continue to crumble, and Yorick finds both allies and enemies in government officials, scientists, and rebels. Y: The Last Man is an inverse of The Handmaid’s Tale, but its socially relevant message—and thrilling combination of violence, comedy, and romance—will ring true with fans of Atwood’s book.

Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future

By A.S. King

Glory has always wrestled with the demons of her past: Will she grow up to be like her mentally unstable parents? Or are there better times ahead? But Glory’s life takes a sharp turn when she has grim visions of the future. The world she sees is as horrific as Atwood’s Gilead, a place where women are stripped of their rights and society is on the brink of war. As Glory fights to save the future and overcome her fears, King poses provocative ideas about feminism, sexuality, the male gaze, and societal pressures on girls.

Herland

By Charlotte Gilman

When three men learn of an all-female society, they are determined to become its new rulers. But what they find is not what they expected. The women of Herland are self-sufficient, not only doing “men’s work” but capable of asexual reproduction. Such independence forces the men to reevaluate their notions of a woman’s role in society. Published in 1915, Gilman’s argument for gender equality was revolutionary for its time. At once funny and thought-provoking, the novel asks us to recognize that women are just as valuable—and intelligent—as any man.

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Molly Pennington, PhD

Writer and Mentor

Girls and women have been steadily outpacing their male peers at all educational levels for 35 years, yet many of these success stories emerge from settings where discrimination occurs with alarming frequency. Learn what experts report about the phenomena and what can be done to address it.

According to the most recent data available from the U.S. Census Bureau, which began tracking such outcomes 75 years ago, 2014 marked the first time that there was a greater likelihood that a woman would hold a bachelor’s degree than a man.

Persistent Inequality

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, women comprised 57 percent of college students and 57 percent of college-degree holders in 2014. Nonetheless, while more women than men now earn bachelor’s degrees, there is strong evidence that they do so on campuses where inequality still persists. In a recent study published throughHarvard University’s Voices of Diversity project, U.S. college students at several predominantly white, 4-year institutions were asked about their experiences at college. (Only one of these institutions, Missouri State University, agreed to be publicly identified and to implement recommendations to address these problems immediately). The men and women interviewed described interactions small and large, subtle and overt, in which female and male minority students were subject to discriminatory treatment. Many of these experiences involved microaggressions — that is, intentional or unintentional slights that contribute to a hostile environment and which are recognized by experts as being harmful to learning.

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Workforce Discrimination

Such experiences often persist — especially for women — once students graduate and find themselves on the job market, with detrimental consequences for employer and employee alike. A recent report by Catalyst, a non-profit organization that aims to improve career opportunities for women across many employment sectors, found that men at U.S. universities hold a considerably higher percentage of tenured positions than women. Female instructors were also more likely to be employed in lower-ranking orpart-time faculty positions at these institutions. A related analysis at the University of Southern California revealed that 92 percent of white males at this institution were awarded tenure between 1998 and 2012, while just 55 percent of women and minority candidates were.

Female hires experience discrimination in other industries as well, particularly in technology fields. Indeed, 73 percent of tech employees surveyed by The Guardian in 2014 reported that they believe the industry is sexist. According to research presented at the 2014 Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association, nearly 40 percent of women who earned engineering degrees in the past 60 years had either left the field or opted not to pursue careers as engineers, earning the discipline the dubious honor of being the field with the highest turnover of female workers compared to other skilled professions like law, medicine, and higher education. One explanation was the industry’s “hostility toward women.”

STEM fields have been identified as a major domain of discriminatory treatment towards women, both in college and the workplace. Only about 25 percent of STEM degrees are awarded to women, although there are colleges working to address this disparity. Such institutions are enacting deliberate efforts to increase hiring of female faculty in science, technology, engineering, and math departments as well as providing more mentorships to support women in these disciplines.

Increased Achievement

In light of how common it is for women to encounter gender discrimination in educational and employment settings, what accounts for their higher achievement in school?

Claudia Buchmann, a sociology professor at Ohio State University, explains that as career opportunities expanded for women in recent decades, girls have become increasingly motivated to strive in school in order to have similar choices when they reach the workforce. As Buchmann notes, they seem to understand that success is not a given and that hard work is necessary to reach their goals.

According to a 2014 report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development that compared reading, math, and science achievement among 15-year-old boys and girls in developed countries, researchers found that girls read and study more than boys, a difference that is especially significant since reading is foundational to all other areas of learning. Indeed, experts believe that such practices enable girls to develop the habits and skill sets that result in both academic and career success.

That said, gender discrimination takes a toll — personally, educationally, and professionally — as a 2015 report by a U.N. working group noted. In spite of the strides women have made in recent decades, their achievements still lag many other countries around the world.

What can schools, colleges, and workplaces do to support girls and women more effectively?

Representation

Teachers and faculty need to include scholarship, literature, and histories that represent diverse experiences and perspectives. In the absence of prominent female or minority members of specific disciplines, though, instruction should address the reasons for their underrepresentation. Moreover, since gender discrimination intersects with race, class, age, and sexual identity or orientation, those who work in all areas of education need to engage in dialogue and foster change to remedy the harm that results from exclusion or discriminatory treatment.

A Texas A&M University study by economists Jaegeum Lim and Jonathan Meerexamined the standardized test scores of over 14,000 middle school students in South Korea, and discovered that girls perform significantly better, especially in math, when they are taught by women. The researchers speculated that these outcomes were due to the additional level of comfort female students feel when instruction is provided by a woman, and suggested that female educators foster a sense of equality and freer expression among these students in their classrooms.

In 2014, the Association of American Colleges & Universities (AAC&U) announced an initiative known as TIDES, or “Teaching to Increase Diversity and Equity in STEM.” The program provides 20 higher education institutions with grants to fund faculty development and curricula aimed at effectively teaching STEM disciplines to diverse student bodies. As AAC&U President Carol Geary Schneider noted in the association’s announcement of the effort, “It is critically important for higher education to find ways to increase success in STEM fields for both women and all students from underserved communities.”

While American girls and women have made enormous progress educationally and professionally in the past half century, their achievement still occurs in environments where microaggressions or downright discriminatory treatment are more the norm than the exception. School and college leaders, teachers, and faculty can address these issues forcefully to create educational and employment opportunities in which women can contribute with excellence. After all, everyone stands to gain from this outcome.

You can read the latest updates and opinions on education-related news and ask a question to find out how colleges you’re considering address gender discrimination.

Questions or feedback? Write to us at news@noodle.com, or leave a comment below.

Photo of Molly Pennington, PhD

Molly Pennington, PhD

I have a doctorate in Critical and Cultural Studies from the University of Pittsburgh where my research focused on representations of race and gender in popular media. I care deeply about social justice and education reform. As a professor, and now mentor and tutor, I love to help students thrive. I work with them to develop critical thinking, a delight for reading and a passion for writing. You can find out more about me at mollypennington.com or on Twitter:

Freedom for a Man

Men are statistically more likely to go to prison than women for the same crime. Feminists and Men’s Rights Activists alike should be outraged.

People forget that prisons aren’t always there to protect us; in fact, they often aren’t there to help us at all. When you have a primarily or entirely privatized penal system, prisons become a business and their primary reason for existing is to make money.

In America today the prison business is booming… and men are disproportionately paying the price.

According to a recent study by Sonja Starr, an assistant law professor at the University of Michigan, men on average receive 63 percent longer prison sentences than women who commit comparable crimes. Reinforcing data accumulated from numerous other surveys on the subject, Starr also found that women are twice as likely to avoid incarceration if convicted of a crime – which may explain why 90% of the prison population is male – and estimated that the gender gap in sentencing could be as much as six times as large as that between white and non-whites (more on that in a moment). Despite this trend, the existing tendency among progressives has been to push for changes that only exacerbate the problem, such as the concerted effort among British feminists to abolish female prisons altogether.

In America today the prison business is booming… and men are disproportionately paying the price.

These facts put advocates of prison reform in a tricky dilemma. On the one hand, leftists who point out that female convicts “often have poor mental health or are poorly educated, have not committed violence and have children to look after” aren’t wrong. However, because these same traits frequently apply to men who are convicted of crimes (indeed, a compelling case could be made that they describe a considerable fraction of our prison population), it speaks volumes that this data is used to widen the sentencing gender gap instead of confront how our sentencing system is fundamentally draconian.

After all, the gender gap is far from the only problem facing American prisons today. There is also the problem that police are more likely to target non-whites than whites, who are in turn less likely to be able to afford quality legal counsel. As a result, one out of every three black males born today will be incarcerated during their lifetime, as compared to one out of six Latino males and one out of 17 white males. According to the 2010 Census, almost one in ten black men between the ages of 20 and 34 were in prison; by contrast, the numbers for white men in the same bloc was roughly one in fifty. Needless to say, non-whites make up a majority of the more than 2.4 million people living behind bars as of March 2014, a number that is likely to be much higher than 3 million when you take recidivism rates into account.

Of course, because the American prison-industrial complex is incredibly lucrative (as of 2013 it was worth $70 billion), politicians are influenced by lobbyists for groups like the Corrections Corporation of America to create laws that put more people in jail rather than fewer, especially through tighter drug laws. As a result, Americans have been left with a penal system in which poor boys, particularly of color, are more likely to go to prison for the same crime as a rich white girl.

In short, the issue of the prison-industrial complex is an intersectional one encompassing state corruption, capitalism run amok, race, and – when it comes to the heavier sentencing for men – gender inequality. So why isn’t the last issue receiving more attention?

‘A lot of times these issues will get drowned out because of highly public fighting between Men’s Rights Activists and feminists, which winds up overshadowing the legitimate concerns that many MRAs have,’ explained Adam Hollingsworth… ‘The sentencing gap should be a large issue not only for Men’s Rights Activists, but for feminists. It is a clear example of how our justice system treats women as if they have less agency and are thus less accountable for their actions.’

“A lot of times these issues will get drowned out because of highly public fighting between Men’s Rights Activists and feminists, which winds up overshadowing the legitimate concerns that many MRAs have,” explained Adam Hollingsworth, a Men’s Rights Activist who was interviewed for this article. “The sentencing gap should be a large issue not only for Men’s Rights Activists, but for feminists. It is a clear example of how our justice system treats women as if they have less agency and are thus less accountable for their actions.”

The problem, it seems, is that it is often much easier to put men in jail. As Hollingsworth implicitly pointed out, the conventional assumption is that women can’t hack it in prison, whether because they need to raise families, or are too emotionally frail, or literally lack the physical strength to survive behind bars. Within this zeitgeist, a man who steps up and takes prison time for a woman can be depicted as chivalrous and noble; inversely, a man who expected a woman to do the same thing, meanwhile, would seem dishonorable and cowardly.

It must be emphasized that this story isn’t about calling women out for using the “woman card,” but about making sure that both genders are equally accountable for their actions. In America, the popular cliché among the law-and-order set is that “If you do the crime, you should do the time.” It says nothing about what you have in your pants, and any justice system that factors that into its decisions –knowingly or unknowingly – is reinforcing patriarchal assumptions that simultaneously demean women and are unjust to men. Logically speaking, there is no getting around the fact that in a free society, the same sentences should be meted out regardless of sex.

Instead truly meaningful prison reform should focus on (a) creating racial, gender, and economic equity in the distribution of justice and (b) cranking up pressure on politicians so that they will stop finding reasons to incarcerate people. Certainly we can start with lessening offenses on minor drug charges, particularly those involving marijuana; finding alternative methods of rehabilitation for juvenile offenders convicted of committing petty crimes, particularly those that focus on community participation and remembering that “it takes a village to raise a child”; and making sure that our prisons take the severity of a convict’s mental illness into account when determining how he or she should be treated during their incarceration.

If nothing else, however, any feminist should be outraged to know the statistics about the sentencing gap. It is proof that fellow human beings are receiving unjust and unequal treatment, even as it simultaneously demonstrates that our justice system has a misogynistic mentality based on outdated assumptions about women being the weaker sex. This is a cause in which feminists should find common cause with Men’s Rights Activists, in the same spirit that Emma Watson articulated to the United Nations last September: “Gender equality is your issue too.”

Image: Syfy Channel

Power armor and exoskeletons are a staple in science fiction. They enhance the abilities of futuristic soldiers on the battlefield, giving them an edge against their enemies. Recently,my colleague Lauren Goode finished out the second season of her series Next Level by checking out the promising future of exoskeletons in the workplace. She mentioned that while these devices have their roots in military technology, designers are hoping that they can be used to help help workers on the job or prevent them from getting injured, or assist the disabled move around.

Given those military roots, however, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that science fiction authors, game developers, or movie directors will use some sort of exoskeleton or suit of powered armor for a pivotal battle sequence — starting with Robert Heinlein’s classic novelStarship Troopers all the way up to games like Halo or films like Iron Man.

But not every set of power armor is equal, and there are some that might be better to come up against than others. Here’s 18 examples, ranked from what you wouldn’t want to run into in a fight to what you really don’t want to run into on the battlefield.

CATERPILLAR P-5000 WORK LOADER, ALIENS

Image: 20th Century Fox

The Caterpillar P-5000 Work Loader from James Cameron’s Aliens is an iconic piece of sci-fi hardware, and we’ll probably see something similar in the real world before too much longer. It’s designed to allow workers to quickly and easily move heavy pieces of equipment and cargo around.

But while Ripley demonstrated that it can be a formidable weapon in the right hands, it’s not really designed for fighting. It’s a glorified fork lift, and it’s pretty slow and cumbersome. But it’ll do in a pinch.

EXO-SUIT, ELYSIUM

Elysium

In his 2013 film Elysium, Neill Blomkamp populates his world with plenty of combat robots, but humans have their own augments as well. When Matt Damon’s character Max tells a crime boss that he’s willing to storm the film’s titular space station, he’s outfitted with an exoskeleton that’s grafted to his arms and legs, while the film’s villain, Kruger has a more advanced version of his own.

The Exo Suit from the film has its roots in real-world technology, and while these might have been designed for work, the film’s characters use them to give them an edge in a fight. There are some drawbacks, though. These suits don’t provide much armor, giving an opponent plenty of weak points to strike, and they’re drilled right onto a subject’s bones, meaning that you can’t easily take them off.

EXO SUITS, CALL OF DUTY: ADVANCED WARFARE

Call of Duty Advanced Warfare

Set in a near future where private military corporations wage war on behalf of the governments of the world, 2014’s Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare prominently features exoskeletons that enhance a player’s movements in the game.

The game’s characters are equipped with Exo Suits, a frame that allows them to jump incredible heights, punch through doors, and more, which gives them incredible power and freedom of movement on the battlefield. The suits help speed up the game, and allow for plenty of add-ons to go into battle with.

COMBAT JACKETS, EDGE OF TOMORROW

Edge of Tomorrow publicity still (WARNER BROS.)

Doug Liman’s 2014 film Edge of Tomorrow features humanity fighting off an alien invasion, using heavy-duty exoskeletons called Combat Jackets to help soldiers on the ground run faster and carry heavy weapons into battle.

These combat jackets provide both extra strength, some armor, and heavy weapons for the soldiers that wear them. But they’re just a bit shy of being proper power armor, and it feels like they could stand to get some better head protection.

LCS EXOSKELETON, LINDA NAGATA’S THE RED TRILOGY

Image: Saga Press,

In her military science fiction trilogy The Red (The Red: First Light, The Trials, and Going Dark), Linda Nagata introduces readers to a group of specialized soldiers under the command of Lieutenant James Shelley: a linked combat squad. These soldiers head into the field with an impressive kit: an exoskeleton that lets them carry heavy loads and weapons into combat. But it also connects to neural laces implanted in their heads and links them to one another, making the entire unit a formidable adversary. They also have the incredibly creepy side effect of being able to walk their dead wearers back to base on their own after a battle.

The suits aren’t fully armored, but they provide quite a bit of protection to their wearers, and can be used in a variety of environments, from the African plains to high above the Arctic Circle.

AMPLIFIED MOBILITY PLATFORM, AVATAR

Image: 20th Century Fox

While James Cameron introduced the power loader to audiences in Aliens, he featured their militaristic cousins in his 2009 film Avatar. The Amplified Mobility Platform (also known as an AMP suit) is used by the RDA Corporation on Pandora for everything from moving around cargo to combat.

These massive suits are equipped with massive autocannon and a large knife, which gives its driver plenty of firepower. But while they’re agile in the field, their size makes them a bit of an easy target: the native Na’vi of Pandora were able to take them down with a variety of low-tech tactics.

DELTA-6 ACCELERATOR SUIT, G.I. JOE: THE RISE OF COBRA

Image: Paramount Pictures

Set in the near future, 2009’s G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, shows a world that’s come under threat from a mysterious group called M.A.R.S., led by James McCullen (Christopher Eccelston). The G.I. Joe team is called out to help deal with the threat, and along the way, are provided with a couple of Delta-6 Accelerator suits.

These suits provide some armor to their wearers and provide them with an array of weapons, but have an emphasis on speed: Duke and Ripcord use them to zip around Paris. However, while they’re fast, they don’t appear to have been created in large numbers.

T-51B / T-60 POWER ARMOR, FALLOUT

Fallout 4

This set of armor was the standard issue for soldiers in the United States Army’s Mechanized Cavalry Regiments before the Great War in the Fallout franchise. These suits carry with them a small fusion reactor for power, and can deflect laser blasts and conventional rounds.

However, in Fallout’s post-apocalyptic world, these advanced suits were harder to come by or maintain, and they’re largely used by the Brotherhood of Steel or the Enclave. They’re also not invulnerable: they’ll degrade during a heated fight.

SCOUT SUIT, JOHN STEAKLEY’S ARMOR

Art: Jim Burns / DAW Books

While the power armor in novels such as The Forever War and Starship Troopers are well known to science fiction fans, an underrated read is John Steakley’s 1984 novel Armor. In it, a soldier named Felix deals with the psychological stresses of interstellar warfare, equipped with a suit of armor called a Scout Suit, made up of a nearly indestructible material known as plassteel.

“Two meters tall, they weighed six times the norm. Their armored powered hands could crush steel, stone, bone. Armored legs could propel the fasted around 100 kilometers per standard hour. The suit protected them as well, automatically and instantly distributing most concussions in an evenly expanding patter from the point of impact to the entire surface of the armor. “

They’re also equipped with enough life support for three days, as well as a complement of guns and bombs. While these suits are nearly indestructible, Felix comes to fear the raw power at his disposal.

CRYNET NANOSUIT, CRYSIS

Gallery Photo: Crysis 3 screenshots and box art

The Nanosuits used in the Crysis series equip soldiers on the battlefield with an enormous amount of power, thanks to the use of artificial CryFibril muscle fibers. These suits give their wearers incredible protection, strength and speed, as well as some really useful features, such as active camouflage. They can also enhance a wearer’s vision, and allow them to survive underwater.

The big downside to these? They bond right to their wearer, and they’re nearly impossible to remove without killing them, and if they’re at risk of falling into enemy hands, they can self-destruct.

FIGHTING SUIT, JOE HALDEMAN’S THE FOREVER WAR

Image: Titan Comics

One of the best military science fiction novels out there is Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War, which drew off of his own experiences fighting during the Vietnam War. In this book, Haldeman’s soldiers are equipped with what they call a Fighting Suit, which they describe as “the deadliest personal weapon ever built.”

These suits are powerful: they can theoretically rip a steel beam in half, and provide armor and life support for a soldier to operate in a variety of hostile environments. But trainees are warned: the suits are dangerous not only to their foes, but to themselves. If they’re not careful, mistakes can be fatal.

GOLIATH MK Ⅲ POWERSUIT, JAMES S.A. COREY’S THE EXPANSE

Image: Syfy

In The Expanse, Mars possesses the most advanced military force in the solar system, and its elite Marines are trained to operate in deep space, onboard spaceships, and planetary surfaces. They come decked out in a powerful suit of armor called the Goliath Powersuit. This armor completely protects its wearer, providing life support and armor, as well as a heads up display to help soldiers with targeting. They also come equipped with guns mounted directly into their arms, and carry a small rack of missiles on their backs.

These suits will resist small arms fire, and are small enough that they can be used inside the narrow corridors of a spaceship. But they’re not invincible, as Bobbie Draper’s Marines discovered on Ganymede during the television show’s second season.

PRAWN BIO-SUIT, DISTRICT 9

Image: Sony Pictures

When the alien Prawns arrived on Earth in Neil Blomkamp’s 2009 film District 9, they bring with them an array of advanced weapons and technologies. One such piece of equipment is a Bio-Suit, a mechanized walker that comes loaded down with a number of guns and rockets.

After he was infected by a Prawn fluid that begins to transform him, Wikus van de Merwe gets into one of the suits while he’s on the run from a gang, and he uses it to kill his attackers. These suits can give a single soldier an edge in a firefight, but only Prawns (or people transforming into one) are the only ones who can use them. While they carry an impressive range of deadly weapons, they also aren’t invincible. As Wikus battles the MNU soldiers trying to capture him, the suit takes crippling damage from a sniper rifle, as well as rockets and a truck.

IRON MAN MARK III AND VARIANTS, IRON MAN

Image: Paramount Pictures

Marvel kicked off its cinematic universe with 2008’s Iron Man, in which Tony Stark, the head of defense contractor Stark Industries, is captured in Afghanistan. He escapes his captors by building a primitive armored suit, but after returning home, he refines the design and its capabilities. We see him use a huge range of suits over the course of several movies, which to serve a number of specialized purposes.

Stark’s Mark III armor is a powerful piece of equipment. Powered by an arc reactor embedded in Stark’s chest and managed by an AI, it can fly, carry incredible weight, and attack enemies with rockets, guns, hand-mounted repulsers, and a chest beam. The downside? While he has an entire house full of the suits, Stark is reluctant to lend them out to the government, and it’s safe to say that they’ll only work with him in control.

TRANS-DEVELOPMENTAL BIOGENIC ALLOY, KARIN LOWACHEE’S “NOMAD”

Image: Baen Books

In Karin Lowachee’s fantastic short story “Nomad” in John Joseph Adam’s 2012 anthology,Armored she introduces readers to an armored suit known as Radical Two (nicknamed Mad). Mad is part of a rogue band of armored soldiers, and when its human, Tommy, is killed, it decides to go nomad — striking out on its own — only to pick up an inexperienced kid.

These suits are pretty powerful, and mentally link up with their human operator. These suits of armor are sentient on their own, but they prefer to fuse with a human. They’re loaded down with weapons such as guns and grenades, and are incredibly hard to kill, with or without a human helping them.

MJOLNIR POWERED ASSAULT ARMOR, HALO

Halo 4

When humanity took to the stars in Bungie’s Halo franchise, the United Nations Space Command waged a constant war against an the Insurrectionists, and developed a super soldier program to augment their forces. The SPARTAN-II program enhanced and trained the soldiers who would wear the MJOLNIR armor, and they became a formidable force on the battlefield.

The Spartans are huge, covered in a tough armor that allows them to absorb shots from enemy soldiers, along with an energy shield that provides an additional level of protection. Their suits can also host an AI to support its wearer, and can interface with the weapons that they’re using, and despite their size, they’re incredibly agile, and present a formidable threat to the Covenant and Insurrectionists.

MOBILE INFANTRY POWERED SUITS, ROBERT A. HEINLEIN’S STARSHIP TROOPERS

It’s hard to beat the grandaddy of them all: the power armor at the center of Robert Heinlein’s novel Starship Troopers. Almost every instance of power armor in popular culture comes from Heinlein’s use.

Powered armor is one-half the reason we call ourselves “mobile infantry” instead of just “infantry.” Our suits give us better eyes, better ears, stronger backs (to carry heavier weapons and more ammo), better legs, more intelligence, more firepower, greater endurance, less vulnerability.

These suits can operate on a variety of planetary surfaces and environments, and come equipped not only with rifles and high explosives, but also tactical nuclear warheads that can eliminate an opponent in seconds. Let’s hope that the planned reboot of the film will include it this time.

SPACE MARINE POWER ARMOR, WARHAMMER 40K

Warhammer Space Marine 910

While it’s hard to beat Heinlein’s mobile infantry, the Space Marines of Warhammer 40K will do the trick. Fighting for the Imperium of Man, they have been genetically modified, conditioned and trained to become the best soldiers on the galaxy. Standing two meters tall, they’re incredibly tough, and wear imposing armor made up of thick ceramite plates.

This suit of armor links to a wearer’s nervous system, and fully protects them from their outside environment, meaning that they can operate anywhere in the galaxy. It enhances their senses and allows them to carry incredibly powerful and heavy weapons into the field. If you see them on the battlefield, just walk away.

Exo-Skeleton Concepts

On men being men again.

From “Desire,” a poem by Stephen Dobyns:

Why have men been taught to feel ashamed

of their desire, as if each were a criminal

out on parole, a desperado with a long record

of muggings, rapes, such conduct as excludes

each one from all but the worst company,

and never to be trusted, no never to be trusted?

Why must men pretend to be indifferent as if each

were a happy eunuch engaged in spiritual thoughts?

♦◊♦

The feminists have had their say over the years, and most men got the message: It’s not okay to objectify females, to see them as a conglomeration of body parts, to speak to them as if there is a microphone nestled between their breasts, or to act as if young women strutting the streets in mini-miniskirts and revealing halter tops are the least bit interesting to us unless they also happen to be carrying a copy of Goethe’s Faust. (I just learned that photographers would often stick a copy of Proust or Dostoevski into Marilyn Monroe’s hand before shooting, to round out the picture, so to speak. Ironically, Monroe actually was an avid reader of great literature and, contrary to her two-dimensional, pin-up calendar image, it turns out she was actually a person as wellWho knew?)

So we got it. Women are not merely sexual objects of desire. But what happened to men in the process of their feminist education? Poet Robert Bly, in Iron John, was very critical of typical “New Age Sensitive Males” who had essentially cut off their own genitals in the effort to distance themselves from the macho idiots that incur the wrath of women, and to become the thoughtful feeling blokes women claimed they wanted them to be. There was a rude awakening for many of us though, when we discovered that yes, women wanted us to be sensitive and respectful friends and fellow workers, but more often than not, they still often preferred the “bad boys” in the bedroom. We were duped, and gypped.

I remember as a teenager, the single worst thing a girl could ever say to you was, “Let’s just be friends.” It was the kiss of death. Like Seinfeld’s Soup Nazi, it essentially meant, “NO NOOKIE FOR YOU!” As I got older, just once I wanted a woman to say to me, “Listen, let’s just be lovers, I can’t handle a friendship right now.” I once mentioned this in a stand-up comedy performance, and an enterprising lass in the audience approached me after the show and took me up on it. We made a date to get together, but when I got to her apartment, I found it was filled, floor to ceiling, with 32 years worth of the New York Sunday Times. When I inquired, she said if she ever got around to “catching up,” she would most likely begin with Section Two, the Arts and Leisure pages. Needless to say, this opening conversation was not a harbinger of erotic adventures to come, and I left soon afterward, with a 1973 copy of the Book Review tucked under my arm, a consolation prize.

My old college friend Billy had a unique way of dealing with the sex and power issues within a stable marriage. He writes:  “Even though as a gynecologist, I knew there were better methods available for birth control, I always recommended the old-fashioned diaphragm to couples because it had a distinct advantage: it had to be stored somewhere, usually in the soap dish or shampoo caddy in the shower. Early on in our marriage, I learned that if I let my wife get into bed first, I could go into the bathroom and check the shower, and I could eliminate the guessing game as to whether that night would be a go or not. If the diaphragm was not in the shower, there was only one other place it could be. If it was still in the shower, then I could get into bed with a pre-emptive strike, saying, “Is it okay if I just hold you tonight?”  After our last child and after the tubal ligation, I was back out in the woods, figuratively. When I asked my wife if she would mind continuing to use the diaphragm, and she figured out why, I got cut off for a good two weeks.”

I took a popular workshop in the early 80’s called “Men, Sex and Power” (now “The Sterling Men’s Weekend”) in which the following riddle was proposed as a summary of male-female relations around sexuality:

“How does an 800 pound (male) gorilla make love to its (female) mate?”

Answer: “Anyway he wants to.”

The message was that women ultimately want men to be men, and that they want to be “taken,” often with force (in a safe and mutually agreed-upon, consensual way), and it was high time that New Age men—there’s no better way to say it—“got their balls back.” (I actually don’t think women want to be taken by force, except maybe once by Javier Barden; they mostly want us to beg, plead, and clean the house.)

But the message of the gorilla is dangerously close to the belief system of right-leaning Christian groups like The Promise Keepers who assert that a man must reclaim his rightful place as head of the family, the one who “wears the pants,” while the little woman returns to her rightful place as nurturer of hearth and home. Certainly as a society we have thankfully moved way past such limiting roles long ago. But in the sexual arena, even wise teachers of sexuality such as David Deida, author of umpteen books on the subject, insists that in striving for equality of the sexes, women have become more like men, men more like women, and in that sameness we have lost the fundamental male-female energetic polarity that makes for desire, lust, and hot sex. How to bridge this gulf, in which men are men, women are women, and raw, primal desire is real and allowed, yet not cross over into the world of inequality, rigid roles, objectification, and pre-feminist values?

It’s the marriage of love and desire, the blending of Eros and Agape that has been particularly problematic for men forever: if I want you, I don’t love you, and if I love you, I don’t want you. How many men have sectioned off their lives, keeping love in the home and hiding Eros in the pornography closet?

What would a “Masculinism” movement entail? Preferably, something other than the Bly-inspired Men’s Movement that usually had us sitting in sweat lodges and drumming naked in the woods, desperately trying to reclaim our primitive roots. (Some children’s summer camps try to instill these male instincts early: my friend’s son came back from one such place with the new name, “Flows With the Dolphins.”  When I heard that, to honor my sweat lodge experiences, I briefly became “Shvitzing with the Schmucks,” but it didn’t stick.) I don’t think becoming imitation Native Americans is the answer for guys like me, or most men I know. Somewhere between Ward Cleaver and Geronimo the answer lies.

My friend Charley, however, a veteran of the Men’s Movement, points out, in its defense, that “Men in America are divorced from the earth, the sky, the air and fire and water and every thing that made men men for thousands of years because they were close to nature.” (I beg to differ; when I was a kid, there was no such thing, for example, as indoor malls. When my mother took me shopping for clothes, all of the stores were right out in the open, exposed to the elements. And she often allowed my brother and me to set up our little pup tent in the living room, where we kept a window open so we could hear the crickets and other wildlife sounds of the Fair Lawn, New Jersey nights. Cut off from nature? I don’t think so.)

 

According to new research, plummeting sperm counts could result in human annihilation. We asked men how guilty they feel about potentially wiping out the species

Sirin Kale

This article originally appeared on Broadly.

Finally, some good news in our fucked-up news cycle: We’re heading for the extinction of the human race!

New research published in Human Reproduction Update has found that our species could become extinct if male sperm counts continue to fall at current rates—and that men from North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand are to blame.

Researchers assessed the meta-data of nearly 200 studies into sperm counts from around the world. They found that men from these regions seen their sperm quality deteriorate rapidly in the last 40 years.

Men from these regions saw a 52 percent decline in sperm concentration, and a 59 percent decline in sperm count. By comparison, no similar decline was seen in South America, Asia, or Africa, although it’s worth pointing out that fewer studies have been conducted in those parts of the world.

Speaking to the BBC, lead researcher Dr. Hagai Levine expressed alarm that the human race might become extinct if the trend continued. “If we will not change the ways that we are living and the environment and the chemicals that we are exposed to, I am very worried about what will happen in the future.”

But how do Western men feel about being responsible for the extinction of the human race? Is it just another thing to add to their list of sins, like police brutality and The Emoji Movie?

There was only one thing to do: ask some heterosexual men from North America and Europe! But where to find them? After much research, I managed to track some down. Only joking—the VICE UK office is full of straight white men! You can’t move for them! They’ve everywhere!

And there was no awkwardness about me cornering my male coworkers, coffee in hand on a Wednesday morning, to ask about their sperm motility. Everyone was extremely chill and receptive to my journalistic request.

“I think my sperm are perfectly fine thanks,” blushes my colleague Harry, pastry and iced coffee in hand. “I don’t want to know anything.”

“I’m deeply sorry for my role in the imminent extinction of the human race,” VICE.com editor Jamie responds. “They’re not certain of why sperm counts are decreasing yet, are they? But assuming it has something to do with poor diet, smoking, and a huge lack of exercise I do not feel great about my own sperm count right now in any way.”

Later he messaged me to tell me he was googling sperm supplements and “legit having a minor panic.”

Many of the men I interviewed for this piece wound up pretty freaked out, which is surprising—I always thought straight white guys were pro-human extinction. Otherwise, why are so many of them also climate change deniers?

“This new finding has put a horrible negative spin on what I regard as the main accomplishment of every one of my lackluster sexual encounters: making sure I haven’t knocked up some girl I picked up on Tinder,” whines my friend Mike. “Now my failure to impregnate girls has been a droplet in the flood of human extinction. As if the sex wasn’t already shit enough.”

Most of the men I spoke to were pessimistic about their sperm on account of their terrible lifestyles—which makes sense. Obesity, smoking, stress, diet, and the chemicals in our plastic and pesticides have all been variously cited as to blame for the fact that modern-day man’s sperm is as shaky as Jared Kushner’sunderstanding of the Logan Act.

Another thing that might be to blame for your defective spunk is watching too much TV. According to one 2016 study Copenhagen University study, sitting in front of the TV for over five hours a day was associated with lower sperm counts.

“As someone who is not obese, doesn’t smoke and doesn’t really watch TV, I see myself as an example of the solution, not the cause of the problem,” lies my boyfriend Charlie sweetly. (He loves reality TV.) “Hopefully other men will be as enlightened as me in the future and together we can ward off this looming threat.”

If this is all too much for you, why not do as my colleague Joel does, and live in sour, cloudy disbelief? “Sperm is hardly a dwindling fucking resource,” he blusters. “There is so much sperm in the world at any time. Think how much sperm is in the office right now. And you only need one sperm to make a baby.”

“Besides,” he goes on, “surely they’re working on synthetic sperm by now? If there aren’t already plans to cut men out of the reproductive cycle, that’s a real oversight.”

I couldn’t agree with you more.