Reiko's Ramblings and Writings

What I'm reading and writing about lately.

IFComp 2016 Review: Manlandia

Posted by Reiko on November 22, 2016

This is a review of a game from the 2016 Interactive Fiction Competition. Scoring criteria can be found here.

Manlandia
Author: Rob Chateau
Format: Web

The game follows three explorers as they discover a hidden utopia populated entirely by men who somehow manage to reproduce asexually. The writing and plot felt exactly like an old pulp fiction novel, and after I finished it, I found out why: the author links to the wikipedia article for a book called Herland, written in 1915 by a feminist called Charlotte Perkins Gilman. The plot of the book is exactly the same as the story, except that the genders are switched, as you might imagine by the titles. In fact, it’s a complete rip-off, down to the names of the characters and specific plot events, and I suspect even whole sentences of the text. Although I couldn’t find much of the actual text online to check, the “Arab saying” sentence was quoted verbatim on Goodreads, for instance.

The point of the original novel was feminism, trying to postulate that women could build a utopia with no need for men, and exploring the effect of reintroducing men to this society. I’m not sure what the point of this story is supposed to be. Is the author (surely a man, by the name) the male equivalent of a feminist? Do people like that even exist? Why propose a feminized male society? That’s what a male society with no aggression or sexual desire would be. Men with low testosterone have little drive or energy to do anything, so they certainly wouldn’t work at building a society.

At any rate, I’m not sure many people today really believe that either men or women could create a utopia on their own. I certainly don’t think so. Human nature doesn’t work that way, and never mind the biological impossibility of an asexual human society. (In theory, if women had a source of sperm, they could sustain a society for awhile, but men certainly couldn’t.)

Time: 30 min
Scoring: base 7, -1 for plot rip-off that became even more implausible, -3 for text rip-off with no attribution up front
Score: 3

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