Theory of Bastards

I finished reading Audrey Schulman’s Theory of Bastards last night. It didn’t end the way I hoped it would.

I borrowed Audrey Schulman’s 2018 literary sf novel Theory of Bastards from the public library last week and finished it last night.

paperback of Audrey Schulman's Theory of Bastards

I had been intrigued by the premise: a novel about a woman recovering from endometriosis and researching sexual behavior in bonobo apes in a high-tech near future, but about two thirds of the way in the story went post-apocalyptic.

Not that I mind post-apocalyptic sf—I write it myself—but this is how Theory of Bastards ends. Frankie doesn’t get to test her titular hypothesis, let alone write a paper and present it. She’s just wandering across North America and is apparently the new matriarch of the troop of bonobo apes she had been researching.

I was a little disappointed, to be honest. It wasn’t what I expected, and it didn’t end the way I had hoped. Because even in the future nothing works, and mere survival is supposed to be enough.

I might have been more receptive to a “survival is enough” narrative before COVID-19 of course. It’s not Ms. Schulman’s fault I found this novel in the middle of a plague.