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Saulter, Stephanie

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

(?   -    ) Jamaican author, in the UK from 2003. She is of strong sf interest for her ®Evolution trilogy comprising Gemsigns (2013), Binary (2014) and Regeneration (2015), set in a complexly interactive Media-Landscape-driven Near Future Dystopian but not Young Adult UK, set mostly in London, where Genetic Engineering has reified contemporary problems with race and ethnicity through the fact that genetically altered human beings known as "gems" can legitimately be thought of as differing from original-stock (Evolution aside) Homo sapiens. The underlying arguments of the sequence – which are not perhaps consistently honoured by the narrative itself, where complex cultural Memes are sometimes over-egged through Genre SF topoi – are arduous and sustained. The fact that one of Saulter's protagonists is an anthropologist – Saulter herself has training in Anthropology – allows a range of analytical aperçus to aerate the telling, and to give a legitimizing conceptual space for the suggestion, which is more than once made explicit, that the relationship between "norms" and "gems" has enforced a state of Slavery upon the latter, in a manner here more continuously argued but inherently similar to the "geneslaves" in Elizabeth Hand's Winterlong (1990). The implications of this argument, or perception, extend widely through the text as a whole, though Saulter stops short of arguing that an inevitable consequence of the triumph of neoliberalism would be an imposition of slavery for profit on the great mass of citizens of any advanced state.

The first two volumes of the sequence revolve around a devastating planet-wide Holocaust in the form of plague. To pick up the resulting labour-slack, a worldwide cabal of corporations has developed genetically modified humans (see above) as an exploitable underclass, each corporation identifying its slaves by their skin colour [for Colour Coding see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below]. As Gemsigns begins, however, it is clear that the period of enforced slavery has ended, and that complex (and never satisfactorily resolved) negotiations among different orders of society (see Politics; Kim Stanley Robinson) will be dominate much of the story. There are weaknesses: the Villain is stereotyped; the Telepathy is under-conceived; the Technology is too easily suborned into user-friendly outcomes. But the overall effect of ®Evolution is synergistic. [JC]

Stephanie Saulter

born Jamaica




  • Gemsigns (London: Jo Fletcher Books, 2013) [®Evolution: pb/Andy Vella]
  • Binary (London: Jo Fletcher Books, 2014) [®Evolution: pb/Andy Vella]
  • Regeneration (London: Jo Fletcher Books, 2015) [®Evolution: pb/Andy Vella]


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