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PO Box 95787
Seattle, WA 98145-2787


winner of the 2004 Philip K. Dick Award
Honor List for the 2004 James Tiptree, Jr. Award
a Locus-recommended book

Life is a richly textured fictional biography of the brilliant Anna Senoz, a scientist who makes a momentous discovery about the X and Y chromosomes. Anna’s discovery provokes widespread sexual rage and cruelly impacts her career, her marriage, and her child. Ultimately, Anna faces a challenge that the practice of science alone cannot meet.

Advance Praise

Gwyneth Jones has written the most wonderful day-after-tomorrow novel, about science, sex, love and its limitations, achievement and its ramifications. Always surprising, always profound, this is Jones at her brilliant best and there is no one better.
   — Karen Joy Fowler, author of The Jane Austen Book Club and Sarah Canary

Exceptionally vivid, this is one of those novels that remind you what novels at their best can do, evoking a total sense of how we live now. Beautifully written, and a real page-turner too, sharp-witted and suspenseful— I read it with a growing sense of exhilaration, certain I was engaged with a true work of art.
   — Kim Stanley Robinson, author of the Mars Trilogy and The Years of Rice and Salt

This is an ambitious, focused, unblinking troublemaker of a book in which some ambitious young people meet as university students and then twine and branch together and apart throughout their adult lives, in a near-future world of globally contracted professionalism and commercial science. Our heroine struggles not to make waves about the levels of more or less subtle sex discrimination she suffers while she pursues, erratically hot and cool, clues to a genetic shift that is already, quietly, transmuting our current gender conflicts — and perhaps all of society — into something new. Her obstreperous friend and alter-ego, meanwhile, pursues explicit feminist goals as a world media star and flamboyant political activist.

Along the way hearts are broken, people stumble into social experimentation while just trying to get along, and both allies and enemies spring up in unlikely places. The flavor is mainstream literary in the meticulous and dense observation of the details of daily life. But the axis of the story is a central question of science fiction (as speculative inquiry rather than adventure-romance): what will it take to end social gender inequity— and what will it cost?

Handsomely done, a strong and serious exploration, with convincing people you come to care about and high, very high stakes.
   — Suzy McKee Charnas, author of The Holdfast Chronicles and The Vampire Tapestry


Like all of Jones's work, Life demands—and amply repays—close reading. In addition to writing well about the thrills and tedium of scientific research, she manages to be both clinical and lyrical in describing her characters' exploration of their sensuality.
   — New York Times Book Review, November 14, 2004

The lives of biologist Anna Senoz; her husband, Spence; and their university friends intertwine as they evolve from idealistic students into adults with concerns that may affect their world. When Anna discovers a curious genetic trend with implications for the human sexual identity and gender relations, she finds herself a pariah among her colleagues. This latest novel from British author Jones (Divine Endurance) portrays a near future of commercial globalization in which gender discrimination persists in subtle ways, forcing biology to find a way to fight back to equalize the sexes. Beautifully written and elegantly paced, this story conveys bold speculative concepts through intensely human characters. Deserving a wide crossover readership, it is highly recommended for both sf and general fiction collections.
    — Library Journal (Starred Review), Sept 15, 2004

Jones' prose is deeply engaging, drawing readers fully into her near-future setting. Anna is a well-drawn protagonist, one who inhabits a role usually reserved for male characters in SF: the obsessed scientist, willing to make big sacrifices to unlock the mysteries of life.
    — Science Fiction Weekly, November 2004

If you are ready for something beyond ray guns and rockets, with a taste of the real world and a touch of science fiction, try Life; it will take you to a world you thought you knew.
    — SFRevu, November 2004

Life is a novel that poses the quintessential question: what does it mean to be human in the twenty-first century? Sex, science, the limits of love, and the struggles of individuals seeking to find meaning in their own lives, in a future world so close to our own, set the stage for a dramatic play of human emotions and the crushing press of ruthless events. Highly recommended.
    — Midwest Book Review, Vol. 3, No. 11, November 2004

Jones's genius here, however, is in the many layers and textures of experience she gives us, her recognition that great discoveries, great science, great art—like great sorrow and tragedy—take place against the minutiae of our days...This is a novel that strives fully to limn contemporary life, where we began and what we have become.
    — James Sallis, Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, December 2005

[T]his is a rich, potent, challenging, and original novel which does exactly what we always demand of the very finest science fiction: it makes us think about ourselves, about our future and how we want to be.
    — Paul Kincaid, Foundation, Autumn 2005

ISBN: 978-0-9746559-2-5 (13 digit)
Publication Date: Dec 1969