The Misconceiver

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Pub Date 01 Nov 2022 | Archive Date 01 Feb 2024

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Description

This fresh release of an epochal novel from the late 1990s unlocks the dystopic world of the United States circa 2026, when Roe v. Wade has been overturned and abortion finally banned in all 50 states. Following in the steps of her dead sister and mother, narrator Phoebe Masters works in the computer industry by day and at night performs illegal "misconceptions" in her basement, restoring to desperate women some measure of control over their own bodies. Outside, technology has progressed but social change has moved backward. Married women tend to stay home. Amniocentesis is illegal. The worst punishment for rape is a paternity suit. Homosexuality is back in the closet.

Yet despite her profession, despite the connection she sees between her job stamping out malware and her illicit vocation terminating pregnancies, Phoebe holds few political beliefs until a love affair forces her to choose between closing herself off and revealing her secret. Betrayed, arrested, and jailed, she begins to confront the multiple contradictions of her world. Eventually she must choose—between revenge and forgiveness, family and self, guilt and accountability, love and action.

While The Misconceiver initially presents its characters' repression matter-of-factly, the accretion of detail concerning their emotional and physical pain makes this far more than a merely political novel. Phoebe is fiercely loyal to the memory of her sister but anxious for her own freedom. Haunted by memory and hunted by the law, she begins to find her true self even as she sheds her old identity. Set in a future that is not far-fetched but well within the range of our imagination, The Misconceiver not only addresses a vivid issue of our time but also brings to life characters and relationships that could well be ours, just over the horizon of time.

This fresh release of an epochal novel from the late 1990s unlocks the dystopic world of the United States circa 2026, when Roe v. Wade has been overturned and abortion finally banned in all 50...


Advance Praise

"The Supreme Court’s scheme to subject women’s bodies to the whims of their respective state governments has birthed a million new allusions to The Handmaid’s Tale. But let's consider another feminist novel . . . published 25 years ago."

—Ron Charles, The Washington Post

"The Misconceiver is primarily a powerful novel of dystopia. But it is also a very tense thriller. . . . Ferriss is a fine writer, and in this dark and starkly realistic tale, she answers all her own questions, pulling no punches."

—The Times of London

"If in this novel Ferriss makes you think, she will also make you feel."

—PW (starred review)

"The Misconceiver stands stalwartly by John Irving’s Cider House Rules as a compassionate novel about abortion and, thus, about women."

—St. Louis Post-Dispatch

"In Ferriss' convincing early 21st-century dystopia, abortion is outlawed. At great risk, her eponymous female lead seeks to return to women some small measure of reproductive rights. The clandestine nature of her work and self-doubts imperil even this feeble lifeline. As Ray Bradbury once said, 'I'm not here to predict the future, I'm here to warn about it.'"

—Time Out, London

"Lucy Ferriss has given us a chilling, compelling look at a not-so-distant world, one that is eerily prescient and disturbing."

—Susan Straight, author of MECCA

"A dystopian novel already drawing comparisons to Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. When Roe v. Wade is overturned in 2011, Phoebe find herself performing illegal "misconceptions" in her basement, dealing with desperate women, a repressive justice system, and her own conscience."

—SF Site: New Books in Science Fiction

"In 2026, 15 years after Roe v. Wade was overturned and the Human Life Amendment passed, abortions are called misconceptions. The government doesn't allow married women to work; indeed, women are expected to be subservient to men. Phoebe, Ferriss's narrator, and her sister Marie learned to be misconceivers after the "antis" blew up an abortion clinic in which their mother worked, yet neither is comfortable with it. They believe they are doing wrong. . . . Those who stick with her will appreciate Ferriss' sympathetic handling of Phoebe's deep-seated problems and heated relationship with Arthur, a doctor."

—Booklist

"Ferriss worthily acknowledges the complexities of the abortion debate, and her dystopia . . . is thoroughly imagined."

—Kirkus Reviews

"Fast-paced, intelligent, risky storytelling by one of America’s brightest young writers."

—Molly Giles, Author of Rough Translations

"A powerful, painful book."

—Frederick Busch, author of Girls

"The Supreme Court’s scheme to subject women’s bodies to the whims of their respective state governments has birthed a million new allusions to The Handmaid’s Tale. But let's consider another...


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  • Radio and TV Interviews
  • Author Appearances in Major US Cities
  • Goodreads Giveaway
  • Author Talks & Discussions
  • Large Social Media Presence

Available Editions

EDITION Paperback
ISBN 9798218042714
PRICE $19.99 (USD)

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