Pierre Bordage, that master of creative imagination, has conjured up a remarkably interesting plot. It spans several decades, giving his characters the opportunity to grow old, enabling them to meet up with each other, get married, separate and cope with whatever life may throw at them. That includes the plot’s Sword of Damocles - impossible to predict where or when it will fall. All the same he doesn’t restrict himself just to listing the drawbacks caused by these Ladies; he records the benefits, like the almost complete disappearance of war, and the decline in the influence of the major religions…
Through the reactions and the attitudes of his protagonists, he uses his story to illustrate our quirks, anxieties, needs and expectations and also sad reality. In order to portray reactions and feelings, he paints images of real delicacy, but doesn’t try to hide or deny the cruelty of the world or of complete social inequality.
By just a simple sentence or a scarcely disguised allusion, we look on helplessly at the evolution of a world terrorised by the presence of the unknown. Emergency Laws have been passed and democracy is in retreat, the characters’ lives change in every detail, like in their personal situations (depression, marriage, parenting, separation…) The rhythm is brisk with the years passing by from page to page. Gradually faced with the radicalisation of the authorities, all hope seems to have left a world in torment, where the White Ladies are both main observers and actors, with the disappearances continuing to multiply. The collision course with the future is then inevitable and the reader can but powerlessly watch the decline of the world and human society. […]
This novel contains all the narrative strengths in Bordage’s armoury, so reading this is yet again a constant delight. His sincere and expressive writing style we find here again has thrilled me throughout the thousands of his pages I have already read. His liking also for the myths that abound in human evolution is evident, the White Ladies perhaps being the next stage. Through this collection of destinies, he conveys his feelings about the most fragile, the most endearing but also the most desperately hopeless constituents of mankind.
A superb SF book.
As the author says, “fear leads to aberration”. And the whole world will swiftly plunge in, to appalling depths.
Like the trajectory of our present world where fanaticism continues to wreak havoc, Les Dames Blanches is also a voice to be heard against indifference. It is a vision of the near future in which the world has lost its sense of values. A world in technological decline, disturbed electronically by these white bubbles. […]
A complete success, a splendid jewel of a book.
In a word: humanist.
EmOtionS blog littéraire
Some are defeatist, others determined; the world depicted by Bordage is not droll. And what if human beings themselves were responsible for humanity being on the road to ruin? Book en Stock
Much more than science fiction, much more than a thriller, the measured style of Les Dames Blanches, which calmly yet indisputably reveals the paradoxical nature of our world, creates an ambiance of humanism under the guise of social science fiction; political and social analysis under the guise of fiction.
Balzac said, in his preface to La Comédie Humaine “French society was going to be the historian, I had only to be the secretary”; you could say of Pierre Bordage that he is the clearheaded seer and secretary of future society.
Cécile, Small things
A thrilling science fiction novel that stigmatises selfishness and human folly. Jean-Paul Guéry, L'Anjou Agricole weekly
Our world is afraid. This terse sentence is nevertheless a topical one as, on a daily basis, we are inundated with facts and appalling hate-ridden images through the media and the Internet. This violence and hatred often comes from an ignorance of others and not knowing the way they live. Their differences are viewed as aggression by these obsessed people, for no apparent reason. Pierre Bordage draws on this phenomenon of fear in Les Dames Blanches, his latest novel published by Atalante.
Olivier Verstraete, Radio Cité Vauban
An Interview with Pierre Bordage
Where did you get the idea of these strange white spheres?
I don’t know exactly. I needed a structure that had an inert and inoffensive appearance, and the sphere form seemed just right.
I realised that it was the right choice as the story developed, being a symbol of the womb, since one of the major themes of the novel relates to maternity and progeny.
The theme is a very contemporary one, in a world where “fear leads to aberration”, as you so rightly put it…
Fear is our only real enemy, I think, and the worst!
Fear of the unknown, fear of absence, fear of the void, fear of the dark, fear of loss, fear of solitude, fear of suffering, fear of disease… If we observe human beings in a rational way, we quickly realise that most of their excesses are engendered by fear.
Through fear we lose all sense of reason and rational thought. It can lead to extremism, intolerance, genocide and the sacrifice of our own children, as is recounted in the novel.
As usual in your novels, you put the main focus on the characters. Les Dames Blanches is also about human encounters…
A novel is fundamentally about the characters. About encounters, as you say, with other humans.
An author is a human being, yes, absolutely, who speaks to other human beings to discuss human issues. Characters are the ideal means to do this, because they are not dogmatic. They are just flesh and words, since it is their goal to kindle empathy and affinity, thus allowing different facets of humanity to be explored freely.
You seem to have really taken care to work on the “reflective” aspect as much as the “more entertaining” aspect of this terrific story…
I think that the reflective aspect comes from the SF genre. Through the magnifying effect of its leaps in space-time it is easier to understand the deep currents running through the present day. This space-time leap also helps in creating the more entertaining aspect that you mention.
For me SF, and especially social science fiction, is a great combination of entertainment, reflection about present times and fundamental philosophical questioning.
If I say that this book, like most of your books, is above all else humanist, what would you say?
I’d say yes, a thousand times yes. I’m simply exploring humanity, like all novelists do, I suppose.