Kisses in the Wind is a near-future apocalyptic story written by ex-pat South American writer Forbes Skinner, writes SPR’s Cate Baum.
As attorney Neil Myers recovers from a mental illness in the heart of Washington DC, he imagines that women have taken over the world. Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama are locked in their struggle to win Democratic Party presidential nominee, and when Clinton’s supporters are ruffled by a snub to womankind, Myers sees what he always suspected: Women are headed to crush males into extinction, and it’s going to happen soon.
While the concept of this book is very interesting as a metaphor, and a comment on men in society – even as a woman I see the emasculation of men all over the place, and I do agree feminism has gone awry – but you could replace the word ” woman” in this synopsis with the word “zombie”, “alien” or “vampire” and it would still make sense. Because without realizing it, Skinner has written a pretty misogynistic book. I agree that was not his intention. But to write a book where the world has become a terrible place because of women taking it over is misguided, even if it is through the eyes of your main character.
For a start, women all becoming lesbians and killing off men seems completely far-fetched (and again, unfortunately misogynistic). And why would the city not be fixed up after the war between sexes? Women can build bridges. Why would botanists be performing abortions of male fetuses? There are plenty of female doctors. The women here are presented as completely emotionless, and in fact, more like men than men are. Is that the point? I just don’t know. I wonder if Skinner is off the mark because he grew up in a different culture; by his own admission, in his wonderfully written intro (Forbes, you write proses beautifully – stick with that), where he comes from he says they even kiss girls differently. Maybe there is a cultural gaff here.
Also, perhaps a more Sci-fi cover showing we are going to get action and guns would be better and help Skinner to sell more books. And there are a few spelling mistakes that need fixing up to make this presentation the best it can be. But on the whole, the book is decently edited.
There’s a lot to admire, having said all that. Some of the characters are very well-written and enjoyable, such as Junior, Myers’ son, dressing as a woman to scout the city as a rebel for the cause.
The story, despite its root in an idea that may turn off some readers, is actually very strong in construction, and follows excellent arcs and conclusions, with nice surprises and resolutions along the way. In fact, it reads exactly like a good action Sci-fi movie. It’s reminiscent of “The Walking Dead” or the movie “Elysium” with a little “Soylent Green” and “Planet of the Apes” in the mix. There’s car chases, and escape sequences that prove Forbes Skinner could write for film. In fact, in his intro he tells us this book was meant to be a screenplay, but he wasn’t sure how to go about it. Forbes – go about it! You have screenwriting talent!
And that, despite the theme, makes this book worth a look. It really is very imaginative and visual, and each scene is written with a clear objective. That is refreshing in a self-published book. I would recommend this book to sci-fi fans who enjoy conspiracy stories, because this is a really unique and exciting read.
Forbes Skinner’s new book Kisses in the Wind attempts to tackle modern gender roles and dynamics and in that way feels very timely, writes SPR’s Ade Adeniji
The story opens up with bed-bound lawyer Neil Myers watching the emerging Democratic race between then-candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
With female nurses at his side, Neil observes the emerging political battle on TV. As the glare of the television reflects against Neil’s empty face, one quickly gets the feeling he has seen better days. Neil used to be a dynamic, whip-smart attorney. That was before he started noticing that a lot of his male clients were getting the short end of the stick when it came to matrimony-related disputes like child custody. When one of his male clients loses his marbles and fires a gun in a courtroom, Neil also starts to lose his grip on reality.
Still, nothing could prepare Neil’s wife Miriam and son Junior, for Neil’s latest relapse after he becomes convinced that Hillary Clinton supporters are planning some sort of militant attack. It’s all just too much for Neil, who slips into a coma, providing Kisses in the Wind the opportunity to play with alternate reality. In the present, Neil continues to toss and turn in a psychiatric ward. In Neil’s imagined future, women have taken over the United States and much of the world. Men are relegated to sperm donors and live in prisons. The government has shifted from a Democracy to a monarchy run by Queen Shirley Tappin.
In this alternate reality, many of the players from Neil’s present have taken on new roles and this fun house style distortion is arguably the strongest aspect of Skinner’s book. Long-time thorn in Neil’s side, Judge Tappin, naturally, plays the role of despotic monarch and Neil plays the role of liberator, commander of a militant group who has set up shop in the hinterland of D.C. But it’s not Neil but rather his son Junior, who starts a forbidden relationship with the Queen’s granddaughter Princess Rowena that sends the whole thing crashing down, restoring peace.
Kisses in the Wind will likely be controversial. It takes feminism to its most preposterous conclusion, and the book’s success hinges on whether or not the reader believes the book to be satire. The White House, for instance, is renamed the Pink House and the young Princess – like presumably every other woman in this world — has a forced lesbian relationship. Are these Skinner’s jabs at the wrongheadedness of stereotypes and fears about feminists? Frankly, it’s hard to say.
The book also insists on a structure that becomes less compelling as it goes along. The digressions into the present-day aren’t nearly as interesting as the futuristic nightmare Neil is imagining. More insight, for instance, into exactly how women came to rule the world we be more helpful. It’s likely that readers will respond most to the Romeo and Juliet romance between Junior and Princess Rowena and Skinner’s ultimate conclusion seems to be that both women and men have unique roles in society.