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100 sci fi women #25: Ann Burden

Ann Burden Z for Zachariah

Reading this book in the first half of my teens during the nuclear paranoia of the early 1980s, I felt a strong sense of identification with Ann, the surviving 16 year old who is cultivating her isolated valley and surviving the horrors of the apocalypse elsewhere. Of course, I now know that I wouldn’t have half the farming and animal husbandry skills that Ann does – I have been reduced to the position of battle bard in our post apocalyptic planning – but you know what I mean. Ann’s isolation does not stop her maintaining a sense of the positive in the face of despair, and when a man arrives in the valley, rather than being threatened or fearful, she nurses him back to health, hoping for a companion. The contrast of Loomis in his suit and Ann with her lack of fear is immediate and apparent. Of course, all does not go well, and Ann demonstrates other qualities – bravery, strategy, resourcefulness, and a refusal to be dominated, raped and subjugated. Ann has the kind of resilience we all dream of, and hope and courage that allow her to face that which would otherwise be unthinkable.

If you shoot me, you really will be alone.

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