Bit of a shame, this one. Carnival starts off superbly. I love the setting, in which Bear manages to have a go at both feminist utopias and eco-fundamentalists without ever losing sympathy with the ideals that got her galaxy to the desperate state it is in. But towards the end I felt the plot tried to wrap up far too much, far too quickly, and with far too much hand-waving, thereby wasting much of the set-up. I shall leave you with some choice quotes:
The only significant natural predator that human women have is heterosexual men.
And as a consequence (though this comes earlier in the book)…
In previous societies – in all recorded societies, other than the New Amazonian – when a women died by violence, the perpetrator was almost always male. And almost always a member of the woman’s immediate family, often with the complicity of society.
And finally, on a different tack:
Kusanagi-Jones didn’t think those anything special. Perhaps they’d be more meaningful in context, but it seemed to him that their status as cultural treasures was based on their provenance rather than their art. They were historical works by women; it might be enough for the New Amazonians, but Kusanagi-Jones hoped his own aesthetic standards were somewhat higher.