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The Tiger Flu

3.60  ·  Rating details ·  352 ratings  ·  91 reviews
In this visionary novel by Larissa Lai--her first in sixteen years--a community of parthenogenic women, sent into exile by the male-dominated Salt Water City, goes to war against disease, technology, and powerful men that threaten them with extinction.

Kirilow is a doctor apprentice whose lover Peristrophe is a "starfish," a woman who can regenerate her own limbs and
Paperback, 334 pages
Published October 23rd 2018 by Arsenal Pulp Press (first published October 2nd 2018)
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Average rating 3.60  · 
Rating details
 ·  352 ratings  ·  91 reviews

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Feb 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book felt like I inhaled some strange, out-of-this-world, hallucinogenic drug. If you think the cover is eclectic and psychedelic, wait until you actually read this.

This novel takes readers on an absolute mind f***. There’s an exiled lesbian commune with a genetic mutation that allows some of them to asexually reproduce. “Starfish” women that can regenerate limbs and organs. An insidious technology that separates the mind from the body. A rampant, deadly disease that primarily affects men.
Another wild vision from Larissa Lai! Queer feminist biopunk ft. mewling catcoats, battlepikes with meaty sucking tubes, an all-female colony of cloned and cloning sisters who reproduce through parthenogenesis, satellite mainframes named Chang and Eng that function like sun and moon. The level of invention is supreme and never flattens out. I'm not sure the emotional weight was there for me in the end though I loved being immersed in this world.
Sep 14, 2018 rated it it was ok
Larissa Lai has created a very strange world in The Tiger Flu, a lightning fast eruption of a novel. In this future version of our earth, waves of plagues have killed off many men; Caspian tigers have been restored from extinction; famine is widespread; some women have been genetically engineered to parthogenetically reproduce or regrow parts of their bodies; metallic scales and drugs can create extraordinary, half-real hallucinations; climate change has completely changed the landscape, and ...more
Aug 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
The Tiger Flu is a horrifying, imaginative tale that I love with all my heart. Like Salt Fish Girl, it was confusing, frustrating, and rife with disgusting imagery and inventions yet also exciting, fascinating, and able to fill this “Salt Water Flat” dweller with a deep love for the fierce and persistent protagonists.

A novel about the world to come, after climate catastrophe and mass extinction, where illness, genetic experimentation, and technocracy have reshaped “Cascadia”. So much reminded
Dec 17, 2018 rated it liked it
I'm not entirely sure what happened in this book, but I think I liked it.
Will Dominique
Sep 02, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, owned, futuristic, 2018
I wanted to love this so much more than I really did. As amazing as Lai’s prose and ideas are again, I’m confused, and not in the way where I can really just go with it and fully enjoy the book anyways. I feel like my lack of understanding has inhibited my ability to really appreciate its mastery, and I wish Lai had added some more clarity. I wanted a better grasp of her world, its geopolitics, and how everything came together.
Jul 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved reading The Tiger Flu, a fast paced sci fi novel following two ultimately intertwined narratives set in a near future after the depletion of oil. Kora Ko lives in the First Quarantine Ring, struggling to survive in a world ravaged by the tiger flu, a disease which predominantly affects men. Kirilow Groudsel is a groom in Grist Village, a commune founded by escaped experiments with the ability to reproduce by basically cloning. Her surgical talents are put to use taking care of ...more
Wow, what a wild ride THE TIGER FLU by Larissa Lai feels like a psychedelic experience. It’s the Gregorian year 2145 and Saltwater City has been ravaged by the tiger flu (that predominantly affects men) and is surrounded by four quarantine rings. One of these rings is home to the exiled Grist community, an all-female group of doublers (individuals that can clone themselves), starfish (individuals that can regrow organs and limbs for other members), and grooms (individuals that attend to the ...more
Aug 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Everything about The Tiger Flu (nominated for a 2019 Lambda Literary Award) is dangerous—its world, most of its people, and its steadfastness in shaping an unconventional narrative. It’s a horrifying and fascinating vision of the future and what could happen if we embrace the wrong technologies. If you read this book, you won’t forget it anytime soon, and you may even want to go back to page one as soon as you’ve finished, just to experience it all over again.

Full review:
Sep 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that The Tiger Flu is unlike anything I’ve read before. The depth and range of Larissa Lai’s imagination is truly impressive. There’s a lot going on here: a disease called the "Tiger Flu" that mainly affects men, a group of exiled women called the Grist Sisters who can asexually reproduce, “starfish” women who can regenerate lost limbs and organs, a new technology that separates the mind from the body, major environmental destruction, and that’s not even ...more
xueh wei
Jun 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gifted
I saw a review that said "I'm not sure what happened but I think I liked it." ~ to which I say: SAME.

We are immediately thrown into a strange world where the men are more prone to being infected by the tiger flu, and on the other hand we have an asexually reproducing lesbian commune? (Or something like that, I'm not good at describing it!) It's a very other worldly read, and I've never read anything like it before.

Even though it was confusing at first, once you begin to get to know the world Lai
Mar 11, 2019 rated it did not like it
A difficult read with multiple discontinuities and difficult threads to master.
This has got to be one of the most imaginative post-apocalyptic novels I've ever read. The world building is incredible. You're dropped into this very foreign landscape with a lot of unusual terms and ideas to digest. The author doesn't hold your hand explaining stuff, and you figure things out as the characters experience them. I liked the challenge.

Kirilow Groundsel is the kind of tough, take-no-crap female protagonist I love. She belongs to a matriarchal community where women reproduce
Sep 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Great world-building and a post-apocalyptic novel partially set in a mouldering Vancouver condo tower of course gave me ideas for my own survival plan, but I couldn't figure out what was going on for quite a bit of this. I appreciate when sci fi authors show rather than tell their technological inventions, but neither were happening. It took me until the end to figure out what Chang and Eng exactly were and I'm still not sure what a scale or catcoat is.
Sep 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
one of the most exquisitely imaginative books i've read in a long time, if ever. The premise of a world post oil with various factions fighting for power isn't that hard to relate to these days. This book is about the strength of women and their attempts to survive in whatever way they can. I loved the characters of Kirilow and Kora, the Cordova Dancing School for Girls and the Grist village.
Jacob Wren
Dec 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It starts as remarkable, beautifully written sci-fi and then gradually transforms itself into some kind of literary-hallucinogenic drugs.
Apr 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Highly recommended to any Vancouverites. Strange, difficult, and fleshy.
Feb 28, 2019 rated it liked it
This book launches us headlong into a post-oil, climate-changed "Vancouver" featuring a commune of parthenogenic sister-clones, cyberpunk consciousness mainframes, and hallucinogenic Chinese herbal medicines turned street drugs. It gives no quarter. That dedication reminded me of Neal Stephenson, but the larger premise seemed more like something by Karen Tei Yamashita. @waxpoeticness recommended this to me, saying it turned every fantasy trope on its head, and I felt that. I don't know that I ...more
May 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is definitely not for everyone, but it is definitely the perfect book for me. Surreal, lyric sci-fi with good opinions.
Aug 12, 2019 rated it liked it
A hallucinatory futuristic queer dystopia seen through the regenerated fever dream starfish eyes of parthenogenic women.
May 22, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: queer
I am awed by the lengths and depths of Lai's imagination, but felt like the world-building took precedent over the plot - leaving me with even more questions than when I started. The ending sat uneasily with me - after the complexity of this queer, messy, apocalyptic, bucking ride of a novel, the finale felt a bit too clean and clear.
Apr 26, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: canadian, lgbt
I feel unsure how to rate this book. I love the feel of the author's writing. it flows so easily. This book is like a dream- with very recognizable elements and parts that you cannot figure out how they fit. Sci fi writers always have the challenge of how to tell a story in a world that is unknown to the reader and must decide how to explain this world to the reader. I find that I need a bit of explaination beyond character conversations and this is not Lai's style. I found I was frustrated with ...more
Jul 20, 2019 rated it did not like it
Difficult to follow until the last page. I barely had a clue what was going on, every chapter is prefaced with various bits of information which seem to be mostly irrelevant except for letting you know whose perspective is taken. Unfortunately, that is not the only source of confusion in this book. It's difficult to follow the exposition of this dystopian future, with regard to time or space. I have no clue what happened in the end, because where on earth were they even?
Dec 16, 2018 rated it it was ok
This got 2 stars because the premise is good, I suppose. Maybe that's really only worth 1, but I'm just sooooo happy that I finally finished this confusing load of drivel that I felt generous. I'm not even sure why I kept reading — I guess I thought the story might redeem itself somewhere along the way. I WAS WRONG.
May 08, 2019 rated it it was ok
Distinct voice with a unique personality, but difficult to follow. Its world-building takes precedent over narrative, leading to a story that takes sweat and hard work to decipher before enjoyment can trickle in.
Sep 26, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: read-in-2019
The Tiger Flu is probably one of my least enjoyed reads of the last couple years. It's a story with a lot of ideas, but almost no real execution or payoff. I found myself struggling with the read immensely as the novel is plagued with bad characters, unexplored/unexplained concepts, and a frankly empty landscape of a setting.

For a book that so obviously stakes itself on it's bizarre bio-punk setting, I can't say that any of the things in the setting itself were satisfyingly utilized. Unexplained
3.5 stars

Nope, can't do it. I was trying to think of how to cover everything about this book, and I can't.

What I CAN do is tell you about our two viewpoint characters:
1. Kora Ko, a young woman living with her uncle, mother, and brother in what's left of a suburb outside Salt Water City in "Cascadia," after multiple waves of the titular flu have swept through. Her family has scraped together enough money to send Kora to a school in the city, where she will undergo hazing, learn how to break into
Derek Newman-Stille
Larissa Lai’s The Tiger Flu is a fever dream on paper, vivid and fantastical, and full of nightmares, which is perfect for a pandemic narrative. It is a surreal story, but it comments on issues of relevance to the real world. Set in a world where a pandemic has affected men more than women, Lai’s narrative explores the power struggles of a population that fears its own erasure, but is also willing to take others along with them as their population dwindles. The Tiger Flu has been brought into ...more
Jun 24, 2019 rated it liked it
Wow wow wow this book was delightfully insane to read—I don't think I'll ever read another book even remotely like it. What kept me going was the extraordinarily imaginative world-building. Every word felt meticulously selected and the vivid imagery completely transported me into Grist Village, Saltwater City, and a variety of other wild dystopian places. I absolutely loved the creativity displayed in this book and the fact that it includes a host of queer, presumably non-white women is ...more
Feb 23, 2019 rated it liked it
Bleak, disturbing, gruesome, and the ending was just plain trippy. Not a book I'd read again, but it was well done, and I think it's not really my kinda thing but I kinda liked it? I was certainly hooked for most of it (until near the end where it got super trippy and I don't quite understand what was going on). I feel like readers who like this kind of story may find it brilliant. I feel like there was a lot of metaphors and social commentary that I may not have quite caught coz I was so ...more
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Larissa Lai has authored three novels, The Tiger Flu, Salt Fish Girl and When Fox Is a Thousand; two poetry collections, sybil unrest (with Rita Wong) and Automaton Biographies; a chapbook, Eggs in the Basement; and a critical book, Slanting I, Imagining We: Asian Canadian Literary Production in the 1980s and 1990s. A recipient of the Astraea Foundation Emerging Writers' Award, she has been a ...more
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