The Fifth Sacred Thing

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The Fifth Sacred Thing
5thsacredthing.jpg
Cover of trade paperback edition
Author Starhawk
Cover artist Keith Batcheller
Country United States of America
Language English
Genre Post Apocalyptic
Publisher Bantam
Publication date
1993
Media type Print (Hardcover, Trade Paperback & Mass Market Paperback)
Pages 486
ISBN 0-553-37380-3
OCLC 30569542
Followed by Walking to Mercury (prequel)

The Fifth Sacred Thing is a 1993 post-apocalyptic novel written by Starhawk. The title refers to the classical elements of fire, earth, air, and water, plus the fifth element, spirit, accessible when one has balanced the other four.

Plot[edit]

The novel describes a world set in the year 2048 after a catastrophe which has fractured the United States into several nations. The protagonists live in San Francisco and have evolved in the direction of Ecotopia, reverting to a sustainable economy, using wind power, local agriculture, and the like. San Francisco is presented as a mostly pagan city where the streets have been torn up for gardens and streams, no one starves or is homeless, and the city's defense council consists primarily of nine elderly women who "listen and dream". The novel describes "a utopia where women are leading societies but are doing so with the consent of men."[1] To the south, though, an overtly-theocratic Christian fundamentalist nation has evolved and plans to wage war against the San Franciscans. The novel explores the events before and during the ensuing struggle between the two nations, pitting utopia and dystopia against each other.

The story is primarily told from the points of view of 98-year-old Maya, her nominal granddaughter Madrone, and her grandson Bird. Through these and other characters, the story explores many elements from ecofeminism and ecotopian fiction.

Setting[edit]

In the utopia described in the novel, the streets have been dug up and are replaced with gardens and fruit trees. Additionally, every house is equipped with a small garden plot. The food is available to everyone and access to food is not limited by money, power, or ownership. Farms where the city's fruit and vegetables grow are hidden behind the blocks of homes. There is plenty of food and everyone is said to have more than enough to eat. The gardens are lined with streams that run throughout the city. The only remnants of the pavement that once existed are narrow paths meant for walking, cycling, or rollerblading. These paths are accented with colorful stones and mosaics. The city is depicted as a beautiful town where everything is shared yet nothing is lacking.

Prequel and sequel[edit]

A prequel, Walking to Mercury (ISBN 0-553-10233-8), was released in 1997. In 2015 Starhawk announced a sequel, City of Refuge, in development.

After the manuscript for City of Refuge was rejected by Bantam, who had previously published The Fifth Sacred Thing and Walking to Mercury, Starhawk decided to self-publish her sequel. She reaised nearly $80,000 in a Kickstarter campaign, and a first-edition release will be sent to supporters by December of 2015, with a general release to follow shortly afterwards. After reaching their final stretch goal in the fundraiser, Starhawk promises to also release the new book in audiobook format.

See also[edit]

The Gate to Women's Country

References[edit]

  1. ^ Schönpflug, Karin, Feminism, Economics and Utopia: Time Travelling Through Paradigms (Oxon/London: Routledge, 2008 (ISBN 978-0-415-41784-6)), p. 22 (and perhaps see chap. 7) (author economist, Austrian Ministry of Finance, & lecturer, Univ. of Vienna) (author Schönpflug named Starhawk's work as "The Fifth Element" in original but perhaps intended "The Fifth Sacred Thing", per Worldcat, as accessed Nov. 18, 2011, as no work titled The Fifth Element by Starhawk is known, per Worldcat, as accessed Nov. 18, 2011).