The Lures and Limitations of the Natural Sciences: Frances Hardinge’s The Lie Tree
Frances Hardinge’s neo-Victorian young adult (YA) novel The Lie Tree (2015) revolves around the human thirst for knowledge and truth, weaving together tropes and motifs to create a genre hybrid that exposes the natural sciences, the developing field of geology and botany in particular, as a gendered domain. Gilbert suggests that the novel challenges the dichotomies of male rationality and science versus the irrational female penchant for myth, exploring what lies beyond the limits of rationality and addressing ethical questions concerning the nature of truth, its authorship and the canonicity of science. These questions place Hardinge’s text both in the tradition of science fiction and that of YA novels, as the heroine’s struggle for social acceptance and individual empowerment turns her into a relatable twenty-first-century heroine.
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