Based on the fascinating book by Naomi Alderman, THE POWER is an Amazon Prime series about an evolutionary change in humanity that threatens to dramatically alter the balance of power between the sexes. The result is reaction, struggle, and possibly a new natural order. This is stunning sci-fi at its best.
The story follows a woman who is the mayor of Seattle, her family, a reporter in Nigeria, a teenager connected to a minor British crime family, a teenager on the run for murder who is taken in by a home run by nuns, and the wife of the dictator of an Eastern European country infamous for sex trafficking. Each provides a lens and focal point for a bizarre twist in evolutionary history: young women everywhere have been born with an organ that like an eel allows emission of electrical discharge.
Suddenly, their hands now able to become literal weapons, women gain an incredible power, which some learn to tune in many ways both curative and lethal. This proves disruptive in countless ways and may just threaten the existing order. As men increasingly feel threatened and unsafe, however, a major conflict may be brewing…
I read THE POWER some years back and found it a powerful work of speculative fiction. At first, I was hesitant: was this going to be good fiction or a thinly veiled social statement? Happily, it’s very much the former with the right amount of the latter. Alderman holds nothing back, both regarding the routine fears and injustices women face that can now be corrected, but also the inherent tendency of power to create injustice. She even dares to say that maybe if women ruled the world, it might not look that different than the way it does now, which I think took courage.
The only criticism I had of Alderman’s book was she didn’t have the space to go very deep with a concept that honestly had so many facets. The show didn’t have that problem. In fact, I’d expected this to be a miniseries, but where it ended left a ton of the book on the table; the show is not finished, and I hope it will be renewed so we can get more. The show takes its time and goes quite deep and expansive with ideas, and it all feels realistic. In particular, I also enjoyed how even-handed it is about the way things are and why they’re that way, and while the focus of the story here is on women, all the men get their say and they’re not always wrong. And the cast is terrific, notably Toni Collette and John Leguizamo.
Overall, I loved THE POWER and I’m looking forward to another season. As an author, I’m envious at the loving and lavish treatment Alderman’s book received, though it certainly deserved it. Again, this is sci-fi at its best, the kind of story that makes you think and feel something new.