Conserve and Control is written from the margins. Characters who are non-binary, working class, disabled and trans take central place as we are transported to a queer and green paradise that, like all utopias, is not to be trusted.
As a working-class activist and sex worker, Otter Lieffe brings nuance to the ethics of work, kink, sex and activism. In this, her second novel, she explores what it might mean to really create political change and asks who gets left behind in the process. She invites us to step up and take our place in the struggle and bring our fabulous complexity with us to the front-lines.
Power takes many forms. So does resistance.
Time has moved on and the City is no longer a place where queer folk live in fear or face expulsion. The forest, once burned to flush out resistance fighters, is now a protected nature reserve. In Espera, there are trans politicians and queer business leaders and the streets are lined with permaculture gardens. But the riches of a green lifestyle are not for everyone.
Growing up in a poverty-stricken neighbourhood with his refugee family, Aq works as a security officer for the Union. He works too hard and sleeps too little. Until he meets Carl Kingson, a businessman made rich by conservation. As Aq quickly learns, Kingson has a fetish for servitude and if it involves money, so much the better.
Outside the city, Teal, a trans woman, and Cyan, her non-binary research partner, find themselves on the front line as the forest is threatened yet again by a new wave of eco-developments.
Teal dreams of the days of Ash and Pinar, the celebrated heroines of the Uprising, and wonders if the stories of Ash’s journeys through time might be more than just legend. But living in the shadow of the great reserve fence and its army of guards, Teal and Cyan are closer to resistance than they could possibly know.