She who would be king: Novels put feminist twists on Chinese emperors

Cosplayer Xiran Jay Zhao got the idea for Iron Widow after watching the 2018 Japanese anime Darling In The Franxx.
Cosplayer Xiran Jay Zhao got the idea for Iron Widow after watching the 2018 Japanese anime Darling In The Franxx.PHOTOS: ROCK THE BOAT, COURTESY OF XIRAN JAY ZHAO

SINGAPORE - In the dystopian world of Xiran Jay Zhao's novel Iron Widow, humanity is under attack by aliens.

Girls and boys are drafted into the military to pilot Chrysalises, towering mecha fighting machines, in pairs. The girls - or "concubines" - usually do not survive because their minds are consumed by the male pilots to power the Chrysalises.

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