As a fast-paced novel about a future shaped by feminist ideals of sexual and racial equality, "solution three" at first seems to be a peaceful answer to the world's problems. Homosexuality as an international norm and reproduction by cloning have minimized aggression and overpopulation. The sexes have equal rights and status, racial tension has been eliminated through genetic intermixing, and scientists work closely with the governing body, the Council, to keep an eye on the food supply and to heal the earth of prior environmental terrorism.
Except in a few outlying areas, things seem to be going smoothly. But even in the privileged center, two women are quietly rebelling. Miryam, a geneticist, is secretly married and rearing her own children. Lilac, a surrogate mother chosen to carry a clone baby, tries to evade releasing him, as customary, for social conditioning.
When a mysterious virus appears in distant wheat crops, when deviant sects kill a Council member and a Clone, when even the Clones exhibit unexpected sexual behaviour, Mutumba, the strong and wise leader of the Council, ponders whether the principle of diversity, essential to the food supply, might also hold for people. What is the cost to women of this new model for reproducing life? With Mutumba, and others, one wonders: is it time for a new solution-a solution four?
Originally published in 1975, Mitchison's visionary science fiction presents a world created by both women and men that is far ahead of our own. "Like Herland, Solution Three imagines a society in which women have used reproductive control to shape a more equitable life for all, eradicating aggression and providing social support for motherhood...Solution Three presents a new, more positive vision of science as a realm in which women could indeed make a difference, and shape the course of knowledge."-From the Afterword by Susan M. Squier.