The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

The Falling Woman concerns the efforts of Elizabeth Butler (Liz) to achieve self-understanding by choosing between the unknown past and present reality. Liz must decide whether to fulfill the wishes of a Mayan ghost, Zuhuy-kak, who believes the blood sacrifice of Liz’s estranged daughter, Diane, will restore power to an ancient Mayan goddess. Her option is to deny this past world that she cherishes and accept the present world she loathes. Six chapters, interspersed with ones devoted to Liz and Diane, describe ancient Mayan customs and cyclic concepts that emphasize the key Mayan belief that people need to know and understand their past in order to understand their future. Two characters, Diane and Zuhuy-kak, exert emotional and psychological pressures on the central character, Liz, while Tony Baker provides comforting support.

Liz is an archaeologist, lecturer, and writer whose youthful efforts to secure freedom to develop her talents resulted in a nervous breakdown, attempted suicide, divorce, and loss of child custody. At the Dzibilchaltún dig, co-directed with Tony, Liz exists on the psychic border between past and present. Seeing both sides, she simultaneously observes ancient ghosts and modern humans pursuing daily activities. In these ruins, Liz talks to herself, daydreams about the Mayan shadows who ignore her, and reflects that psychiatrists would suggest that these supernatural phantoms are hallucinations, parts of herself projected...

(The entire section is 517 words.)