The children of the man who created a scientific invention that could destroy the world are the subject of ‘John’ the journalist’s interest in this dystopian novel which I found under Science Fiction at my local library. I’m not sure that it qualifies as Sci-Fi, given that someone has already invented something as dangerous as ‘ice nine’; the atom bomb.
The children, a dwarf, a giantess and an infantile man are damaged by their life with their father and later reveal the secrets of his death and the fact that they have each a fragment of ice nine which can, and will, destroy the earth. Our journalist finds them on an island in South America where Frank is high up in government due to the possession of this fragment. All of the characters are deeply flawed, in fact weird, yet the reader can believe in these stunted 20th century monsters. This novel is a rumination on the ‘progress’ made by science, and in this it is not new. What is new is Vonnegut’s way of viewing the world. He is not afraid to tackle the larger issues of his time and this makes him required reading. He also does it with flair and characterstic light touch.
Wow! No wonder this one won an award.
It was bleak, terrifying and nervy. At several times in the narrative you find yourself really edgy at the fate of this father and his young son. This post modern-post apocalytic fable really creates a link between these protagonists and the reader. We immediately place ourselves in the narrative and it’s an uncomfortable experience. However, this is balanced with real hope. The boy and his father love each other so much that this is the only thing that keeps them going throughout the horrors they experience and bear witness to. Their journey takes them across an America that is dead in every way that matters. The only survivors prey on each other as there is nothing left. The boy and his father have to avoid all human contact if they are to reach their destination. At several points in the narrative I found myself wondering what I would do in this situation. Would I just give up? What is is about human nature that keeps us going? Is it the philosophical idea of the will to live?
It’s hard to believe that I read this in one evening. It was truly unputdownable. Read it, I won’t give away the ending.
Anyway, the Ballard book, it has an interesting premise, a man’s father dies in the modern equivalent of a house of worship, the shopping centre but there is something sinister about the centre and the way that it draws people in…..
Yet another dystopia, I do have a penchant for them, but only well written ones. So far so good in this case. Ballard has already got me interested even though I don’t particularly like the protagonist. He’s a former adman who is looking, not too hard mind you, for his father after his death. In his journey to find out who this man was he becomes fascinated by the world around Metroland. More on the J G website .
Stay tuned weaders.
Well, this is proving to be an interesting phenomena. After reading the book, I thought I’d do some research and have a look at what other people were saying. There’s a great website run by the author here. This takes you to a page of reviews, the author’s comments, a discussion board and a political justiifcation for the book (as if that wasn’t obvious).
and then….. Mr Bolt decided to review the book for me. I was obviously very glad to have his view on the whole thing, given that he agrees so vociferously with the political sentiments of the author. Oh, hang on, he really hated it; quelle surprise! He’s right of course, what do left-wing, chardonnay swilling, intelligentsia know about books? They always read the wrong ones. Take Orwell for instance, we shouldn’t read him, he criticised his own society in a shameful way. tut tut.
Maybe we should all live in a world where we agree with our governments and don’t nitpick over silly little things like human rights, and lies, and the moral abyss created by a government that allows other countries to lock up our citizens, without charges, because we may disagree with the political sentiments of the accused (or not accused, as the case may be). Oh dear, silly me, am I using too much hyperbole? Must be reading too much of the Herald Sun’s darling of the right again.
Ok, so I did manage to finish this. Well, it had a few interesting twists, some plausible, some not so I’m afraid. the bad guys turn out to be our government after all, I won’t give you the details, but hey, it is distopian, you’d guessed that already right?
Our hero, does not save the day, which is refreshing, but he is saved. I won’t give away who saved him. Some of the plot events are a little far fetched, even for me, and I like fantasy novels. So it will be interesting to see what the lit crits make of this one.
All up it was worth reading, but maybe my expectations were too high; I loved White Earth and expected a similarly high level of prose and plot. I got the high level prose.