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08 February 2007

The Children of men

A tough book by P.D. James

When I came back from Munich I had run out of books. So I went to a bookshop at the airport and looked what I could get. What I got was "The Children of men", from P.D. James, which had lately been turned into a movie. It's been a tough book for me and I can't imagine any sane Hollywood movie coming out of it...

The story is a "near future" science fiction piece. The world isn't that much different (no flying cars), except for the little difference that there haven't been any children born for 25 years. Now that makes for one ugly world setup. Amongst the aging humanity there is an absolute mass depression and a lot of other mean stuff going on. The book's britain has been turned into a quasi-dictature.

It's always been my theory that science fiction writers take on or multiple trends in todays society, put a ruler to the page and extend the trend curve till it drives the point home. P.D. James did that with the averaging of the western society. Where we face the crumbling of todays pension funds, in the book they face a world where everybody is old and sooner or later in need of help. There are scenes where I had to take breaks from reading and I've read some ugly stuff before.

So, did I consider it a mistake buying this book? No way. It's a nightmare, but as nightmares go, reading it was an interesting experience. It also made me think about some things from a different angle. It's not the book you want to read when you want to feel warm and cozy, but when you can take a tough gedankenexperiment and run with it.

Would I go watch the movie now? I don't think so, since I can't see any movie reaching the "slowly boiling up" atmosphere of the book. There is a lot of patience in the book, detailed descriptions of plants and trees while you, the reader, wait for disaster to strike. To me it resembled to reflect the feelings of someone struck by an accident and unable to face it, instead focussing on some irrelevant detail. At some points it was too much, and I must have skipped a couple of half paragraphs. A movie would probably have to skip lots and lots of that or boil it down a slow shot of the scenery from time to time. If I'd go to see the movie then likely more out of curiosity on how far they got with this book.

Posted by betabug at 09:30 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
ch athens
Life in Athens (Greece) for a foreigner from the other side of the mountains. And with an interest in digital life and the feeling of change in a big city. Multilingual English - German - Greek.
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