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Reviews from October 2014 (27)

Death is no friend to man, not ever.” 

Malevil

By Robert Merle (Translated by Derek Coltman)

29 Oct, 2014

Translation

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Today’s translated work is Robert Merle’s Malevil, first published in French in 1972 and translated into English by Derek Coltman in 1973. I remember it being pretty popular in the 1970s, enough that it got a movie adaptation in 1981, but as far as I can tell it has almost entirely fallen into obscurity1 and out of print. That’s a pity, because Merle has some interesting angles on well-tested tropes.

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Once, women had lived with men; the thought was appalling.

The Shore of Women

By Pamela Sargent 

29 Oct, 2014

Rediscovery Tuesday

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1986’s The Shore of Women takes us to a time in the distant future after nuclear war has nearly destroyed civilization. Just as it happened in Suzy McKee Charnas’ novel Walk to the End of the World, those in charge after the war decided to lay all of the blame on one sex. This time round, the people in charge are women and the ones assigned scapegoat status are the men. 

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Within this car, a family is burning alive.”

The War Game

By Peter Watkins 

27 Oct, 2014

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There’s a cognitive deficit that shows up in my family on my father’s side frequently enough that I have wondered from time to time if it’s an example of nature or of nurture. It is an inability to tell if, when an opinion on a matter is solicited, the person or organization asking is actually only interested in a positive answer1. I myself am entirely free of this deficit but I know it when I see it in others. Peter Watkins seems to have at least a touch of it because I would wager that at no point did BBC say to him please produce a short piece on the subject of nuclear war for The Wednesday Play that both the BBC and the government will conclude is too horrifying for the medium of broadcasting,” and yet that is exactly what he did.

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When the Cities Ended

The Long Tomorrow

By Leigh Brackett 

26 Oct, 2014

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You

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The great war between the American-led allies and their enemies killed untold millions as cities burned across the planet. In the aftermath, victorious America resolved that the means to preventing another nuclear war was to prevent great concentrations of people. Accordingly, the 30th Amendment forbids communities of more than a thousand people and limits density to no more than two hundred buildings to the square mile. 

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The best of the Heinlein juveniles

Citizen of the Galaxy

By Robert A. Heinlein 

24 Oct, 2014

The Great Heinlein Juveniles (Plus The Other Two) Reread

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Some of this will come across as negative so I’d like to begin with Citizen of the Galaxy is in many ways the most ambitious of the juveniles and it was that ambition that put Heinlein’s blind-spots out where I could see them.” This could easily have been a much more straightforward, much less interesting space adventure book.

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Return to Hiroshima

Barefoot Gen

By Keiji Nakazawa 

22 Oct, 2014

Translation

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Like Masuji Ibuse, Keiji Nakazawa (19392012) was a native of Hiroshima. Unlike Ibuse, Nakazawa was in Hiroshima on August sixth, 1945 and while he and his mother survived the destruction of Hiroshima, his father, two sisters and younger brother died as a result of it. Nakazawa’s manga series Barefoot Gen is a thinly veiled autobiographical work, telling the story of the destruction of Hiroshima and the immediate aftermath from a small boy named Gen, just the same age the author was when Hiroshima was destroyed. 

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they rejoiced to find an enemy they could conquer at last.”

Walk to the End of the World

By Suzy McKee Charnas 

21 Oct, 2014

Rediscovery Tuesday

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Sorry about the cover image. For some reason none of the nice images of the original Gene Szafran would let me save a copy. 

Rather like yesterday’s Canticle, Walk to the End of the World examines the Earth transformed by nuclear war – the Wasting – but where the mob in Canticle turned on the intelligentsia deemed responsible for nuclear weapons, the handful of high officials who survived the final war in their hidden Refuge decide that the true villains were not the men who finally pushed The Button, because that would mean accepting responsibility. Instead they decide to blame all who opposed them and so made that war inevitable: 

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The shark swam out to his deepest waters and brooded in the old clean currents. He was very hungry that season” 

A Canticle for Leibowitz

By Walter M. Miller & Jr 

20 Oct, 2014

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Walter M. Miller, Jr. was a respected and prolific author whose career as a published author was confined for the most part to the 1950s. Despite the comparative brevity for his career, he won two Hugo awards in that time, one for The Darfsteller” and one for the only novel he ever published while alive, A Canticle For Leibowitz. If modern audiences know Miller at all, it’s usually for this novel. 

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