A pretty repulsive book in many respects, but there were bits that were quite funny -- and which rang disturbingly true. I think that the author must...moreA pretty repulsive book in many respects, but there were bits that were quite funny -- and which rang disturbingly true. I think that the author must have been very angry about "modern life" when he wrote this book -- back in the early 50s, I believe -- and there's a lot of resentment that shows through. It's a short book, a novella, set in a very far distant future, where the troubles of the world are blamed on decisions made by people in the 20th century.
I did love the contrast between the opening of the novella and the subsequent scenes. It starts with a bucolic setting, a ceramic artist at work, and then shows us how miserable the rest of the world has become.
One thing about the end of the book, and why I am glad that I continued reading it, it seems that the author was as equally disgusted by the "solution" to the world's problems as he was by the modern life that had created it. (And I do know that there's a difference between the characters, their attitudes and actions, and the author, and that the narrator doesn't necessarily reflect the author's own views, but in this case, I find it hard to imagine Kornbluth writing this if he weren't utterly fed up with the modern world he was living in, surrounded by "morons in the making," so to speak.)
I don't know if it's possible to hide just some spoilers here, so I won't say much more about the book itself, other than the fact that if it had been longer than it was, I couldn't have finished it. As it was, it was short enough that I could manage to keep reading despite my repeated sense of disgust. It's one I won't reread, though I suppose I'm glad I did.(less)
I liked the middle and end of the book better than the beginning, though it was enough to draw me in. I've heard and seen adaptations...more3 & 1/2 stars
I liked the middle and end of the book better than the beginning, though it was enough to draw me in. I've heard and seen adaptations of the book, so as I was reading it, it felt very familiar even though I'm pretty sure I hadn't actually read it before.
I liked the moral and practical dilemmas that the characters faced, and the way they dealt with them. I liked that the main characters were decent people (I'm tired of scifi books where I don't want to identify with any of the characters), but I never felt that they became "real people" to me.
This book reminds me of why I prefer old-fashioned apocalyptic SF -- there was usually still some hope for humanity at the end. Maybe it's just me, but it seems that nowadays, the preference is for books where the end is just as bleak as the beginning. (less)
This was a fun and interesting read. Some essays I enjoyed more than others, but it was well worth the whole buck-ninety-nine I spent on it! Having gr...moreThis was a fun and interesting read. Some essays I enjoyed more than others, but it was well worth the whole buck-ninety-nine I spent on it! Having grown up in the 60s and 70s, it was fun to look back on that period. (less)
I'm torn between giving this book 3 or 4 stars. I wish we could give half stars!
It was very hard for me to get into this book. I think I was at well...moreI'm torn between giving this book 3 or 4 stars. I wish we could give half stars!
It was very hard for me to get into this book. I think I was at well past the 40% mark before I began to positively enjoy it. I normally discard a book before that point if I'm not enjoying it, but there were individual bits that I liked, and the writing was good, so I kept going with some faith that it would get better and "come together" eventually -- and I'm glad that I did keep reading, because I ended up enjoying it.
I found the way that the book changed perspectives -- including locations, group of people, and plot thread -- in every chapter very confusing at first, despite normally enjoying discontinuous narratives. I felt that in the beginning, there wasn't sufficient introduction to any of the separate groups and their plots to be able to make sense of any of them in the context of the entire book. It took about half the book for that to happen for me. Part of it may be that I've been reading it in a somewhat distracted frame of mind and there's a lot going on for me, so my brain may not have been fully engaged. Still, it took effort to try to figure each part out and how they fit together -- and that's something that I normally really enjoy in a book, but for some reason, it was quite difficult in this one.
I did like the characters, and I found that they were distinct individuals. I can't say that I loved the ending (I think there was one tragedy too many for my taste), and I did think it just sort of "ended" without feeling completed -- even though it was a logical place to have the story end. I guess I felt let down after the very long read and the work it was to get there.
If you enjoy complex science fiction with an interesting and complete society and culture(s) and characters who are imperfect, even while many of them are likeable, then you might enjoy this. Just be prepared for something that requires a bit more effort than a casual read. One thing that I really enjoyed and appreciated about the book was the number and variety of interesting female characters -- and in a book by a male author, that was refreshing. (less)