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3.59  ·  Rating details ·  2,559 ratings  ·  76 reviews
The discovery of another habitable world might spell salvation to the three bitterly competing power blocs of the resource-starved 21st century; but when their representatives arrive on Jem, with its multiple intelligent species, they discover instead the perfect situation into which to export their rivalries. Subtitled, with savage irony, 'The Making of a Utopia', Jem is ...more
Paperback, 312 pages
Published April 1980 by Bantam (first published 1979)
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4.5 stars. Another classic science fiction story by Pohl. Great world-building of a future Earth split into three factions and all vying for control of a new planet (aka JEM).

Nominee: Hugo Award for Best Science Fiction Novel (1980)
Nominee: Nebula Award for Best Science Fiction Novel (1980)
Nominee: Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel (1980)
Feb 22, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf-masterworks, sf
Although ostensibly a story about first contact and colonising another planet its real focus is on how the politically rival forces on earth rip each other apart and, exporting such tensions to the new colonisation expedition, how the colonisers nearly do the same to each other there as well.

Initially I found it quite hard to get into and I wasn't particularly enjoying it for a long part of the story. It failed to convey the wonder of space travel and exploration of an alien planet. Things picke
Kelly Flanagan
Apr 03, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I actually finished the book yesterday. But this book made me think very hard and I am still unsure of how I feel about it. It definitely is a 4-5 star book. Yet, because of the strength of the book it also losses a star. It was too true for me. And hence the issue before me. Just because I found the truth of human(ity) too hard for me to comfortably read,does that mean it should be given a star less? Or should i go by the point that the book is so well written, too well written I think. Again ...more
Andrew Breslin
May 10, 2014 rated it it was ok
Pohl is considered one of the big hitters of 20th Century science fiction. He was tireless and prolific, writing and editing great droves of stories and books and founding important SF publications, sometimes cranking out a couple of novels and then creating a new venue for the genre before breakfast. So I certainly respect him and his contributions to SF, even if I didn't enjoy my first foray into his work, which I did not.

I'm pretty sure I "got it." I don't think the deep and important themes
Aug 02, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf-masterworks
Jem was written in 1980. In context, the 1980s were the later stages of the cold war, which saw the two dominant super-powers: America and the Soviet Union square off against each other in covert operations and subterfuge. The Soviet war in Afghanistan happened in 1979, and the People's Republic of China was starting to make themselves known on the world stage.

On the back of this, Pohl wrote Jem, a future novel where the world has consolidated into three political blocs: Food, Fuel and People.
Feb 03, 2012 rated it liked it
This novel deserves 3.5. It was very slow to start and was packed full of racial stereotypes, but the last third was very good and there were some very strong women present throughout.
I didn't like how 90% of the men in the novel were sex-obsessed assholes who badgered women to have sex with them despite the women saying no. I mean, maybe it was a just a couple guys, or just Ana's perception of men, but it seemed like everyone but Dalehouse was a pig, which isn't very fair to men. The book was
Ian James
I have probably read this three times now, first time was probably in 1979 or 1980.
The first time I read it, I was 19 or 20 and I was initially very taken by the newly discovered world and its alien species. I was looking for a complete exploration of the 3 species, their biology, culture and their world, but instead I was disappointed that the book focused so much on the humans, and political strife back on Earth.
Reading it again now, I realize that it was really an allegorical criticism of the
May 16, 2017 rated it liked it
What an odd book.

This book was published in 1979, a time of oil shortages and famines, still very much at the height of the Cold War. So what feels pretty dated now was incredibly relevant then.

Three world factions, locked in a power struggle, representing those who own the oil, those who can grow all the food, and then a somewhat pathetically portrayed communist bloc. All of the factions are pretty terrible, but they're portrayed as especially incompetent.

Anyhow, they discover a new planet thro
Althea Ann
Rarely have I read such an apallingly negative view of humanity... that's not a bad thing, but nevertheless, I didn't love the book. It's probably the most interesting work by Pohl I've yet read, however.
Dec 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fred Pohl (1919-2013) would not be on my list of Top Ten SF writers, but he was a consistently good as well as prolific writer during his long career. I had read "Jem" before, back in the 80s ( it was published in 1979 ). But all I could remember about it was that it was a very grim story concerning colonization on another planet. I also remembered that Bulgaria played a role in the story! It is about colonization of another planet--sometime at the turn of the 21st Century, and a particularly g ...more
Aug 06, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
My rating probably should be 3.5, but that’s not an option so three it is. This one is a slower starter than many of Pohl’s titles, in part because there’s a lot of info that is conveyed as background and contextual detail, particularly as regards the sociopolitical situation on Earth. Just as that is laid out for us, we are presented with several significant races on a new planet. The perspective changes from chapter to chapter, so it takes a fair chunk of the book up front before the key chara ...more
Terry Quirke
Hard to get into but rewarding as the story evolved. I really struggled to get going with this book and was around 40% of the way in before I started to enjoy it.

The characterisation was over the top but I think that was to help enforce the morals of the story about the perils of rampant capitalism, colonialism and nationalism and the inability of humankind to just get along and share what's needed rather than trying to lord ownership over one another.

If read against when it was written during
D.L. Thurston
Mar 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
What this book isn't: A novelization of the television show of the same name. Which I found outrageous. Truly, truly outrageous. However, I got over it pretty quickly as I kept reading.

What this book is: An indictment of industrialism, capitalism, nationalism, and colonialism. If you don't want to see the darker side of some or all of these -isms laid bare, this may not be the book for you. I have conflicted-at-best opinions of all four, so a book where all four are taken to task was a fascinati
Jun 03, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, sf
It was such a mess. The political blocs on earth didn’t make any sense to me and I felt like Pohl didn’t take the time to explain them so that they would make sense. So they felt too contrived. The characters were shallow caricatures. Danny Dalehouse was the only likeable character and there was no real pushback to the aggressive winner-take-all mentality even though everyone supposedly wanted to create this utopia. Danny, as likeable as he was, was a weak voice of reason. The whole concept was ...more
Andy Love
Jun 02, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Why do bad things happen? Are wars and genocide the product of the actions of a few hyper-evil people? Pohl's answer in this novel is that major historical events are not caused by single figures of great virtue or great evil, but rather by the small actions of everyday people due to impulse, greed, and misunderstanding, with a large dose of chance. Pohl heaps scorn on the "brinkmanship" philosophy which argued that one can rely on one's opponents to recognize that your actions take things too c ...more
Dec 29, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf
A satire, surely, on imperialism and colonialism as a crisis-riden. resources scarce planet earth views Son of Kung, the first Earth-like planet within reach of its tachyon technology inter-stellar travel.

Only problem is that Son of Kung - re-christened 'Jem' after the first colonists from the Peoples Bloc are swept aside - already has three sentient races. Pre-technology maybe, and living in evolutionary competition with each other, the populations of tunnel-dwellers. land-crabs and 'balloonist
Jul 27, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
...Jem is not a light story, at times Pohl's commentary on human behaviour is almost cynical. Although parts of the novel appear to be a bit over the top, the author gives the reader plenty to think about. Pohl certainly does not spare us the darker side of human nature. Some science fiction likes to portray exploration of the stars as a scientific and humanitarian effort, one that will lead the species to an utopian future. In Jem, base human emotions such as greed, aggression and mistrust are ...more
Ciencia ficción escrita en los setenta. Todo es guerra fría, vietcong y crisis del petróleo. Con mucho esfuerzo pero a velocidades taquiónicas se está colonizando el planeta Jem, con aliens muy extraños pero mentalmente idénticos a los aborígenes terrestres y su relación con civilizaciones tecnológicamente superiores.
No es muy profundo pero en su último quinto mejora bastante, (view spoiler)
Fiction,Science Fiction,National Book Award
Neil Thomson
In the 21st century the world is not a happy place. Resource scarcity is a major issue and Earth has split itself into three major power blocks, loosely called the Oil block, the People block and the Food block. They really don't enjoy an uneasy peace complete with friction and the constant threat of hostility.

So when a new potentially habitable world is discovered, it is a mad scramble to reach it first to exploit the resources it may offer. Three key figures in the scientific and political c
Thomas Sounness
This movie has from it's writing a clear sense of late 1970's fear and anticipation of what society will arise from the political governmental behemoths moving through the world. While published in 1979, it talks of governing blocks, of nations racing for status, of women being empowered but ruthlessly, and of the rules not to be broken by normals, but to be swum through by those gifted by power, money, status and a lack of ethics. So, we have a SF novel that has a few interesting pieces of actu ...more
Jun 04, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi
The Earth is divided among three factions, in a prolonged cold war, until a new habitable planet is discovered. The fragile balance falls apart on the homeplanet, while on Jem the native species are exploited, resources are harvested and the cold war politics are replicated.

The characters are not particularly interesting (maybe except for the cynical Russian pilot), the story is rather long and is mediocre at best - while I really enjoyed Gateway and disliked the Quantum Cats, Jem is somewhere b
Dec 09, 2018 rated it liked it
second read - 1 June 1994 - *** I was less impressed on this re-read, while in my late 30s. It is a first contact story story on a colony world.

first read - 2 January 1981 - **** I read this while in grad school, as part of my intention to read all hugo and nebula award novels, as it was nominated for both. I was very impressed.
Dec 25, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
In interesting take on future world politics and human nature extrapolated from 1979. It is rugged and militaristic in a way common in works of a similar time period. Overall it is inventive but very limited in scope and focus and doesn't really draw the reader too deeply into the characters or story.
Apr 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Most of the characters in this story spend way too much time being sexist and not enough time avoiding nuclear war or marveling at the first contact with other sentient beings. It's somehow pretty good in spite of itself.

Like, several negative stars for the reams of pointless sexism, and 5 stars for the plot, the aliens, and the ladies (Marge and Ana).
Aug 26, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Very dark. Strange ending almost seems an afterthought instead of a wrap-up of the original story line. Maybe it's just my mood. Pohl's commentary of exasperation with the tendencies of humans to self-destruct.
Mildly interesting. FTL travel seems unlikely in the setting of the book.
Jan 18, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Yeah! She's totally electric!

Wait. Wrong Jem. This one is about space travel and power-rivalry. Probably the other one is more fun.
Ben Brackett
Brought down by spurts of really uneeded narrative.
Dec 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A compelling and depressingly accurate (probably) view of humanity's pettiness and exploitation of anything and everything. It starts slow but the last third of the book was gripping.
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Frederik George Pohl, Jr. was an American science fiction writer, editor and fan, with a career spanning over seventy years. From about 1959 until 1969, Pohl edited Galaxy magazine and its sister magazine IF winning the Hugo for IF three years in a row. His writing also won him three Hugos and multiple Nebula Awards. He became a Nebula Grand Master in 1993.
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“And so in that moment he completes the process of growing up. And begins the process of dying. Which is much the same thing.” 2 likes
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