Saturday, July 10, 2010
Julian Comstock: A Story of 22nd-Century America by Robert Charles Wilson
Julian Comstock is a nephew of the president of the United States in 22nd century. The United States consist of most of the North America excluding the northern parts which are occupied by “Dutch”, which means middle-Europeans in general. The president is elected in an “election” where there is only one candidate, and the landlords are able vote for their workers. Julian’s father was a war hero who was executed after trumped up charges of conspiracy. Julian himself has lived on countryside hiding from his uncle, and while living there he has made friends with Adam Hazzard, a country boy with aspirations to be an author. The oil has run out, cities have fallen, population is diminished, and religious police, Dominion, rules. (And apparently all alternative power sources, like nuclear energy, wind power and hydroelectric power have been forgotten). Life isn’t as unpleasant as it might be, rather it is fairly peaceful in a kind of 19th century way. Julian and Adam try to escape draft, but end up in military and to the front line of battle against Dutch. Slowly Julian rises in the hierarchy to end which has been fairly inevitable from the start.
The writing is interesting, as the character describing the events clearly isn’t as smart as most of the other characters, and often doesn’t fully understand what is going on and why. That style is reminiscent of Mart Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, as was also the style of writing. The story was entertaining, but it was a fairly straightforward tale of power and how power corrupts. Somehow I was expecting something more. The world building was very good - but I would have liked to have a closer look to what is happening and has been happened in the Europe.
As a Hugo award nominee, this book is going to place to somewhere middle-places in my voting list.