Sunday, November 14, 2010
Farnhams Freehold by Robert A Heinlein
A book by Heinlein I had never even heard before I got it from the bookmooch. No wonder this book is fairly unknown.
A fairly dysfunctional family has gathered for dinner. The father has built a state of art bomb shelter, as they live close to an army base. The evening is disturbed when the Soviets start a nuclear strike. The family, a friend of family's daughter and a black servant/handyman working for the family all retire to the bomb shelter. They survive the attack which involves an almost bull's eye hit, and emerge from the shelter. To their surprise all marks of civilization have disappeared, there are no radioactivity, no ruins or devastation. Surroundings are green and there is plenty of game around. They assume that the nuclear explosion has sent them to an alternate universe or something like that. They settle down, but soon they discover that they are not the only humans around. The black people rule, whites are mostly fairly well treated slaves who have been made docile by selective breeding, upbringing and castration. There are some slight racist undercurrents in the book :-) (but fewer than it might seem from the short description). As most things Heinlein has written this is a very readable book. If it is an enjoyable one, is a different matter. The characterization is pretty bad and one-dimensional. None of the characters is likeable, some are extremely irritating. Hugh's son is a sissy “mama's boy” to unbelievable degree. His daughter is “papa's girl” up to hinting that she is willing to have an incestuous relations with her father. The servant is “Uncle Tom” who later switches sides while still behaving in a totally uncritical way. A good thing was the plot which was very unpredictable, especially as I didn't know anything about the book beforehand.