1902 – After Awhile

Images taken with shallow DOF (this one with the Nikon 50/1.2 AI-S wide open) are always a playground for your imagination. No, these are not tombstones in an old cemetery, but they could be. Or anything else.

I have just finished Garth Nix’ “Shade’s Children”, a sci-fi novel set in a clever variation of the all-too-familiar post-apocalyptic world. After the “Change” there are no adults any more. Children are raised in prison-like dorms, and at their fourteenth birthday, aka “Sad Birthday”, they are taken away to the “Meat Factory”, their brains and flesh to be used as raw materials for creatures used in war games of the “Overlords”. This is a book about the fates of four escapees who join the rebel group led by the artificial intelligence Shade.

In the sci-fi genre, “Shade’s Children” is innovative just as Garth Nix’ “Abhorsen” trilogy was in the fantasy realm. And it captures you. Took me three days through the book, last night I went to bed at 4:30, five hours later I was reading again, and at 11:00 it was done πŸ™‚

The Song of the Day is “After Awhile” by Jack Teagarden with Bud Freeman & His Famous Chicagoans. Hear it on YouTube.

9 thoughts on “1902 – After Awhile”

  1. Thanks for the book suggestion!

    I reserved the book from the local library, and while looking at the book metadata noticed it being classified as a “children’s book”. From what you write this doesn’t seem to be a book for children.

    1. Well, it’s not exactly horror, at least as long as you don’t try to visualize things πŸ™‚

      Like all of Nix’ books it is labeled “young adult”. I probably wouldn’t recommend it for anyone younger than 12 years, but on the other hand, if I at 12 had been denied access to books like these on terms of not being mature enough, I would have seen this is a severe violation of my human rights πŸ™‚

      No, really, the book portrays a world where humans are seen as animals, right to be used as raw material for artificial creatures used in violent war sports of the “Overlords”. Interestingly enough the question of where those children come from is never really touched. It is assumed that there is some kind of breeding, but really we are never told.

      I don’t know if he went for that analogy, but in a way this is not so different from how we treat animals. For reasons of convenience we just assume that they have no personality and no consciousness, but of course we assume the opposite from our pets. It’s really only to be able to treat them as material. Kinda scary, huh?

      The level of violence in this book is average, probably on par with the LOTR. A certain familiarity with the concept of sex is assumed as well. Two characters at least speculate about having sex (although there is nothing graphic) and in general sex is not treated as a taboo but instead as something positive that happens. Very natural and healthy I’d say. There’s a twist to this as well, but I don’t want to give it all away.

      I suggest you read it for yourself. It’s definitely enjoyable for adults, and then you’ll see if you feel comfortable giving it to your children, or what sorts of concepts you want to talk through with them first.

  2. I read the book, and quite a fast read it was, Nix knows how to tell a story. Also the language is relatively easy to read, fitting the “young adult” category.

    The basic premise is an interesting mixture of science fiction and fantasy, the story isn’t terribly original but there are nice inventions and twists here and there. The four major human characters are not too deeply described, but the action is what matters in a story like this. Some of the plot twists were easy to anticipate, but the intended audience is probably not so jaded by plot intrigue as I am.

    And I liked the fact that given the rather horrible story setting the novel wasn’t very violent. Another writer would probably indulged in much more graphical manner in the gory details, and that would have spoiled the atmosphere.

    I couldn’t resist reading the last page of the book before reading the novel, a thing which may have spoiled the big surprise at the end. This is a personal failing, I seldom can resist peeking at what is in the end of a book.

    Thanks for the recommendation, the book was well worth reading.

    1. Juha, why on earth do you do that? Reading the last page?? I normally try meticulously to avoid reading even what’s on the jacket πŸ™‚

      But anyway, glad you liked it.

  3. I have a theory that a book is a good one if reading the last page doesn’t spoil it. And this works in surprisingly many cases, even with detective stories and such. (And I suspect that some authors even play with the last page to make the ending obscure.)

  4. By the way, after reading the Nix book I happened to read a book by Jasper Fforde, the first in a (planned) trilogy, “Shades of Grey 1: The Road to High Saffron”.

    This book also describes a future society, after some big “change”, several hundred years into the future, a world which seems quite familiar (a satirical version of UK) but at the same time quite frightening (it turns out to be a totalitarian regime of the most awful kind). Fforde mixes science fiction with societal satire in a rather original way.

    I have never read anything by Fforde before, and this was a very positive surprise. He has written a lot of other stuff as well.

  5. So it is. But it is interesting to think why this is so.

    Greed and power seem to be interlinked in a complex manner. All politicians seem to be corrupted by power the instant they get some (well, there may be one or two exceptions, although I doubt it). And almost everyone wants more, more, more of things to own, selling themselves another way to the same sources of corruption.

    I have been reading essays of Emma Goldman, and what she wrote a hundred years ago describes the world we live in: big industry does not care a bit what happens to peole, all that matters is the capability to produce more with less cost.

    And what she wrote, that all in the end depends on personal choices, that is disturbingly true: there is nobody to blame but each one of us.

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