Saturday, 16 July 2016

The Lotus Caves

John Christopher
Puffin Books

Fleeing the claustrophobic artificiality of the Moon Bubble, 14-year-olds Marty & Steve illegally reconnoiter-the long-abandoned 1st Station &, following a clue in the journal of "never recovered" Andrew Thurgood, plunge their mechanical crawler into a fragrant, fertile warren of caves. There the enveloping moss & branches, the moving, metamorphosizing leaves & undergrowth are all part of one gigantic sentient Plant which has also provided, for the surviving Thurgood, a lush earth-like orchard & an orchestra tree programmed to play his favorite (now 70-year-old) tunes. The Plant will pamper them until, like the Odyssey's lotus-eaters, they'll relinquish all thoughts of escape. Marty's fight against euphoria, which involves arousing the lethargic, Plant-worshipping Thurgood, is quickly told--more quickly than the Lunarians-at-school episode at the beginning.

I've been bingeing on John Christopher books over the last year or so and I have a few still on the shelf.  Of the ones I've read 'Empty World' remains my favourite of all his YA books ('Death of Grass' of the others in case you were wondering).  This is another of the former type and is by far the weakest of all that I've read.

'The Lotus Caves' is the story of two boys, Marty and Steve, residents of 'The Bubble' a moon colony where life is regimented and unexciting.  Bored to tears due to the punishment for a prank pulled the two jump at an opportunity to go for an illicit jaunt in one of the surface vehicles.  Once out in the wilds of the moon they, through an unlikely sequence of events find themselves trapped in the underground domain of a sentient extra-terrestrial plant.

It's not a great read.  The core concept is weak and there's little to hang onto as the book progresses but the finale when it arrives picks up the pace considerably and the ending of the book is by far the most enjoyable part of the whole thing.

I kind of always knew I was going to struggle getting into this as I do prefer my sci-fi earth bound and preferably within Britain (hence this blog).  This was none of those but it was interesting to read a John Christopher book that took his imagination well beyond it's usual boundaries and that can never be a bad thing even if the end result is a rather mediocre thing.

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