Saturday, 30 December 2017

The Children of Men

P.D. James
Penguin Books

The Children of Men is a story of a world with no children and no future. The human race has become infertile, and the last generation to be born is now adult. Civilization itself is crumbling as suicide and despair become commonplace. Oxford historian Theodore Faron, apathetic toward a future without a future, spends most of his time reminiscing. Then he is approached by Julian, a bright, attractive woman who wants him to help get her an audience with his cousin, the powerful Warden of England. She and her band of unlikely revolutionaries may just awaken his desire to live . . . and they may also hold the key to survival for the human race.

I've been after reading this book for a good while now.  I'm a sucker for a piece of post-apocalypse cinema and had very much enjoyed the film which I found to be very evocative of the British film and TV dramas of the early 70 that shaped my tastes and when I discovered who had wrote the original text it seemed so out of character that I was more than a little intrigued.  It's taken me a little while to track down a copy but I'm very glad I did.

The basic story is quite different to the movie.  Obviously the baby bit is there but the circumstances of the mother and the events are all different.  Here we have a middle aged university lecturer named Theodore Faron who is essentially an uncaring loner who's closest friend is an uncaring sociopath who runs the country.  Into his life arrives a small group of wannabe revolutionaries determined to bring down what they see as an unjust and uncaring government but with no practical ideas as to how to do so or what to put in it's place (other than themselves).  Theo is increasingly drawn into their incompetent revolution and finds himself on the run with the first pregnant woman in 25 years.

What I liked about the book was it had a real old school Britishness  about it.  The revolution is feeble, the tyranny is measly, the characters are petty and everything is entirely amateurish and slapdash.  The movie version felt a bit more American - I'm going to stress the 'bit' part - and I suppose more up to date but I like the griminess of the book more.  It's got the feel of a Le Carre but one wrapped up in a Survivors or Threads like post apocalypse setting all of which went to making it irresistible to me.

Buy it here - The Children of Men


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