Sunday, June 19, 2005

Book Number 21

Denver Is Missing (1971) by D.F. Jones

coloss18Dennis Feltham Jones is famous for penning the Colossus trilogy of sci-fi books. The first, Colossus (1966) was made into the 1970 cult classic Colossus: The Forbin Project. Dr. Forbin builds a computer so powerful it makes nuclear war obsolete. But what neither Forbin nor anyone else suspects is that Colossus will gain consciousness and chart its own destiny as well as mankind’s.

denverismissingIn Denver Is Missing a young geologist out of San Francisco is on a deep sea exploratory drilling mission off the coast. His group is trying to gain information about the earths structure beneath the mantle. Unfortunately, their drilling pushes through into what turns out to be an unexpected phenomenon. This starts a chain of catastrophic geological events that release deadly gas into the atmosphere and tsunami-creating seismic activity.

The story primarily focuses, however, on two couples. The geologist and his girlfriend who have joined forces with a Brit sailor and his young plaything. The four of them choose to take to the sea to escape the chaos escalating in the cities of the West Coast. The majority of the book is taken up with their exciting adventures at sea as they try to sail away from a world gone mad.

The novel seems very influenced by the British school of 60's world-disaster novels written by, say, Ballard or John Christopher. The hero is a scientist who is often involved in a specialty that relates directly to the apocalypse. He has a dispassionate eye for the decay of the social destruction of civilization and there is a healthy dose of sexual politics thrown into the mix.

The ending of the book left me somewhat cold with it's idealism but, all in all, a good read and an excellent addition to the canon of post-apocalyptic fiction.


Olman Feelyus said...

Another good review. Nice find, too. Did you read the Collossus trilogies yet? We probably should. The second one was in the basement in my mom's apartment building and I flipped through it. The writing looked decent.

-Conan, the Foreskin Project

Matt Jones said...

'Denver is Missing' is an interesting find. I hadn't ever heard of it, and it isn't commonly cited in lists of post-apocalypse fiction as is 'Alas, Babylon' and 'Lucifer's Hammer'.

Apparently Dennis Feltham Jones is British, and 'Denver is Missing' seems to have been published in the UK as 'Don't Pick the Flowers'. You imply that the ending is more hopeful than the typical British genre novels, more like some of the later American work echoing fears of the Cold War.

I'm going to keep an eye out for this one and Christopher's 'The Long Winter', and I look forward to more book reviews here.