Tuesday, September 06, 2005
Book Number 35
Wolf & Iron (1990) by Gordon R. Dickson
Gord Dickson (1923 - 2001) is a Canadian born sci-fi/fantasy author. This is the first of his books that I ever picked up and I did so because it pops up occasionally on post-apocalyptic book lists. He does, however, have a large canon of writing which I think I avoid because I always thought him to be fairly lightweight. And his covers are pretty bad.
The premise of this book is that in a collapsed (there is no reason given for the "collapse") society a sociologist, "Jeebee" Walther has to travel across the country to try to reach his brothers ranch in Montana. The hero was a scientist and one strangeness of this story is that he feels his knowledge of "quantitative sociodynamics" will be critical to the ultimate rebuilding of society.
So off he goes, bumbling along the the P-A highways where at a certain point he frees a large canine from captivity. As it turns out, this is a Wolf and they forge a wary relationship together. They travel. In the forward to the book, a professor writes about how Dickson was criticised for an earlier iteration of this novel for having his Wolf act like a dog. He therefore consulted widely with academics as to the "real" behavior of a Wolf and constantly writes Wolfy passages.
In the second act, Jeebee hooks up with a small wagonload of peddlars who teach him some skills and bring him out of his shell somewhat. The paths of these two groups must diverge ultimately if he is to make it to his brothers place before winter. Various man vs. the hard land scenarios ensue and a satisfactory conclusion is reached.
If you are looking for a bland story about pioneer survival in the foothills of the northern USA, then this is the book for you. I am not averse to the exploration of the social dynamics of a ruined or rebuilding society. I'd say Ballard has covered those issues extensively. I assume that by adding a Man/Wolf dynamic to the story, the author hoped to lift his book out of the realm of the ordinary. Not so much.
Posted by Jason L