Monday, January 15, 2007

07.01 Implosion by D.F Jones


Implosion (1967) by D. F. Jones
Hardcover, Putnam, 223 p.

2007 begins with a post-apocalyptic implosion! D. F. Jones is a British science fiction author best know for Colossus, the novel (and film) of the intelligent supercomputers. I also reviewed another disaster novel of his here on the Report called Denver Is Missing.

Implosion has been sitting on my shelf awhile and I decided to pick it up because it looked like it might have some similar themes and ideas as the current film (and PD James novel), Children Of Men. Like that story, this one concerns the decline in the female birth rate. The UK is attacked by a shadowy Soviet bloc country with Prolix, a water soluble agent that renders women sterile. In the storm of discovery a new government is swept into power that promises to retaliate for the attack and do all it can to rehabilitate the country. In the middle of all this is Dr. John Bart, our protagonist.

The novel follows him as a newly elected Minister of Health who becomes one of the most powerful men in a country where 95% of the women have become sterilized. The government must resort to draconian measures to even have a small chance of keeping the country going. They create large breeding centers where all fertile women are taken to be constantly producing babies as the 'Mothers of the Country'. Children are moved into vast schooling camps to keep them away from dangers like road accidents.

Concurrent with all the story of all these national and geopolitical machinations, we follow the drama of Dr. Bart and his newly pregnant wife as she is sent off to one of the breeding centers. Massive government propaganda campaigns convince her of this necessity but ultimately she begins to question whether treating women like cattle is tenable.

The book is not too bad. It was interesting to think about how you would try to keep a country going where the population was going to plummet to barely a fraction of what it once was. The interpersonal storyline, however, was really dated and kind of unbelievable.

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