Wednesday, December 31, 2008

08.33 The Long Tomorrow by Leigh Brackett

The Long Tomorrow (1955) by Leigh Brackett

This is another post-apocalyptic novel that I have had sitting on the shelf for a long time but never gotten around to reading.

Two generations after a nuclear war America is a rural society. The Constitution forbids towns larger than 200 people or more than 100 buildings. The prevailing wisdom is that cities were the root cause of the war and that technology development will lead again to great destruction.

Len Colter and his cousin Esau are teenagers in the New Mennonite community of Piper's Run. the boys sneak out one night to a strange revival meeting where they witness the stoning to death of a trader who is supposedly involved with the rumored town of Bartorstown, a place where technology is being developed. The boys secretly steal a radio from the traders wagon and although they don't know how to use it they both become interested in the forbidden technologies.

Ultimately they are caught and harshly punished by their fathers leading them to flee down the Ohio River to the larger town of Refuge. There they both fall for a young woman and become involve with a group who is pushing to grow the town larger than it's constitutional limits. Fleeing a confrontation with the traditionalists, both boys are finally brought to Bartorstown where they learn the true secret of it's technologies.

This novel, while interesting, failed a little for me. The ideas developed of the rejection of technology and blind adherence to faith were all well done however when it came to the end the author never seemed to take a stance either way. I think the book in its time pushed the envelope but now seems a bit dated.


Buzby said...

Did you want the author to take a stance on whether the rejection of technology was a good or bad idea? I suppose that he could take the stance by describing the ultimate success or failure of the society but wouldn't the book be a little too political with that kind of argument weaved in?

August West said...

I'm probably the rare person that never read a Leigh Brackett Sci-Fi novel. But I read every mystery novel she wrote and I can say she was one of the best in that genre.

You got me rethinking about grabbing one of the hers from the SF realm. I love your posting on "The Long Tomorrow."
The 50s stuff interests me....

Olman Feelyus said...

The premise is certainly intriguing. How did they keep the population of the towns to their limit?

Lantzvillager said...

To Buzby: The third act of the book really explores those questions in greater detail however, I think the author tried a bit too hard not to take a stand so consequently things get muddled.

To OF: It was constitutionally forbidden and most people were religious, law-abiding citizens. There was also an inherent fear of tech that nuclear war had created.