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Posts Tagged ‘dystopias’

BBAW: Forgotten Treasure

September 16, 2010 13 comments

Partially open treasure chest.Sorry to have missed yesterday’s topic!  I’ve been ill this week, which unfortunately meant only the pre-scheduled posts made it through…until today that is!  Today’s BBAW theme is to highlight a book that we wish would get more attention/would be more well-known.

It was honestly kind of difficult for me to pick just one book.  I’d say around 1/3 to 1/4 of my reading is random obscure scifi/dystopian novels that I wish would get more attention.  Actually, I wish dystopias would get more attention in general.  I think they’re such an excellent way to explore issues and philosophically think about possible outcomes to modern decisions.  In fact, I think the world would be a better place in general if everyone would just stop and seriously think before making decisions….but that’s another topic for another blog post.

Artistic depiction of a person laying in a pool.In any case, there’s a book that I read this year that I’ve certainly never heard mentioned before anywhere–Robert Silverberg’s The World Inside (review).  I knew I loved it, so it made it to the Wolfy Recommends page, but I had no idea how much it would stick with me.  I can’t tell you how many times since I read it that I’ve gone back in my head to that world to ponder all the implications.

The World Inside is relatively short.  In fact, you could almost call it a novella, and it is easily read in one sitting.  That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t contain a full story, however.  The World Inside examines the issues of pro-life versus pro-choice and overpopulation by looking at a future in which most of the world is vehemently pro-life, and the impact that the massive population has had on the world, society, culture, and individuals.  Silverberg imagines a future in which the world can handle a massive population via “urbmons”–incredibly high-rise buildings that contain the equivalent of entire nations.  Stacking people up on top of each other like this makes it possible to devote most of the rest of the world to food production.  Silverberg therefore is able to fully develop both the culture within the urbmons and the culture that produces the food.

Whether Silverberg is for ever-increasing population or not is deliciously unclear.  His future is a world where all privacy is absent.  Where diversion from the norm is unacceptable.  Offenders get only one chance then they are “sent down the chute” aka given capital punishment.  It is a world where all life is welcomed, yes, but at what cost?  The solutions to overpopulation he presents are ones that make sense, but he also clearly shows the costs on the individual.  Life as a whole is valued so much that the individual is discounted.  On the other hand, he uses the farming culture to show how always choosing the individual over the whole could also be perceived as unfair or barbaric.

This book is an intriguing, eye-opening read.  It is nearly impossible to put down once you pick it up, and I believe it would do wonders to opening true dialogue between the opposing viewpoints on world population/overpopulation.  No matter what your viewpoint is on the issue, it will do wonders to expand your mind and make you think.  That’s why I love dystopian literature, and that’s why The World Inside is an excellent taste of the genre.  Plus, its length makes it easily accessible to those who might be nervous about trying dystopian lit for the first time.  I highly recommend it, and I hope to start seeing buzzing about it in the book blogging community.

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