Wednesday 2 July 2008

Gee's Apocalypses 1

Maggie Gee is one of those talented writers who manage more in the way of critical than commercial success. She's also a literary writer who has produced a number of science-fiction stories and managed to get away with it, since those same critics invariably refuse to accept that she's written science-fiction, and instead resort to calling these stories 'fables' or the like. However, she has done at least three variations on the end-of-the-world novel. The most recent of these is The Flood, a rising sea-level book which I can't comment on as I haven't read it, though I do really like the cover.

Here it is in the hardback and slightly less good paperback versions.

In the late '90s she wrote The Ice People, a global-cooling sudden-Ice-Age story that also looks at a metaphorical Ice Age descending on the relationships between men and women. This has recently been re-released. The covers below are, in order, the original hardback, the original paperback, and the new paperback.

The Ice People is a book that works better in its parts than as a whole: I really wanted to like it more than I did. The emotional freeze between the sexes didn't really convince, being heavy-handededly managed, and there's a significant bit of society-changing technology introduced into the storyline which has some very obvious dangers, which not a single person in the book's world ever even considers until it's too late.

The newest edition's cover is interesting because it both improves on the original paperback's horrible Vic-20-style graphics, and because it is so reminiscent of another science-fiction novel look at the gender divide. This is Philip Wylie's The Disappearance, which begins with every woman in the world being suddenly moved into one parallel universe, and every man into another, creating two Earths with only one gender, unable to reconnect. The original novel came out in 1951--this is the a reprint by the Bison Frontiers of the Imagination series.

By the way, if new Ice Age books do appeal, and you're interested in comics, try Nicolas de Crecy's Glacial Period. This is an odd and charming little graphic novel about a group of archaeologists and their genetically engineered talking sled-dogs digging down through the ice to rediscover the treasures sealed up in the buried Louvre.

The original French edition of this book was one of four graphic novels actually sponsored by the Louvre.

Getting back to Maggie Gee, her third apocalypse novel is The Burning Book, a nuclear war story. We'll look at that in a future post.

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