Ready for a little apocalyptic mayhem ? A little dystopia? Today, I’m looking at the newest from a science fiction master, Frederik Pohl. All the Lives He Led, which was released last week by Tor Books, marks the latest in a career that spans 70 years since his first novel, Elegy to a Dead Planet, came out in 1937. Boggles the mind, yes?
ABOUT THE BOOK: With a keen eye for the humanity in any situation, science fiction icon Frederik Pohl has crafted a compelling new novel of a not-too-distant future we can only hope is merely science fiction. When Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 A.D. it gave so little warning that Pompeiians were caught unawares, and many bodies were preserved in volcanic ash. Two thousand years later, in 2079, Pompeii is a popular theme park eagerly anticipating Il Giubeleo, the Jubilee celebration of the great anniversary. But Vesuvius is still capable of erupting, and even more threatening are terrorists who want to use the occasion to draw attention to their cause by creating a huge disaster. As the fateful day draws near, people from all over the world—workers, tourists, terrorists—caught in the shadow of the volcano will grapple with upheaval both natural and political.
MY THOUGHTS: Hell’s Bells, as Harry Dresden would say, who am I to review a book by Frederik Pohl? I mean, really. Here’s some of the interesting things the official blurb doesn’t tell you. The book is told from the point of view of Brad Sheridan, a young American indentured servant. He’d been a member of the solidly upper middle class until the massive eruption of the geyser at Yellowstone sent America into a tailspin. Suddenly, his family found itself in a relocation camp (read: slum) in Staten Island. With no real future, he signs on as an indentured servant to work at the big millennial anniversary of the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in a futuristic Pompeii that has been recreated as a theme park. Kind of Disneyland, first-century Roman style. Brad, of course, gets caught up in the terrorist plot and a runaway virus and the threat from Vesuvius itself. It’s a very cool world, a frighteningly possible political scenario, and a fascinating read. It builds slowly for those of us used to the runaway pace of urban fantasy and paranormal fiction, but the payoff is worth the wait.
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