Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Children of Men

The Children of Men by P.D. James was originally published in 1992. My hardcover copy has 241 pages. I originally read The Children of Men when it was first published. The reread was well worth my time. Recently there was a movie released based on this novel. I have not seen the movie and have no plans to do so because I can't imagine a movie capturing the nuances in the book. Excellent novel and highly recommended.

Synopsis from cover:
The year is 2021, and the human race is - quite literally - coming to an end. Since 1995 no babies have been born, because in that year all males unexpectedly became infertile. Great Britain is ruled by a dictator, and the population is inexorably growing older. Theodore Faron, Oxford historian and, incidentally, cousin of the all-powerful Warden of England, watches in growing despair as society gradually crumbles around him, giving way to strange faiths and cruelties: prison camps, mass organized euthanasia, roving bands of thugs. Then, suddenly, Faron is drawn into the plans of an unlikely group of revolutionaries. His passivity is shattered, and the action begins.

"Early this morning, 1 January 2021, three minutes after midnight, the last human being to be born on earth was killed in a pub brawl in a suburb of Buenos Aires, aged twenty-five years, two months and twelve days." first sentence

"All over the world nation states are preparing to store their testimony for the posterity which we can still occasionally convince ourselves may follow us, those creatures from another planet who may land on this green wilderness and ask what kind of sentient life once inhabited it. We are storing our books and manuscripts, the great paintings, the musical scores and instruments, the artefacts." pg. 4

"Twenty years ago, when the world was already half-convinced that our species had lost for ever the power to reproduce, the search to find the last known human birth became a universal obsession, elevated to a matter of national pride, and international contest as ultimately pointless as it was fierce and acrimonious." pg. 4

"We are outrages and demoralized less by the impending end of our species, less even by our inability to prevent it, than by our failure to discover the cause. Western science and Western medicine haven't prepared us for the magnitude and humiliation of this ultimate failure." pg. 5

"The year 1995 became known as the Year Omega and the term is now universal." pg. 6

"I wasn't an easy child to love. And how could we have communicated? The world of the terminally ill is the world of neither the living nor the dead. I have watched others since I watched my father, and always with a sense of their strangeness. They sit and speak, and are spoken to, and listen, and even smile, but in spirit they have already moved away from us and there is no way we can enter their shadowy no-man's-land." pg. 25

"We know it's a risk but it's one we have to take. Please meet us. Please at least hear what we have to say." pg. 42

"Ageing is inevitable but it is not consistent. There are plateaux of time stretching over years when faces of friends and acquaintances look virtually unchanged. Then time accelerates and within a week the metamorphosis takes place." pg. 45

"The fact is that the Warden runs Britain as his private fiefdom. The Grenadiers are his private army and the State Security Police are his spies and executioners." pg. 65

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