Bringing Forth the End of Days by Simon Law
|Bringing Forth the End of Days by Simon Law|
|Category: Science Fiction|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: A distinctive look at a near-future end-of-days scenario, with some slight flaws but great energy and memorable scenes galore.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 392||Date: June 2009|
|Publisher: Strategic Book Publishing|
Imagine the hell of a dying world, less than a generation from now. World War Three has been and gone - ended with conventional bombs galore but started by a plague on all plant-life, that removed all the oxygen from the planet's atmosphere. As a result, the few survivors must live in air-tight houses with special oxygenating equipment - the ultimate in air conditioning - or, they must have got in early with a special biomechanical adaptation that allows them mobility and independence, but at a freakish cost. Worse, religion has mutated - the Jehovah's Witnesses are now the most violent gang, rushing to nudge what's left of humanity towards its final judgment. Worse still - even worse than all of that - you're living in Crawley.
Such is the scenario faced by four human survivors, one of whom has been adapted as mentioned. They're soon to meet a fifth and sixth survivor, to form a very raggle-taggle community. And throughout all the trials and tribulations as they struggle to survive, one of the band will emerge as appearing to be more than what at first they might seem.
This is a very engaging set up for an end-of-days scenario, and while the book has more holes in the more you think about it (why don't the Jehovah's Enforcers just play their upper hand and demolish all the air machines?), there is little room in the breathless story (no pun intended) to actually pause for that thought. This doesn't fully apply to the beginning, however, as the mixture of flashbacks to form and define characters, daily action, and exposition needed a little more punch.
But before long there are more than punches - we get drop-kicked and more into submission. One scene is particularly fond of the claret, and this turns out to be quite a violent book - forever justified and reasoned, thankfully.
The science in the science fiction was introduced well, and all of it I remembered from my school days seemed to ring true. The author doesn't quite create a fully realised life a decade from now though. People still play CDs - and argue the merits of Kylie, pre- and post-cancer. The most upmarket, automated cars still have real old-fashioned door-keys.
I'll be generous as well and say he fully intended the dialogue to be as mundane and bland as this. There are certainly meaty scenes of argument between firmly realised characters, but a lot of the humdrum existence before things start to kick into gear is just that - humdrum.
And to clear my sheet of critical comments, I felt I guessed too much of the answer too early. But that seems churlish when considering how quickly and how happily I paced through the book after that - there was still a lot to go that confirmed my suspicions - to some extent - and that was the core of the book, which was a core that is wholly to the author's credit.
This will go down as a science fiction adventure of laudable scope and energy. The drive of the plot, in both scenario and psychology of characters, is spot on, and the cinematic depiction of the empty waste of south-east England welcome in this genre, and brings to mind something like Danny Boyle's films.
I can't see this being successfully filmed, however. I'd be quite happy for it to remain as the book it is, despite my nit-picking earlier. It contains scenes, suppositions and circumstances that will stay in my mind for quite some time. I certainly won't ever change trains at Three Bridges without having this brought to mind.
I must thank the author for sending the Bookbag a review copy. And I suppose I should justify the Crawley gag - I'm from near Horsham, I couldn't help it.
You can read more book reviews or buy Bringing Forth the End of Days by Simon Law at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Bringing Forth the End of Days by Simon Law at Amazon.com.
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