Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Second Judgement

I've been reading again. I'm sure I deserve a reward. I finished a book in the past week I found to be interesting to say the least. But to be honest, I'm not entirely sure how I feel about it. At times I was excited and on the edge of my seat, while at others I was bored and thinking of quiting the book altogether. That doesn't happen to me very often. I think this is probably the product of a talented but not-yet masterful author who is putting forth a great effort - just not quite ready for prime time.

The book was fine though, at it's heart it's really a story about Eugenics. Interesting topic to say the least, if it weren't for Hitler it would possibly still be practiced today in much of the civilized world.

It's easy to forget, but at the dawn of the twentieth century evolution was still a somewhat newish concept and many intellectuals were wanting to take an active role in shaping the future evolution of mankind. Like breeding of dogs, cattle, or sheep, people would be encouraged to breed if they were deemed smart, healthy and attractive while those that weren't were to be sterilized. Despite the revulsion I'm sure it makes everyone feel now, laws were put in the books in many U.S. cities and towns that did force persons below a certain IQ level to be neutered, or even forbidden to marry. Do yourself a favor and read the Wikipedia entry on the subject It'll blow your mind.

So this story is another take on the subject. What if aliens told ancient humans that they've failed as a species, that they were doomed to extinction by a wrathful alien entity... unless they could improve their stock over the course of a few thousand years?

A group of prehistoric humans are whisked away from earth and transplanted on an engineered world near the galactic core where they spend several thousand years enacting a rigorous Eugenics plan to improve the species before the aliens arrive to judge humanity again.

I like the concept and I was intrigued from the get go. However, I think I was disappointed in the end by the feeling that the dialog that the characters use throughout the book reminds me of what I might have found from a fantasy book from the 70's, that is to say, it feels a bit silly. The teenagers (as all the main characters in this novel are) might have also been pretty preoccupied with screwing one another, but the way that the the second half of the book unfolds I spent too much time rolling my eyes at how the characters acted - I kept waiting for an impromptu orgy to break out.

So the answer to the unasked, yet still burning question - what is the end result of thousands of years of intense evolutionary pressure to produce the perfect human? Horny teenagers.

But that orgy never did break out, and despite my annoyance at every character in the book - I still enjoyed it. This isn't classic literature, but it's still entertaining. The author at least tries to answer some of the questions that get raised during the story at the end and that is commendable. After all, I am a sucker for that sort of stuff.

For a guy that spent his adult life as a politician, he does a nice job as a sci-fi writer, the flaws of the book aren't enough to turn me off to him. My advice to William Drinkard: Stay out of politics, write more sci-fi.

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