Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A History Of The Future

James Howard Kunstler was best known for his dystopian non fiction until he made the move to fiction in 2008.  I reviewed his first novel, A World Made By Hand, in 2010.  The US Economy and for all intents civilization has collapsed suddenly.
The reasons really don't matter, there are hundreds of scenarios that might result in such a collapse.  Only the strongest and the brightest are able to survive and move from a 21st century technocratic society to a 19th century agrarian society.  The first novel centers around the town of Union Grove in up state New York.  For more background read my review of the World Made By Hand.
 A History of the Future is the third novel in the series.  It takes place about 2 years after the first novel.  Union Grove has made great strides in organizing thier 19th century civilization.  The benevolent feudal lord Bullock  still runs his estate although he is out of spare parts to repair his water powered electrical generator so he too will soon have to do without electricity.  Brother Jobe who is the head of the cult/commune has become an important part of the community because  included among his flock are engineers and skilled tradesman.  He opens a tavern and restaurant in town which serves as a gathering place for the people of the time.
The thing that really makes this 3rd novel different is we learn what is going on in other parts of what used to be the United States.  In the first novel Robert Earle's  son Daniel takes off with a friend to see what is happening in the rest of the country.  Daniel returns after two years on Christmas eve.  He is nursed back to health by the local doctor and then begins to tell his story.  It is almost a novel within a novel.  I understand that in the print version of the book his story is actually is actually presented in a different font.
All three novels are dystopian Science Fiction and Kunstler does not try to pass them on as predictions.  For someone best known for non fiction Kunstler does as good a job of any author I have read of creating characters with depth and personality.  I recommend all three novels in this series for the joy of reading.
Originally Posted At The Moderate Voice