Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Given this short science fiction novel was written in the early 1950s, it has dated very well indeed. Wilson Tucker has written a short, tight and very readable novel that examines what happens when people are suddenly cut off from their own support networks. The United States government forgets the survivors in the east. When they try and cross into the safe areas they're mercilessly gunned down. But the radio tells stories of another enemy spy prevented from entering.
To say much more would ruin the plot. If you want to get the spoilers, the Wikipedia entry has a fairly comprehensive breakdown of what happens. Tucker portrays a dog-eat-dog world. But one with surprising amounts of human solidarity. Given its early publication date (1952), I was surprised to see a polygamous relationship at one point. Tucker may well have been ahead of the curve when compared to some other SF writers of his era.
One final point. The original story had a darker, bleaker ending according to Wikipedia. Interestingly, given that this barely ends on a positive note, I think I'd have preferred his original one. Wilson Tucker was a new author for me, but one I shall return to on the strength of this novel.