The Children of Men

I finally slogged my way through The Children of Men by P.D. James. You may recall that there was a movie out last spring which was much hyped. It came to my attention through science fiction circles that this was based off of a science fiction book. I am opposed to seeing movies without first reading the book, so I picked it up.

Slow-forward about 5 months. I tried twice to read this thing. The third time I finally finished it. Summary: I did not like the book. Blah blah blah blah blah, and so forth for 250 pages. The ideas are interesting such as: the psychological impact of having the entire human race unable to conceive children; the necessary preparations for the last people on Earth; the eventual breakdown of law and order. However, there was an overriding Goddidit theme in this book that annoyed the hell out of me. Warning, spoilers follow

The fact that men’s sperm all went limp at the same time, including stored sperm in spermbanks, is never followed up. It’s just a fact that you, as reader, are forced to accept. It’s deus ex machina in reverse, with the “poof” moment causing the problem at the beginning of the story (actually, before the beginning of the story). No explanation is ever even attempted. That a woman manages to get pregnant toward the end of the novel has no bearing on this item; the child is more important than the actual pregnancy. The main protagonists and antagonists spend the last 100 pages of the novel trying to hide/find this miracle child, but no one seems to care that Mr. Mighty Sperm should get going and screw a lot of women to preserve the race. The fact of one man being able to father a new human race is entirely ignored in the face of this new child. When the father of the child is killed by lawless hoodlums, it’s a ho-hum moment, “at least the baby is ok.” Fuck the baby! The dude with good sperm is dead!

As you can tell, I didn’t buy into the book. It may be that Ms. James was writing in a metaphorical way that I just don’t get. However, to call that book Science Fiction is to grossly misslead readers. Bill Does Not Approve (I really need to get that stamp made up).

Now, I can go see the movie. From everything I’ve heard, it’s much different from the book, and I’m a fan of Clive Owen. Here’s to hoping it doesn’t piss me off.

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One Response to The Children of Men

  1. Annie says:

    Yeah, I’d be much more concerned about Mr. Mighty Sperm and his impact than his baby.

    Admittedly, I know nothing of the book/movie plot (other than what was thrown at me in movie trailers). However, if the infertility of the human race was based on problems of women not being able to conceive, the importance of one child might be a big deal. But if there is one man who had the ability to single-handedly repopulate a good chunk of the globe (given access to enough fertile women and a good refractory period), he’d be my focus of search/destroy.

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