Saturday, July 24, 2010

Make Room! Make Room! by Harry Harrison

By the eve of the millennium Earth's population has exploded.  New York City alone supports 35 million. There's not enough food or water, the rivers run dirty and the air is barely fit to breathe, and fossil fuels have long since been exhausted. And yet, birth control is a controversial concept that causes fear among the majority of the people, who revile it as "baby killing."  

Andy Rusch, a good cop trying to make his way in a city that is able to provide less and less for him, is assigned a pointless investigation--in addition to his regular job of working the riots that break out regularly in the wake of ever more severe food and water rationing--into the murder of a local black market wheeler-dealer. In the process, he inherits the bad guy's sweet gal, but that's about all he gets…aside from hungrier, thirstier, and more and more tired.

Make Room! Make Room! is a dystopian novel about a future world that in the baby-booming fifties and sixties must have seemed to loom just around the corner (anybody remember the "Stop at Two" campaign?). Thankfully, Harrison's direst predictions have not come true, although his portrayal of the obstinacy of the human race in the face of inevitable misery is chillingly believable. Harrison's prose style is matter-of-fact, devoid of too much invented jargon or futuristic talk. And although in some ways Make Room! Make Room! might seem dated--I don't think there's much fear of overpopulation anymore, at least not in the First World--with just a few tweaks--climate change, anyone?--the story is all too believable.

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1 comment:

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