Interesting concept, poor writing, lots of pompous pontification
I am open to the concept of a collapsing society, and while I am not convinced that this will happen in the next few decades, it is certainly a possibility. I enjoy this genre of fiction, and I have a great deal of respect for McCarthy's The Road for its masterful, poetic writing and profound themes, for Bacigalupi's The Windup Girl for its handling of a multitude of modern dangers and compelling plot, and for Atwood's Oryx and Crake for its bold premise of humanity re-engineered and also for its fluid writing.
Kuntsler's World Made by Hand, on the other hand, also contains interesting and important ideas, but these are masked by poor, overly explicit presentation of Kuntzler's world view, and by poor writing, wrought with cliches.
Example one: "with his bare hands" This is how the book's villain is tagged by Kuntzler. The villain is suspected of strangling his first wife "with his bare hands," and that trite phrase is repeated a few times.
Example two: This same villain was a motorhead before the collapse, someone who loved snowmobiles, four wheelers, and NASCAR, and who didn't seem at peace without the whir of an engine next to him. OK, I'm a backcountry skiier and whitewater kayaker and I have no great love for snowmobiles or jet skis, but I don't look down on people who do like these things. No, I don't want a snowmobiler polluting the atmosphere of a national park with the roar and exhaust of the engine, but I am prepared to compromise with snowmobilers who also pay taxes and thus support national parks. This villain is two dimensional, a bit like the bad guys cruising around on the oil tanker in Waterworld, and all of us, hillbilly, yuppie, hippie, and entrepreneur are party to the imposition of possibly great social and environmental costs to future generations due to our consumption.
I respect Kuntzler's efforts, but this is an awkward hybrid between an essay and a novel.
This novel is terrible and beautiful, like all of McCarthy's work. His writing will stand the test of time and, unless the world ends up as it has in this book, he will be remembered and read for generations.
This is an excellent book. I thoroughly enjoyed it and appreciate Bacigalupi's effort to project a world some 100 years (more or less) in the future when humanity faces some of the possible consequences of our current free-market fundamentalist hubris and techno-philia.
When compared to McCarthy's The Road, the writing only earns a B, but McCarthy sets a high bar, as one of the greatest living wordsmiths of English.
The combination of how different present-day factors might form a future world is the most compelling that I have ever encountered, and I've also read David Brin's Earth and Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake, as well as, dystopian classics, including the grandaddy of this genre: Zamyatin's We as well as Brave New World, 1984, and Fahrenheit 451. In this area, Bacigalupi is setting the standard for other dystopian authors, including McCarthy, and gets an A+ in my book. :)
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