Update: Sci-fi about the social ramifications of overpopulation, a call for suggestions
May 2, 2011 § 9 Comments
I need reading suggestions.
After reading John Brunner’s Hugo winning masterpiece Stand on Zanzibar (1968) a few years back I became entranced by science fiction exploring social themes (intelligently) extrapolated from a future Earth condition of extreme overpopulation. In the recent months I’ve read and reviewed a glut of similarly themed works of uneven quality. Many of these works were inspired by Paul and Anne Ehrlich’s non-fiction The Population Bomb (1968) which warned of the mass starvation of humans in the 1970s and 1980s as a result of overpopulation.
The ones I’ve recently read and reviewed.
1. Brian W. Aldiss’ Earthworks (1965), rating: 3.5/5 (Average)
Although a flawed novel, Aldiss’ future Earth is finely detailed and described. The work suffers from a frustrating final message and a rather banal plot. Recommended for the world alone (and those who can tolerate a jarring delivery — hallucinations, flashbacks, voiceover, etc)
2. J. G. Ballard’s High-Rise (1975), rating: 4.5/5 (Very Good)
A literarily sophisticated if mono-thematic take on the effects of living in close quarters — a spectacular and vivid depiction of the collapse (and rebirth?) of modern society. Highly recommended.
3. T. J. Bass’ Half Past Human (1971), rating: 2.5/5 (Average)
As with Aldiss’ Earthworks the ideas are fascinating — humanity genetically modified for optimal reproduction — humanity organically mechanized. However, the prose is downright atrocious — every sentence contains medical terminology.
4. Robert Silverberg’s The World Inside (1971), rating: 5/5 (Masterpiece)
One of my all time favorite works — trillions of humans living in gigantic urban monads (and one of the central characters is a historian!). Highly recommended. A dark, sublime, and thought-provoking vision…
*I’m currently trying to finish Joanna Russ’ And Chaos Died (1970) which indirectly concerns the theme — a review is forthcoming.
SO, if anyone knows of any other works exploring the effects of overpopulation please please please leave me a suggestion. I’d GREATLY appreciate any and all suggestions!