Written by Robert Charles Wilson, this is a portrait of an imagined 22nd-century America, in which Julian Comstock reflects the political and social turmoil in today’s world. The most poignant political themes in the novel are the separation of Church and State, religious freedom, the US‘s dependency on oil and the increasing monetary gap between the middle and the upper classes. Additional themes include America’s consumer-driven society tainted by the desire for excess and the dangers of viral mutation from antibiotics.
This novel takes place after the age of oil, in feudal caste society. The presidency is no longer determined by election but is inherited or appointed. The whole of North America is the new USA and the USA is still at war with the Europeans, who are labeled “the Dutch,” over Canada’s northern territories. After the end of oil, an indentured class is created, these citizens sell the only thing they own, their own bodies, in order to survive.
Julian Comstock, a member of privileged class, sets off to find America and himself. Julian is accompanied by two companions, Sam and Adam, who are of the working or indentured classes. The three involuntarily get drafted into the army and are sent off to fight the Dutch. The three eventually return as heros to New York, now the US’s capital. Soon the group is threatened by their political ties to the president and Julian is faced with overwhelming opposition from the powerful Church/Feudal run government.
As well as a political novel, Julian Comstock is a coming of age story. I would recommend this book to both adults and older teens, especially lovers of Science Fiction.
About the Author
Robert Charles Wilson, born in 1953, has been a full-time professional writer since 1986. He has published 14 novels, numerous short stories, and several non-fiction pieces and book reviews. He lives in Concord, Ontario, with his wife Sharry, a professional proofreader. Wilson received the Hugo award for his novel Spin in 2006.