Robert Charles Wilson's Julian Comstock: A Story of the 22nd Century
was pressed into my hands by my editor, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, seconds after I told him that I absolutely, positively could not
take any more books with me because I was totally snowed under, a year behind on my reading. "Read this one," he said. "It's worth it."
It was worth it.
The early jacket copy for Julian Comstock reads, in part, "If Jules Verne had read Karl Marx, then sat down to write The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, he still wouldn't have matched the invention and exuberance of Robert Charles Wilson's Julian Comstock." Damn right.
Julian is the story of a world sunk into feudal barbarism, 150 years after Peak Oil, plagues, economic collapse and war left the planet in tatters. Now, America (grown to encompass most of Canada, save for deeply entrenched Dutch and "mitteleuropean" forces in the now-verdant Labrador) is ruled over by a mad hereditary president, whose power is buoyed up by the Dominion, a religious authority that represents the true power in a nation where the new First Amendment guarantees the right to worship at any sanctioned church of your choosing.
The president's nephew, Julian Comstock, has been squirreled away to "Athabaska" to escape the attention of his uncle, who has already assassinated Julian's father, fearing a coup. In the bucolic Alberta farms, Comstock befriends Adam Hazzard, the charming, naive and eloquent narrator of the story. Hazzard is the son of a bondsman who is attached to the feudal territory of the local lord, and is an outcast due to his adherence to a disfavored sect of snake-handlers.
The president is determined to eliminate the threat that Julian poses to his throne, so he issues a general order of conscription for young men to go to the Labrador front and die before the Dutch. But Julian and Adam escape the local press-gang and enlist elsewhere under an assumed name, so that Julian will not be singled out for suicidal duty. As he distinguishes himself in battle, Adam chronicles his adventures, and the two embark on a grand, rollicking, gripping adventure that overturns the entire nation.
Politically astute, romantic, philosophical, compassionate and often uproariously funny, Julian Comstock may be Wilson's best book yet -- and that's saying a lot of a man who has already collected a shelf full of awards for books like Spin.
Julian Comstock: A Story of the 22nd Century on Amazon
Update: Lorna Toolis from Toronto's excellent Merril Collection science fiction library adds, "could you mention that Bob Wilson's Julian Comstock is being launched at the Merril Collection, Thursday, July 2 at 7:00 P.M?"
Modern civilization has all but disappeared. It falls to a fearless, dedicated and slap-stick bunch known as Post-Apocalyptic Nomadic Warriors to help humanity recover. With help like this, you might be better off on your own! Benjamin Wallace’s first installment in the Duck and Cover series is a quick and witty read. We find America […]
This beautiful collection of all twenty paintings, and eight drawings, assigned to Hieronymus Bosch, may be replacing the Codex Seraphinianus on my coffee table for a bit. These surreal masterpieces by Netherlandish artist Jheronimus van Aken, better known as Hieronymus Bosch, are reproduced beautifully, on lovely paper, and are thoughtfully arranged. Some pieces, such as […]
Is “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” actually about psychedelic drugs, British colonialism, or penis envy? Depends who you ask. At the BBC, Hephzibah Anderson surveys 150 years of weird readings of Lewis Carroll’s classic book. From Anderson’s essay: Re-examining the text, critics found plenty of gynaecological imagery, from the rabbit hole itself to the curtain that […]
The realm of web development is constantly evolving. New platforms, languages, and processes materialize all the time, so staying on top of all that innovation is a tall order.Whether you’re brushing up on new tricks, starting from scratch, or just looking to make your own website a little jazzier, Rob Percival’s new Complete Web Developer Course 2.0 (now […]
Folks used to rely on alarms to protect their home – and before that, the family dog. Now, anyone looking to guard their homes can choose from some high-tech options, including the Amaryllo iCamPRO FHD Home Security Camera (now just $219 in the Boing Boing Store).In fact, this 2015 CES “Best of Innovation” award-winner boasts so many features, it’s […]
If you want a quality vaping experience, it’s usually going to cost you. Vaporizers that deliver a fast, controlled burn will set you back up to $300, which is why the FEZ Vaporizer (now just $99) is an absolute steal.The FEZ dry herb pen does everything that more expensive models handle at a reduced price. It heats up […]