July 27th, 2007

pencil

perspective

I just finished The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis, having finally gotten around to it by dint of running across a copy at the library when I was browsing. The book received both the Hugo and Nebula awards - meaning both the fans and her professional peers considered it the best work of its year. I concur with the high regard.

What I think is funny is this: I knew the book was pretty grim in places - I can't think of a single conversation I'd been part of before reading it where it wasn't called depressing at least once. It deals with epidemic diseases, and in spite of Monty Python the plague isn't really that lighthearted of a topic.

Then faintheart, who had stopped by last night, noticed the book lying next to my reading chair and warned me - because I am sensitive to these things, no lie - that he had found it quite depressing.

So I was ready to be depressed, ready for death, despair, disease, and futility. I was so ready, in fact, that in spite of all these things at the close of the novel it actually seemed like a happy ending. Until I sat and thought about it some more - but I guess I find it interesting how much a couple of flowers can do to mitigate a barren wasteland, metaphorically speaking.

Recommended. Willis draws a very interesting comparison between medieval and modern attitudes toward disease/quarentine/death in the cultures of 1348 (plague) and 2054 (influenza).
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