Wednesday, December 16, 2015
Book Review - A History of the Future
What I have found strange for the last few years is that the one author out there I seem to be the most an agreement with when it comes to a post collapse North American setting was the most progressive/Liberal/Multi-Cultist of the lot as far as I could tell. At least in his open political views anyway. From what I have read in other articles, opinion pieces, interviews etc. I would just as soon old Jimmy-Boy take his political views on a mercy mission to the Congo and never return. Although a report on how that worked out for him and what type of seasoning they used in his cook pot would be an interesting read.
I had been wondering when Mr. Kunstler's political shoe would drop in his "World Made by Hand" Series of books and it finally began falling with the this third novel. Strangely enough though his flight of fancy into attacking Southern White culture still didn't completely detract from the story as much as it should have for me but in fact it was presented as a relatively unimportant sideline in the story that I was mostly able to ignore it and focus on what was going on around the town.
Basically "A History of the Future" takes over where "The Witch of Hebron" leaves off. The little town of Union Grove is still chugging along. Some growth is coming back, mostly fueled by the Cult-like, kinda Christian group known as the New Faith Church that took over the local High school under their leader Brother Jobe.
I still don't see how this group is actually Christian in anyway other than Kunstler saying they are but we won't go into all that.
They have opened a pub and are working on a community laundry operation. Their entire organization is now to the point of challenging the local land owners in power and prestige. I noted that Kunstler was now turning one of the local self styled Barons into a bad guy slowly but surely in this novel. Perhaps a set up for the fourth book I imagine.
Without giving too much else away I will say that Kunstler's work is a journey into character studies of just how the lack of fossil fuels will transform our society and effect different personality types in different ways. What we think of as successful traits today will not always transfer well into a simpler future, and that change or loss may effect people in often violent ways. These sidelines into character development have been the most appealing aspect to Kunstler's work to date for me anyway.
Now how Kunstler has gotten away from spewing his warped political views into these novels before this one is obvious. He simply placed his town in a very non-diverse rural setting so the real issues his actual views bring up are just not there. He basically can ignore them that way and focus on the groups and individuals. Although there is some strive and conflict it is generally only the type that still fits into what one would find in a single culture setting so there is always a common ground to work towards a resolution from.
In "A History of the Future" however Kunstler is finally moving away from his rural small town setting and one of the characters has traveled widely, had many adventures, Met the heads of state for two of the various competing governments, became an assassin and finally became the lover of and killed the leader of the Southern "Foxfire" government.
Other than the above paragraph that is all I am going to say about that part of the novel. Kunstler's portrayal of each government and the culture that spawned it and how they operate really deserves nothing more. He shows his bigotry and single sided views pretty openly and is just silly enough while doing so that it really isn't even insulting. It reads more like someone interjected a looney toons story into the middle of "War and Peace" or something. However will say that this characters adventures up until he became a government assassin were pretty interesting.
So all that being said let's rate the novel.
Readability gets high marks. I rate it an 8 or a 9 out of 10.
Is the story believable? - Well as long as Kunstler stays with what he does best, yes. He skips over any type of cultural clashes in his setting and strongly shows character interaction and how the changing setting raises up some and brings others down quite well. As long as we ignore the parts dealing with the Foxfire republic I would rate this book as high as a 9 on that scale with it falling to about a 2 or 3 in the other parts. I will also say Kunstler's use of a type of pseudo magic is well done as well. It is so subtle (although a little less so in this novel than the first two) you almost can believe it.
Multi-Cult leanings - Since any individual interactions are avoided it is hard to rate this category. Still there are several things eluded to so it gets a bad score maybe a 2 or 3 because of it since most of the hints come from the Foxfire Republic sections of the book.
All that being said the book still has value like the two previous works in the series. It really sets a feel for life after electricity and fossil fuels and I believe it shows the basic human nature of cooperation over the simple every man for himself mentality far too many writers buy into.
Despite Kunstler's political views and the beginnings of Multi-Cult preaching I still recommend "A History of the Future". However I am wondering if we are not seeing a change in the series and a set up for more Multi-Cult preaching coming for the future.