CHILDREN OF MEN BOOK REVIEW

O Brave New World, That Has No People In't!

Date: March 28, 1993, Sunday, Late Edition - Final Byline: By Walter Wangerin Jr.; Lead:

THE CHILDREN OF MEN By P.

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D. James. 245 pp. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. $22. Text:

ON New Year's Day, 2021, "the last huguy being to be born on earth was eliminated in a pub brawl." He was 25. It has been 25 years given that an international illness rendered all humale sperm infertile, 25 years, therefore, since any kind of baby has actually been born to bear the future of humanity. The exact same day marks the 50th birthday of Theodore Faron, doctor of ideology. On this day he begins to store a journal as a "little added defense versus personal accidie."

With such swift strokes P. D. James develops the central premise of her brand-new novel, "The Children of Men." Tbelow follow 2 worthy adventures for Miss James, for her protagonist and for the thoughtful reader:

The first concerns last efforts at conserving this race, the civilization, us. The initially adundertaking exemplifies what has constantly made Miss James's detective fiction structured and also strong: story. But Theodore Faron's genuine story -- the sequence of occasions that drives towards a conclusion that should succeed, or else all falls short -- is slow-moving to begin. Not till Chapter Six does Faron accomplish the womale, Julian, who will involve him and us in plots. And also then things unfold gradually. Faron is not conveniently encouraged to crack his self-containment for the sake of others. It's not in his character. (He notes his "terror of taking duty for various other people's resides or happiness.") Nor is it in the times. ("But those who lived offered method to the almost universal negativism, what the French called ennui universel. ") In reality, the novel's Book One, "Omega," acts a lot as a setup for the story that does not dominate until Book Two, "Alpha."

But it doesn't matter. The reader have the right to absolutely wait for activity since the second adundertaking of the book -- perhaps the even more fascinating one -- is the meditation that its premise motivates. In a recent interwatch, Miss James said, "I assumed, if tbelow was no future, exactly how would we behave?" No future, not because it has actually been canceled all of a sudden, as by nuclear battle, yet bereason it has been reduced off at the source: no babies, no following generation. Those alive are thus granted their fullness of years however their deaths are made dreadcompletely significant. When they die, all die. Contemplating that, in Publication One, is the even more terrible adventure. For look what becomes of us when we are the end, the suggest of it all:

Love is laviburned on the inanimate. "Doll-making was the just section of the toy sector which . . .

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flourished; it had actually produced dolls for the totality array of frustrated maternal desire." And once Faron sees one woguy dash the doll of one more against a rock wall, its "mother" screams "the scream of the tortured, the bereaved, the terrified."

The last-born males and women, that last generation whom culture calls "our Omegas," are strikingly handsome and also talented yet, as far as others are came to, cold and also incurious. Faron writes, "If from insophisticated you treat kids as gods they are liable in adulthood to act as devils."

Fatalism, boredom, crime and spiritual hysteria increase. The Isle of Man is turned right into a penal swarm where thieves are dumped to endure or to die murdering one an additional.

The civilization hoard against a time once the state will certainly fail. But, caremuch less of anybody conserve themselves, they permit a dictator to dominance England absolutely, serving his own power rather than their welfare. By his decree the old are herded onto a ship for a seeming mass suicide, a ritual referred to as the Quietus. But these world are in fact not suicides however victims -- drugged and also collection adrift to drvery own. And Theodore Faron, trying to conserve one woman from the Quietus, is beaten sensemuch less by a soldier of the state.

That, for him, is the crucial event. Pity cracks his solitude. He starts to heed Julian, the woguy who believes she holds in herself the potential for a future. Because the dictator of England is Faron's cousin, Julian has actually begged him to factor through the male before she and also her group start subversive task. After the Quietus Faron agrees and also speaks through his cousin. But the dictator stays immovable, and also Faron provides a commitment to others in spite of himself. And so begins the action of the book.

PLOT, under Miss James's hand, is never simply external activity. Almeans she explores character, the complexities of motive and also believed and emotion; and constantly she wonders about the nature of humanity in general -- this baffling admixture of great and evil, confidence and faiattract, love and a murderous self-sufficiency. In her other novels, the author's attention is upon the plot and also these involves show up only instraight. But right here Miss James provides these contemplations the very service of her book, and also her check out is Olympian.

From the premise of this novel, fatality takes on incredible dimension. And as Faron grows to love Julian, love is purged of personal rerotate. In the time of endings, options are lessened to the the majority of basic, for self or for others, and those that pick selflessness choose genuine sacrifice, dying for Julian -- who believes she is pregnant -- and for the sake of the future.

And birth -- for this should be the genuine plot, the real rebellion, the real potency and salvation of humankind -- the birth of a single son becomes a point of ineffable glory.

If tbelow is a baby, tright here is a future, tbelow is redemption. From this, Miss James's book draws -- but not heavily -- a mythic breath.

And she herself signals the resource of its title and possibly of its hope. During a makechange funeral for one who sacrificed his life for Julian and also the future, Faron reads from an old prayer book this psalm: "Lord, thou hast been our refuge: from one generation to another. . . . Thou turcolony male to destruction: aacquire thou sayest, Come aget, ye youngsters of men."

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