Thursday, 20 July 2017

Two Classic Speculative Novels about Islands

I've recently read two classic novels about alternative realities centred on life on islands.

The first was Glapagos by Kurt Vonnegut, which imagines a group of people becoming shipwrecked on one of Galapagos Islands who then become the ancestors for all the human beings left on the earth a million years from now. The blurb on the back cover of the book implied that it was set a million years in the future, so part of me was disappointed that, though narrated from a point a million years in the future, it's actually set in the present day (or rather the 1980s when it was written). That aside though it is a fascinating insight into the vagaries of evolution and the way our actions can influence the future. I do want to know more though about how life would be for the furry and flippered humans of the far future......

The second was Island by Aldous Huxley.  Will Farnaby, a cynical journalist is shipwrecked on the fictional island of Pala. He had been in league with the people who had wanted to drill for oil on the island but is won over by it's utopian lifestyle and intriguing mix of Buddhist and pantheistic spirituality. Although the premise is fascinating, I found the book tedious, as it reads almost entirely as two dimensional characters talking about philosophy at each other and utopias are, by definition, much less interesting than dystopias, in fictional terms at least. It is however worth reading to the end as the ending is excellent.

3 comments:

sage said...

There was a time (in my 20s) when I was reading a lot of Huxley and I tried to get into Island a couple of times and never could finish it... Although I've read a lot of Vonnegut, I haven't read Galapagos

Rabbits' Guy said...

I think I will take a pass on those. I more prefer island stories that really happened - or sort of happened!

Caroline Gill said...

I love your reviews, Juliet, and books on islands are a particular interest. Thank you.