Make Room! Make Room! by Harry Harrison
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Oddly enough, I kinda expected something hokey before I read this, but instead, I just got a dystopian nightmare of overpopulation.
This isn't unexpected or a bad thing. After all, I've seen Soylent Green and felt the huge impact of the scene where the old man Saul mouths the BIG SECRET through the plane of glass. I remember the riots, the pressure, the senseless violence, and the massive levels of injustice AND stupidity that brought us to this state.
And yet, after reading this novel, that sense is more visceral, more realistic, and a lot less sensational. Yes, there's massive injustice. Just look at the Squatter law that gives priority to squalid massive families regardless of any consideration, or the way no detective is able to do his job because life is already worthless.
For '66, this nightmare world that has used up all resources by 1999 and has ignored or actively fought all birth control or warnings, has resorted to sticking its head in the sand.
Well, fortunately, our modern world is getting well-adjusted to living with less... and less... and some technologies are letting us live with a bit less squalor than predicted in this novel... and a New York City of 35 million in the novel is pretty damn close to what some cities are reaching now, true, but the quality of life is NOT as bad as predicted in Harrison's novel.
Of course, in some ways, the violence, the poverty, and the cultural clamp-downs are WORSE in our world. It's odd to see our 7.7 billion people displayed against the novel's measly 7.0 billion. And yet... it's interesting because most of the world is a dustbowl and the only place to safely live .. on the dole .. is the big cities, so everyone migrates there.
I'm just saying this is a really fascinating world-building exercise. I love books that predict or fail to predict in really big ways. :)
Does anyone want any meat flakes? It's just snails... right? Yum, yum.
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