October 16, 2004

The Postman

Author: David Brin | First published 1985 | Amazon

The writing is uneven, and the plot twists don't always feel to me like they live up to the basic premise of the book. Unlike A Canticle for Leibowitz or Riddley Walker, it's set in a future only sixteen years after a nuclear war and the ensuing consequences.

Brin makes the point repeatedly that the cause of greatest disaster is failure to stand together, selfishness in the face of a threat. He shows it in his tales of the causes of the war, the ensuing chaos in which hoarding and refusal to cooperate made matters far worse, and in his diabolical Holnists who combine survivalism and weirdly Nietzschean philosophy to produce nightmares for everyone they encounter.

There's also a thread on the importance of women, though this stays buried for a while. It's an undercurrent to the story that follows Gordon and a mostly male crew through the book. Though it surfaces dramatically, it didn't feel that well-attached to me. This theme does reinforce the value of community.

Like the other books I've been reading, reclaiming technology is a key thread here, though Brin seems to share a lot of the same doubts in its value as the other books have. Community matters more than technology, even when that community is based on faith in things that the reader explicitly learns don't exist.

Posted by simonstl at October 16, 2004 11:43 PM