Wednesday, February 27, 2008

8. The World in Winter by John Christopher

The World in Winter picture

I went through a lot of mild ups and downs with this book. I think that I approached it believing I had Christopher pegged and I think that was a mistake. The premise of this post-apocalyptic book is that the world gets colder and colder until the previously powerful northern countries crumble and the equatorial nations become the new powerhouses. But I'm already getting ahead of myself, because the first section of the book is much more personal and limited in scope. It's about a tv producer and his relationship with another couple (of which the husband has an affair with the protagonist's wife). It's here that I felt like we were going to be spending a lot of time in that weird 60s british guy sexual anxiety zone.

Fortunately, the book veers off and ends up going in a lot of interesting directions. It proceeds to show the life of expat europeans in Africa who have suddenly become second-class citizens (that's putting it mildly; they are actually desperate refugees, forced to begging, prostitution and servitude). This is really fascinating and I would love to see a longer and more in-depth treatment of this kind of reversal of class and power in the world.

The third section than becomes an adventure, where a team of Nigerians try to go back to frozen London and claim it for themselves. They take hovercrafts and follow a similar route across the English Channel that the hero of a Wrinkle in the Skin took on foot when it was waterless.

Because of the three-part structure, a World in Winter is less focused than a Wrinkle in the Skin and you get less detail of the kind us PA fanatics look for. But it also keeps the book moving along and the reader intrigued. I was very satisfied in the end.

Here's MtBenson's take (with a good storyline summary).

Here's a link with some other cool editions of the paperback.


Jarrett said...

Do the Nigerians or Christopher acknowledge that it's the same route (in the text)? Or are the two stories completely independent?

I like when authors keep to their universe. I'm reading a Conrad novella/long short story and it has overlapping characters from his novel Victory.

Olman Feelyus said...

completely independent.