Tuesday, 14 February 2012

J.W. Schnarr 5-Star review to North by 2000+

As posted on Goodreads, by J.W. Schnarr

If you are like every other Canadian spec fic writer out there and has ever read a science fiction story about places like New York, London, or Hong Kong, and ever wondered what it might be like, just once, to read a story set in a place you actually felt an affinity with...North by 2000+ by H.A. Hargreaves is the book you need to read.

In this reprint "+" of Hargreaves work spanning decades, you can see what an apocalyptic Alberta might look like. You can see how the justice system evolves according to our own sense of self. And in a nightmare scenario, you see every Canadian's real nightmare--The formation of the Americanada super country. That's right kids, they finally won.

There is something else in this book of great value to science fiction fans--the book is loaded with all the stuff that makes classic SF such a pleasure to read. It's full of robots and computers and wonderfully Canadian dystopias (imagine Saskatchewan! And Saskatchewan in winter!)

Imagine the great punchcard computer making a mistake that causes the robotic world to believe you are dead...how would you handle all the freedom? Check out "Dead to the World" for one possible answer.

Imagine coming out of prison rehabilitated and restarting your life only to find your sentence has just begun. The story "Cainn" was heartbreaking, and Hargreaves wrote it masterfully.
Fore...Eight...Sixteen... tells the story of some golf buddies who come up with a way to revolutionize the game for future players. Golf and Science Fiction, you ask? Hey, it's Edmonton, pal. Anything can happen.

My favourite story in the collection was quite possibly 2020 Vision, about an apocalyptic wasteland in central Alberta. The story had a definite Mad Max quality to it, and the main character was just as doomed: after years of surviving the wastelands of Alberta and riding the #2 Highway he one day comes face to face with the realization he's no better than the crazies he's been fighting all these years. How much more Canadian can you get?

This book is more than just classic science fiction with familiar names and places. The stories feel Canadian, and Hargreaves is a hell of a writer to so beautifully package what that means.

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