Book Report: Jem by Frederik Pohl (1979)

This is not a book about the action figure. Unfortunately.

It’s a 1979 dark novel about power politics and national and bloc-level conflict. However, in this future, although people are still flying Trans World Airlines, the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact are part of a larger bloc called the Food Bloc which squares off against oil-producing countries (including Great Britain) and the populous countries (such as China and Pakistan). When astronomers discover a habitable planet with three sentient species on it, the three blocs send expeditions and the international tensions continue to rise until a shooting war breaks out on Earth and on the planet Jem.

The book spends about eighty percent of the book introducing a number of characters of the different blocs and the different species, then about fifteen percent of the book killing those characters pretty offhandedly, and then ends with a small epilogue from some six generations later when the survivors on Jem have evolved into a new civilization that incorporates the species from the planet and a whole lot of proto-Gaiaist loving of Mother Jem.

A pretty grim book, and unsatisfying. I think I’ll have to cleanse my science-fiction reading palate with some rocket-jockeying Heinlein.

Books mentioned in this review:

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