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Julian Comstock
A Story of 22nd Century America

by Robert Charles Wilson


Books of the future and the society that will ensue are a continuing fascination with fiction readers and are the heart and soul of the science fiction community. Most books treat us with a tale of increased technology and ability, and the effect it has on the human community. But the more rare tale is where people go backwards in time and lose technology of the type we have today. It is this scenario we are given in the book Julian Comstock: A Story of 22nd Century America.

Julian Comstock is a relative his uncle, Deklan Comstock, President of the United States, wishes to be rid of. He has already killed Julianís father, Bryce Comstock, his own brother, as a traitor, but Julian is his loose end.

Deklan is president of a US with sixty states and a history of past horrors. Mankind almost destroyed itself when the oil ran out and the plagues and starvation began. What is left is a diminished population thrown back to a way of life similar to the late 1800s. Government exists in the form of a dictatorship in the executive branch and the Dominion, a religious organization that shares the power of government with the president and senate.

Julian is hidden away in the country and becomes friends with the bookís narrator, Adam Hazzard. Through a series of adventures, both Adam and Julian distinguish themselves in battle and Julian is made the Major General of one of Delkanís armies. It is then things turn upside down, leading to Julianís rise to complete power. And as they say, power corrupts.

This is a remarkable book that will take its place beside such greats as 1984 and Brave New World. Itís all here: censorship, brutal repression of people and ideals, and the power of the institution over the average man. This book grabs attention and forces us all to think about what it is to be born free.

Also, it is a personal story, one that highlights a brilliant boyís fall into madness. Julian has the intelligence to achieve greatness, only to be thwarted by the repression of the government and his uncle. However, when given power himself, he begins his own descent into madness. While he, at first, has only noble intentions, the ability to do whatever he wants is too much temptation.

This book is very gripping in that it strikes at the very core of humanity and the balance of freedom and power. Today we toe the line and struggle to keep the balance, but literature is there to teach us what should happen if we fall.

The Book

Tor Books
June 23, 2009
Teen / Adult / Science Fiction
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The Reviewer

Emily Decobert
Reviewed 2009
NOTE: Reviewer Emily Decobert is the author of Continuing on Alone.
© 2009