- Paperback: 413 pages
- Publisher: Acee Books, Inc.; 1st printing stated edition (1951)
- Language: English
- ASIN: B002SFV25C
- Product Dimensions: 7 x 4.1 x 1 inches
- Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Limbo Paperback – 1951
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This is a wonderful 50's era cautionary tale, Swiftian in many ways, all dressed up as science fiction. Wolfe writes quite well and with a depth not encountered in much of SF. It makes for a great read not to mention a great recommendation to friends because it is so little known. Though the book seems quaintly dated at some points, the various themes all regard fundamental questions of the human condition that are timeless and universal.
It is essentially a commentary on Cold War era America through the device of future projection. In the spirit of great satire, Wolfe extrapolates an extreme and ludicrous version of the present moment and places it far into the future. The statement is simple: This is what we're going to be like if we keep going this way. It's all there - WWIII, nuclear devastation, rebuilding what's left with the few that are left, but here's the kicker: since we obviously will never learn to control ourselves and to prevent future destruction, everyone will lay down their arms and legs, literally, via amputation, and replace them with nuclear powered, auto-controlled limbs. Absolutely absurd and that's precisely the point.
I don't want to give away any more specifics. I'm sure you can find more elsewhere if you need to. As far as SF goes, I'm a pretty harsh critic. To this day Limbo remains one of my favorites, and IMO, may be the best American contribution to the distopian novel genre. It's a great ride that'll have you aching for your own brand new set of nuclear powered limbs by the end.
A brief synopsis of the novel(w/out spoilers)taken from [...]:
Martine returns from self-imposed exile after the end of a World War to find that his cynical and satirical musings about society in his diary have been used as a blueprint for the rebuilt society.
Disarmament has been taken literally with men volunteering to have one or more limbs amputated.
This movement has split into two factions: one which remains helpless - paraded in baby carridges by their wives or mothers; another that replaces me missing limbs with more powerful artificial limbs.
Martime finds himself the hero and founder of a society he finds despicable, and one which is restarting the Cold war that led up to the last one, with each side trying to use him for its own ends."Immob"(imobilised/imobilization),"Volamp"(voluntary amputation/voluntary amputee),"Dodge the Steamroller"---some of the language/concepts from Wolfe`s stimulating and satirical book.Read more ›