- Paperback: 255 pages
- Publisher: Tor Books; Revised edition (December 1981)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0523485182
- ISBN-13: 978-0523485188
- Package Dimensions: 6.6 x 4.1 x 0.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,082,304 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Not This August Paperback – December, 1981
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Top Customer Reviews
The first thing I read by him was The Marching Morons, and I was hooked.
Not This August is not sci-fi, but a vision of what it might be like if the USA was defeated in war, and split up by Russia and China.
The kind of daily life, nuts and bolts kind of realism Kornbluth uses makes these stories very realistic, and riveting.
Billy Justin was a Korean War vet and freelance author, but when the Farm-or-Fight law hit, he chose to run a small dairy farm over the draft. He struggled to meet his quota under the American government, and does the same under Soviet occupation. When he takes on a crazed boarder—a former Pentagon official suffering from nervous breakdown—Billy learns of lost state secrets, that the real Yankee Doodle weaponized satellite was not destroyed by Chinese special forces and in fact sits in near-completion just a few dozen miles from his house...
Cyril M. Kornbluth is often overlooked or forgotten today, but he wrote some impressive SF social satires in the 1950s before his untimely death at the age of 34. Most of his works were short-stories, and you can see a little strain on this one---his acerbic wit and biting commentary can feel hyperbolic at times, and the novel is formed out of Cold War paranoia and fear. But if you're not bothered by Kornbluth's bleak tone or the fact that the novel is very much a product of its time, it's a fine work of 1950s social satire SF. It offers a disturbing look not just at the American will to be free, but also at the military-industrial complex and the insanity of endless war, the race to mutually-assured destruction. Not This August can be read as a Red Dawn-type adventure, but at its core it's a scathing look at the Cold War itself.
The set up is this: after a long and bitter war, the Russians and Chinese have conquered and occupied the United States. Life is different under this new rule and the fascination of the novel is in watching how the various characters adjust to their situation. Some people toady right up to their new masters and others form an underground resistance movement.
I was expecting a wave of patriotic chest-beating-- something akin to RED DAWN or THE AZRIEL UPRISING--and there are a few "better dead than red" concessions to anti-commie hysteria-- but C.M. Kornbluth has obviously studied his history and he makes the entire scenario play out with a chilling neo-realism that is incredibly effective. I found myself completely engrossed the minute I started reading this book and I couldn't put it down until i had finished it.( I will admit to a certain disappointment with the climactic scene--but like I said, for a book written over half a century ago...)
Although NOT THIS AUGUST could be called a failed prediction or dismissed as an example of mid-fifties anti-communist paranoia, it really stands as an excellent adventure story that reads as fresh as if it had been written yesterday instead of over fifty years ago.
Needless to say, this story is badly dated since America survived, the Soviet Union did not, and China transformed. No matter. This novel was a terrific read back in the bad old days of the Cold War (when I read it) and it is a fine read even today. What would it be like if America were utterly defeated militarily by bitter enemies? This novel provides some speculative answers. C.M. Kornbluth is a good storyteller, and this novel captures and keeps the reader's interest from the first powerful sentence to its rather improbable ending. No matter that some of the politics are dated. This is an excellent story.
Highly recommended. RJB.
The US (and Canada) have fallen before a combined Sino-Soviet offensive, with virtually no nuclear weapons used, and now, in upstate NY, life tries to go back to normal, except what does that mean?
Kornbluth provides a good story, if somewhat dated, including the American Resistance, life in a small American town under Soviet occupation, and the bloody results of internal Soviet rivalry. It's interesting to read about how controlling the occupation authorities are on the one hand, and how they could be circumvented on the other.