- Series: Dispatch Books
- Paperback: 130 pages
- Publisher: Haymarket Books (December 6, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1608467244
- ISBN-13: 978-1608467242
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 7.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 53 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #325,080 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Splinterlands (Dispatch Books) Paperback – December 6, 2016
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Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
Feffer’s book is a wild ride through a bleak future, casting a harsh, thought-provoking light on that future’s modern-day roots.”
"Just as it’s especially enjoyable to read science fiction written by real scientists, Feffer offers readers a uniquely well-researched and historically robust argument for why the world turns out the way that it does, which makes it all the more relevantand frightening. "
Washington City Paper
"Readers who enjoy dystopian stories that hold more than a light look at political structures and their downfall will more than appreciate the in-depth approach John Feffer takes in his novel."
Midwest Book Review
"Splinterlands is a short and powerful dystopian novel, framed as an all-too-credible account of what might happen in our lifetimes."
Climate and Capitalism
"John Feffer is our 21st-century Jack London, and, like the latter's Iron Heel, Splinterlands is a vivid, suspenseful warning about the ultimate incompatibility between capitalism and human survival."
Feffer’s book, in short, is provocative in the best sense .The dystopic alternative, illustrated so powerfully in Feffer’s Splinterlands, provides us with powerful motivation to shape a better, less splintered, future.”
W. J. Astore
"Splinterlands paints a startling portrait of a post-apocalyptic tomorrow that is fast becoming a reality today. Fast-paced, yet strangely haunting, Feffer's latest novel looks back from 2050 on the disintegration of world order told through the story of one broken family-- and offers a disturbing vision of what might await us all if we don't act quickly."
Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickle and Dimed and Living with a Wild God, and founder of the Economic Hardship Reporting Project
A chilling portrayal of where the politics of division could take us. Now I only hope he writes the sequel to tell us how to avoid it!”
Naomi Oreskes, co-author of The Collapse of Western Civilization
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To the the novels I've come to expect of this genre(Hunger Games, World War Z, etc). Instead, what I read was a book that made me think, not just entertain; a book that truly frightened me because, unlike other books in this genre, we're already beginning to live this future. Splinterlands is both thoughtful and entertaining. I would hope that readers are sufficiently informed by Splinterlands that they are compelled to take action our future depends on it
It is not clear at the outset why, but some twenty-five years later, aged and in ill-health, West is bedridden and decides to contact his three estranged children and wife, all scattered across the globe. He does this with a virtual headset and avatar, Virtual tours plus “face to face” meetings in venues as diverse as Brussels, China, and Africa. West’s children have all taken separate paths, adjusting to the collapse in their own ways, but all have misgivings with their father. So we basically have three separate dialectics which doesn’t make for fully fleshed out drama. The splintering of the family is directly analogous to the splintering of the geopolitical landscape. Like the Syfy series, “Incorporated,” there are green and red zones.
This is less of a problem in the concluding two chapters where human interaction is more compelling. West contacts his estranged wife of 25 years, Rachel, also once a scholar researcher, who turned her back on academia to join a commune in Vermont, quite successfully as it turns out. West is receiving some experimental treatment for a pandemic staph infection. Rachel is ill, too and Julian wants them to be together to share the treatment. The transmission is cut off before she can answer.
In the final chapter we learn why West is receiving the treatment and from whom as well as other ulterior motives for contacting his family. It’s worth a look and makes for a quick read.
"Splinterlands" is about "Splinterlands", a popular political tome of the early 2020s on a par with books by authors like Francis Fukuyama and Thomas Piketty in terms of its popularity and notoriety. And it's also about the Splinterlands, the disintegration of the interconnected post-Cold War liberal consensus world of international organizations and commerce that takes place between roughly 2018 and the middle of the 21st century, when the action of this short novel takes place. It's a first-person narrative by the largely sidelined author of "Splinterlands" after the fall of the current order, both a political account and an account of his own broken life and family.
There are elements of Whitley Strieber and James Kunetka's "Warday" here, in that "Splinterlands" is a tour of a post-catastrophe realm, spending sections on the fates of various cities and nations and how they got there. (Unlike "Warday", the Armageddon here wasn't wrought by bombs but rather by climate change and neo-nationalism in the form of Trump, Farage, Le Pen, and company.) Those seeking a traditional novel may be disappointed, as these aspects of "Splinterlands" are essentially a journalistic-style account of recent history from the perspective of about forty years hence. (In that respect, "Splinterlands" follows in the tradition of "A Short History of the Future" by W. Warren Wagar, another progressive writer.)
One of the most compelling aspects of "Splinterlands" is the set of endnotes, intended to have been appended later by a skeptical scholar. These reminded me of the notes in Nabokov's "Pale Fire" -- they tell an entire story on their own, greatly enriching the whole.
"Splinterlands" is a pessimistic work, but one that rings true. Feffer leaves it to the reader to decide whether it presents a world that is inevitable, or one that can yet be avoided.
A geo-paleontologist might view a catastrophic disintegration of civilization as inevitable. But we read dystopian fiction like Splinterlands precisely because nothing is inevitable, to a people who have a will not to permit it to be. If you are one of those people, I recommend that you have a look at Splinterlands.