CHILL OF DUSK by Stephen Minot


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Science fiction, like one of its own spongy monsters abhorring a vacuum, has rept of late into the respectable wedges left by Huxley, orwell etc., and this dark tale of the future is heavy on horror and message. This is another projection of a human family after the holocaust as they travel back to the savage beginnings of civilization in a generation. Survivor of the Last War and leader of a settlement of twelve families is a gaunt, humorless patriarch named, of course, Adam, who has supplied his group with an ingenious heating system and compulsory education in order to hold the line against the enroaching wilderness of what was once Maine. The scraping out a living from the soil and the threat of death from marauding bands take grim toll: and when the scout Luke arrives in the colony, to fall in love with Adam's daughter Elizabeth, Adam is soon driven out. The new leader is the catholic priest, Father Leblanc, who treads the path back to faith away from humanism. Father Leblanc's kingdom in turn gives way to a nature cult, and Luke's family, having lost a daughter to a human sacrifice, plods off across the ice to oom or possible survival. A compelling message, but the characters are out of proportion to begin with and the society they represent is not too convincing. Careless execution ulls the effect.

Publisher: Doubleday