The Year of the Quiet Sun

Well, in America it’s the final hours of Thanksgiving.

So, how does this blog honor the occasion?

By interrupting the Lovecraft series with a cranky riposte to a recent mention of The Year of the Quiet Sun.

Raw Feed (1990): The Year of the Quiet Sun, Wilson Tucker, 1970.Year of the Quiet Sun

This is one of those minor sf classics that has not aged well. (It did win the John W. Campbell Memorial Award.).

I’m sure that, in 1970, a future of race war and conflict with China leading to apocalypse seemed imminently plausible. It seems very … quaint now, a charmingly naïve nightmare of childhood [or a not-so-charming political callowness].

To be sure, the novel does have some points of interest: the tone is lonely and bleak and the time travel mechanism is rather novel. Tucker’s contention that the Book of Revelations is an example of Hebrew “biblical fiction” using biblical concepts and characters is intriguing. The last encounter between Brian Chaney and Kathryn van Hise was poignant though their romance and the triangle of them and Arthur Saltus is rather dopey and hackneyed.

The book is almost worth reading for an oblique reference to Ronald Reagan. He is described as that “actor” who lost in a landslide presidential election in 1980 — the year Reagan won in a landslide.

However, this book commits a monumental literary sin, a colossal cheap shot ending.

We find out that our protagonist, Brian Chaney, is black just like the “Ramjets” who, in collusion with China, brought America down. Now the white folk who survived are terrified of him.

To withhold, purely for literary shock, an obvious fact which is not concealed for any logical reason and would have been evident if this story were, for instance, a movie, is a massive, unconvincing contrivance.

I think I know why he did it.

Given a tale of racial war, Tucker probably wants us to question are values of race. Here is a character treated well all throughout the book by the other characters. He is intelligent, smart, not sexually perverted.

At the end, others of the future see him as a monster.

It still doesn’t work though.

 

More reviews of fantastic fiction are indexed by title and author/editor.

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