This novel first came to my attention on the MPorcius Fiction Log and, recently, it was the subject of a discussion by Kevin Michael Grace on the Luke Ford YouTube channel.
Could two such sources be wrong in telling me it was worth a look? No.
So, before I dropped in on the Luke Ford discussion, I thought I’d read it.
I’ve been going back and forth about not reviewing everything I read, but there were some things I wanted to say on this one.
But I’d have to do at least a plot synopsis and explicate some of the major themes.
And then I realized I could just leech off MPorcius work.
Thus was born a new category of post: the parasite review.
Which means, in this case, you need to read MPorcuis’ post first.
Parasite Review: The Wanting Seed, Anthony Burgess, 1962.
In 1959, Anthony Burgess was wrongly diagnosed with brain cancer and given a year to live. Not wishing to leave an impoverished widow, he wrote five novels in the next year. One of them was this novel.
That may explain some of its faults and, for me, a somewhat inconclusive ending. Burgess himself said, “it needed to be longer in the oven … but I needed money”.
Like MPorcius, I think this a satire and not a serious effort at extrapolative prediction.
According to the Science Fiction Encyclopedia, it stands near the beginning of science fiction novels about overpopulation. My favorite overpopulation novel is Harry Harrison’s extrapolatively dishonest Make Room! Make Room!. Oddly, Burgess accused Harrison of lifting the cannibalism theme of The Wanting Seed for the film adaptation of Soylent Green. In fact, according to Harry Harrison’s essay “A Cannibalized Novel becomes Soylent Green” in Omni’s Screen Flights, Screen Fantasies, says cannibalism was put in the script by the film’s producers and his contract forbid him having any input with it.
So what is Burgess satirizing? Continue reading “The Wanting Seed”