postheadericon 1 Million Tomorrows, Pan, Paperback, ISBN 0-330-235273

A bit short on posts here this month. One Million Tomorrows is one of Shaw’s earlier novels, from the early seventies.

At present I’ve only go a tatty old Pan paperback of this novel, bought second hand years ago. The hardback edition is quite rare. Copies are available online but the prices aren’t tempting enough for me to purchase at this time.

Even on the first page Shaw delivers plenty of images to tell the reader they are in a very different world: pills to stop hangovers, weather control teams, compcards and a telepres that project images.

The world is full of funkies and cools: functional humans who can have sex and procreate and cools who have ‘tied off’ by using an immortality drug, the consequences of which is that men are no longer able to have sex or children. I wonder if the writer of Highlander read this novel? The immortals there couldn’t have children either.

Right in the very first chapter the man character, Willy Carewe, is given what he considers to be an impossible offer; to become immortal and still have children. Unfortunately his wife doesn’t take kindly to the offer, thinking it a ploy of his.

One of the consequences of possibly thousands of years of life Shaw speculates is the emergence of the ‘bitch society’. Shaw suggests that the more macho elements of man’s behaviour would dissipate or be forced from society due to what could be lost to each individual. Wars and aggressive behaviour have mostly faded as mankind and men take the security of thousands of years of life over violence.

His marriage broken Carewe volunteers for work in Africa. There he finds that society is forcing immortality on people. His regret at his actions in helping to make people immortal against their will gets him a knife in the lung from a native as reward. The description of this murder attempt in the hospital I found very vivid and how the account Shaw gives of the collapsed lung of the protagonist and how it sounded during the fight was very real and even a little unsettling.

While he is in hospital there is an overt attempt on his life, to go with the covert ones he suspected. Further attempts on his life and the disappearance of his wife lead Carewe to the guilty parties.

There are plenty of good ideas in this novel but the story line isn’t one of Shaw’s strongest. The main character isn’t the strongest or most memorable of Shaw’s protagonists and I didn’t really warm to him on the first reading all those years ago. I skipped through the book to refresh my memory and my opinion didn’t change.

It’s a fairly good novel, very readable, a reasonable thriller with a few twists and turns – although they appear later in the book rather than being spread throughout it – and is written in Shaw’s easy going and vibrant style.

It’s Shaw’s third or fourth novel, and I guess he was still finding his literary and stylistic feet: at that time he would also have been more comfortable with the short story than the novel. It isn’t one of his best works, the maturity of his later novels allowed him to fill out the books with more interesting incidents which advanced the plot and built on the characters and here, in 1 Million Tomorrows, he is still learning that craft or isn’t fully utilising it.

3 Responses to “1 Million Tomorrows, Pan, Paperback, ISBN 0-330-235273”

  • […] I’ve only two more Gollancz hard back editions of Bob Shaw’s work to get. These are 1 Million Tomorrows and Palace of Eternity. Then I’ll have a full set of Shaw works in Gollancz hardbacks. With […]

  • […] I’ve only two more Gollancz hard back editions of Bob Shaw’s work to get. These are 1 Million Tomorrows and Palace of Eternity. Then I’ll have a full set of Shaw works in Gollancz hardbacks. With […]

  • […] Not had much time to make posts lately as other matters have taken over. However, recently I did the semi regular search for Bob Shaw hardbacks and found that one dealer on Abebooks had lowered their price on one of the more difficult to get Bob Shaw novels, 1 Million Tomorrows. […]

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