Wednesday, April 29, 2009

NATION by Terry Pratchett

A tidal wave races through an alternative world much like the islands of the South Pacific. Entire islands are washed away. Tall Sailing Ships sank. Natives in their canoes vanish. One small island remained, all its former inhabitants save one washed away. That one was a boy returning from boys island expecting to be officially become a man. The first survivor to be washed ashore was a girl on the remains of a tall sailing ship. A white girl wearing trousers and using a language most strange and wielding something the boy later found out was a gun, was very weird and scary to Mau. And Mau was very scary to the girl. Somehow they manage to communicate with each other and get on with surviving as they must. Over the days a rag tag bunch of survivors in many small numbers in many ways begin to arrive. Their need for help and later to help others gradually help this group of peoples of many languages, cultures, indeed colors become a working community. I kept thinking how different these marooned people were from those in the book Lord of the Flies. Always they worked together for the common good (survival) always they took pleasure in helping each other and learning amazing new skills. Just think of a ghost girl (white) not yet an adult learning to make beer to honor the island's gods. And they found an amazing thing as they were trying to rebuild their lives. In the back of a cave was what appeared to be an ancient planetarium or perhaps stellar observatory. This find coupled with knowing just who would be interested preserves this new community from exploration, settlement, takeover by some powerful country. To me, the story got bogged down in mysticism sometimes. Mau who is never formerly declared a man is respected enough to be called the leader though quite young and has many trance like discussions with the island gods. On the whole this is an uplifting and sometimes funny story.

No comments: