Monday, June 23, 2014

"Black Moon" by Kenneth Calhoun

Gotta love a disaster dystopian, and even if Black Moon doesn't cover especially new ground, it's still an engaging "what if" look into human nature and the structure of society.

In Calhoun's dystopia, humanity has suddenly become unable to sleep. People still live, but without the rest and restoration that sleep provides, they devolve into violent and incoherent beings consumed by hallucinations. Yet, not unexpectedly, there are a few individuals who, for reasons never explored, still possess the capacity to sleep. Their lives are in equal danger, as the sight of any sleeper quickly turns a non-sleeper murderous.

Through this world the reader follows several individuals: Biggs, a sleeper who's looking to finding his afflicted wife; Chase, a young man desperate to get back his girlfriend; Felicia, a researcher at a sleep institute and Chase's ex-girlfriend; and Lila, a high school student still able to sleep. Though the destruction of the world looms over each of them, Calhoun's novel highlights the ways in which people are unable to let go of personal issues even in the most dire of circumstances. For example, Chase is still obsessed over fixing his sexual impotence, and Biggs is still focused on his struggling marriage

The stories move quickly, and because the reader follows a range of viewpoints, he or she is given a decently broad perspective about what is happening. More time is spent on fallout than the science of the insomnia, which I appreciated--I prefer to just accept that this is the way the world works and then explore the consequences.

I think the ending strikes the right balance between utter despair and false hope, even if it's not as uplifting as we might want.

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