Tuesday, 17 November 2015

City of Endless Night - Milo Hastings (1920)

Milo Hastings

Milo Hastings was a man of many talents, most of them involving nutrition, healthcare and the artificial reproduction of chickens. Clearly, it is the mind of such a man as this that would create a novel where the embattled city of Berlin is submerged underground for a hundred and fifty years.

The story is set in the 22nd century, where an Idealistic World State controls most of the planet except for the armourer city of Berlin protected via Science Ray. It's a story that very much turns the concept of a "Lost race" story on it's head, but it doesn't do so in a farcical or humorous way. The society presented in city of endless night is based on that tired old stereotype of German efficiency, expanded into monstrous dimensions via living in a giant metal tube.

It is interesting that Hastings, writing just at the end of World War I not only predicted World War II, but that he also sadly predicted some other things, like scientific breeding, and the desire of certain German authority figures to make the "breeding" of the "lesser races" cease.

Strangely, throughout the novel Hastings portrays the eugenically produced workers classes as being incapable to adapt to any changes in workforce, even with getting slightly less work and yet the ending with it's sudden capitulation of Germany does not really adress the issues. There is the massive coincidence of the main character's resemblance to a dead German scientist he finds in a mine that even allows the plot to get into motion, but there are worse coincidences, and at least people do take note of it. It's also sad how little room is actually given to the Emperor, despite his importance to the story at least on a technical level. Though as a monarchist the bleak, anti Hohenzollern streak the novel has going for it somewhat irritates me, I can see it in the perspective of being serialised just after WW I and I urge others to give it a go regardless of political affiliation.

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