Group Read - Alas Babylon

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Group Read - Alas Babylon

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1Bcteagirl
Jun 7, 2011, 12:47 pm

I will hopefully be starting on this book for the weekend! I thought I should post the thread as a reminder. If you are thinking of reading the book as well please leave a message here!

I am really looking forward to reading this book, it should be a fun dystopian read.

Alas Babylon by Pat Frank

2MarthaJeanne
Editado: Jun 9, 2011, 5:01 am

I'll be starting this in the next day or two as well.

I've added an 'about' to this thread.

3katelisim
Jun 9, 2011, 9:28 am

Just placed the ILL request, so I should get it in the next few days. Then I join in :)

4MarthaJeanne
Jun 11, 2011, 4:25 pm

I really like the fact that the title gets explained right away.

5Bcteagirl
Jun 12, 2011, 11:08 am

I also enjoyed that. I am just a few chapters in at the moment. I like the fact that he takes the time to make his characters seem 'real' (Although the 'spinster women' are irking, but you have to consider the time they were written in). I have to admit I did gloss over some of the military strategy stuff. I need to find/print a map of the time so those small sections make more sense to me :P

6Bcteagirl
Jun 12, 2011, 11:09 am

ps- Am I the only one who found the comment about the milk at the end of the first chapter hilarious? :P

7Yells
Editado: Jun 12, 2011, 12:40 pm

Alas, Babylon was neat primarily because I read it while travelling through Florida so I could relate better to the location. Overall, it was good but not great. I didn't relate much to the characters (didn't like any of them much) but I did like the detail about how people survived afterward 'the event'. It reminded me of the show Jericho (great show that really didn't get a fair shot as far as I am concerned).

8MarthaJeanne
Editado: Jun 12, 2011, 3:18 pm

6> Oh these young people. I remember growing up in that era, and the milk bottles on the porch in the morning. Increasing the milk order would be the first thing anyone would have done then with two children coming to live. (Not that any of my boys ever drank a liter of milk a day.)

9MarthaJeanne
Jun 12, 2011, 3:21 pm

What boggles my mind is that noone is planting new vegetable gardens. I decided a long time ago that vegetable and herb seeds were the first things to grab if civilisation looked like it might be failing.

And I would also grab as much grain and flour as possible, and dry yeast, too.

10Bcteagirl
Jun 12, 2011, 10:08 pm

I was out all day in my garden (First one since elementary school! Doing a little guerrilla gardening taking over the overgrown one at my apt building) and I agree.

For the milk bottles, I do remember having milk delivered (albiet not in glass). What tickled me was the 'this would be his the least useful' part that made me laught. Nukes are coming, time to order more milk!!

Marthadjeanne: You make a good point that is along the lines of one I wanted to bring up for discussion. If you had the cheque for $5,000 in a similar situation, what would you spend it on? (assuming no time for mail order sources).

11MarthaJeanne
Editado: Jun 13, 2011, 4:34 am

Seeds, plants, gardening equipment, and herbals.

Also rabbits, guinea pigs and chickens, along with houseing for many more than I buy.

We are talking food and medicine here.

12MarthaJeanne
Jun 13, 2011, 4:55 am

I just finished the book.

Full disclosure: I was five in Vermont at the time this book was published.

This culture resonates with me. 50+ years on, I am no more in the culture I expected to grow up into than the people in the book.

In terms of the book, I haven't read most of the books in this vein mentioned in the back of my copy, with the big exception of On the Beach, which is very different. I have read several others that talk about surviving a nuclear or other catastrophe. I'm thinking particularly about Farnham's Freehold. (I am not recommending that to read. Most of it is in exceptionally poor taste.) The hero has planned for a catastrophe, and farming supplies and technical books are his 'wealth'.

The two things Randy has that he does not use are land for growing things (only the blacks actually get their hands dirty in the soil, and they just do what they would have done anyway) and BOOKS. The library is 'really useful' - for entertainment, and for learning hypnotism. And he finishes thinking that technology has entered 'a 1000 year night'. Garbage. The things that were lost were all 20th century technology, and the knowledge is still available. Actually my husband and I would be in much better shape than him because we have a stack of books (not catalogued here yet) from the early 70s on survival, 'The forgotten Arts'... not to mention my herbals and preserving cookbooks.

I'm going to hand the book to my son now, to see what he makes of it. He's in college, and grew up in turn of the millenium Europe. Not the same culture at all.

13Bcteagirl
Jun 19, 2011, 3:08 pm

I am now a little more than halfway through the book, at the point where they are somewhat forming a community.

I found one section interesting in light of the radiation from Japan. At one point recently in France they were warning people not to eat leafy vegetables (fallout) and milk. Alas Babylon mentions that the reason for the milk ban is that radioactivity tends to concentrate in calcium. I had not understood that and it is interesting/good to know.

I agree that so far they seem to be making little use of the knowledge that should be available to them in books. Or gardening.

11: I agree I would be buying similar things, along with sugar/salt/lemon juice (needed to preserver), non-electric pressure canner etc. Clothing as well.

14MarthaJeanne
Jun 19, 2011, 3:31 pm

I've been reading Heinlein's Expanded Universe, and it is interesting to compare with his take on it. In general very similar, although in these stories his characters don't have to fight American looters - just invaders. I find his nonfiction opinion pieces from the 40s and 50s insisting that nuclear war is about to happen particularly interesting.

15Bcteagirl
Jun 19, 2011, 3:49 pm

Those all sound quite interesting, thank you! :)

16Bcteagirl
Jun 21, 2011, 9:43 pm

Still reading my way through this, I seem to have a lot of books on the go at once :P

I did enjoy the section about the librarian and how it was a positive change for her. In case of lack of electricity people do turn back to books! :)

17MarthaJeanne
Jun 22, 2011, 2:07 am

Wouldn't know about that. In this house people read a lot.

18Bcteagirl
Jun 26, 2011, 12:09 pm

I finished this book recently. Overall I liked it. It is sort of a 'light' introduction to dystopian literature that can often be very dark. I like how people were largely able to cooperate rather than turning on each other.

Was anybody else frustrated at how topics were simply 'dropped'?

For example the talk of disease when he went to visit the children. Aside from the be careful of water order, I don't recall hearing any more about it, or about how he managed without glasses.

The ending was sudden and a bit of a tease :P

Overall I enjoyed the book. :)