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4.5 stars Another classic science fiction story by Pohl Great world building of a future Earth split into three factions and all vying for control of a new planet aka JEM Nominee Hugo Award for Best Science Fiction Novel 1980 Nominee Nebula Award for Best Science Fiction Novel 1980 Nominee Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel 1980 Pohl is considered one of the big hitters of 20th Century science fiction He was tireless and prolific, writing and editing great droves of stories and books and founding important SF publications, sometimes cranking out a couple of novels and then creating a new venue for the genre before breakfast So I certainly respect him and his contributions to SF, even if I didn t enjoy my first foray into his work, which I did not.I m pretty sure I got it I don t think the deep and important themes Pohl is considered one of the big hitters of 20th Century science fiction He was tireless and prolific, writing and editing great droves of stories and books and founding important SF publications, sometimes cranking out a couple of novels and then creating a new venue for the genre before breakfast So I certainly respect him and his contributions to SF, even if I didn t enjoy my first foray into his work, which I did not.I m pretty sure I got it I don t think the deep and important themes discussed went sailing over my head like so many wind borne balloonists Yes, people sure do suck Colonialism sucks Greedy acquisitiveness sucks The human potential for both narrow minded self destruction and rationalization of its own short sighted self interest sucks We can t stop fighting amongst ourselves even if our very survival as a species depends upon it, and thinking we can leave behind these negative attributes and start over with a fresh clean slate is a delusional pipe dream No argument from me, Mr Pohl, and I appreciate the effort to dramatize it I just found it very difficult to care.I simply did not give a rat s ass, or even a Krinpit s carapace, about any of the characters, with the possible exception of Charlie, who was a large bag of gas When a sentient balloon isinteresting and evokessympathy than any of the people in the story, I think that s a problem.And my nit picking inner scientist a real asshole who s ruined many otherwise perfectly enjoyable Star Trek episodes could not help but view with great incredulity the prospect of three very different sentient life forms all evolving on the same planet, and all arriving simultaneously at approximately the same level of societal sophistication, by some miraculous coincidence They could even communicate with one another using language, whereas the vast majority of human beings on our own planet could not communicate with the vast majority of other people, let alone, say, an orangutan Or, for that matter, say, a cockroach Still, I could have suspended my disbelief in standard notions of ecology and evolution if only I caredBut I didn t, except for Charlie I still hold out some tiny shreds of hope that someday, we might prove Pohl wrong and successfully leave behind some of the worst aspects of our human nature, either here at home or, in the far future, somewhere else in the universe, and create some sort of utopian society I don t think it s at all likely, but I can hope And I hope there will be balloons I actually finished the book yesterday But this book made me think very hard and I am still unsure of how I feel about it It definitely is a 4 5 star book Yet, because of the strength of the book it also losses a star It was too true for me And hence the issue before me Just because I found the truth of human ity too hard for me to comfortably read,does that mean it should be given a star less Or should i go by the point that the book is so well written, too well written I think Again I actually finished the book yesterday But this book made me think very hard and I am still unsure of how I feel about it It definitely is a 4 5 star book Yet, because of the strength of the book it also losses a star It was too true for me And hence the issue before me Just because I found the truth of human ity too hard for me to comfortably read,does that mean it should be given a star less Or should i go by the point that the book is so well written, too well written I think Again Pohl blows my mind this book should be read by high school kids the only problem I see with that is the fact you will be bursting alot of balloons of those that think the world is a muchhumane place and that humans wouldn t go to the depths of disparity The same issues I found with this tale.So do I score it by my own feelings or by the fact that it is an excellently written and poignant story well worth reading if you can handle the truth After having a couple days to really think, well actually couldn t think of any other book than this So here goes my rewrite The book could be described as interesting.Yet, unfortunately it was depressing Well written, yet heartbreaking.What left me unsure throughout the last 3rd of the book and still does now is the probability of most of the evil or non positive non sentimental motives It was the worst of actions that were most likely to occur And therefore the worst of outcomes.Now, I appreciate country musics place in the world, but I don t enjoy it I do have a high regard for those who sing or write it The same goes for this book I love Frederik Pohl But this book is a exception for me.the only really positive thing I can add about the book is that it ripe for a book group discussion Storyline 3 5Characters 2 5Writing Style 3 5World 4 5This does not read like a work from one of the most awarded and recognized science fiction authors of the 20th century, not like a story from a Grandmaster and Hall of Fame Inductee It does not read like a book that was recognized by the Hugo, Nebula, National Book Award, and Locus There is no effort at beautiful prose Pohl s writing is purely functional There is no new, striking idea this setup had been done before The book does not Storyline 3 5Characters 2 5Writing Style 3 5World 4 5This does not read like a work from one of the most awarded and recognized science fiction authors of the 20th century, not like a story from a Grandmaster and Hall of Fame Inductee It does not read like a book that was recognized by the Hugo, Nebula, National Book Award, and Locus There is no effort at beautiful prose Pohl s writing is purely functional There is no new, striking idea this setup had been done before The book does not even offer a thoughtfully or carefully constructed plot it gets where it is going with little foreshadowing, intersections, or buildup It does, however, read like a provocative piece of science fiction that would have captured a wide array of interests at the time of its writing.This was a much better as a book of high political intrigue than it was a work of science fiction Not that the science fiction is merely embellishment Pohl uses the science fiction possibilities to accentuate the political trends in which he is interested There is a question at the heart of the book will politics as normal continue as humanity extends itself to space And the politics as normal is the best part of the book, Pohl writing in the Cold War but offering intriguing speculation on where it would go Pohl s vision of the future was where the bipolar ideological cold war gave way to a multipolar cartel stalemate This was an especially interesting idea and future, following from the implications of mutually assured destruction Alliance members were very different from they looked like in the Cold War or today, once enemies now thrown together and longtime allies split It is a future, while very different from what actually happened, which seems like it could have happened or could still happen And that question of what politics we will take with us to the stars is one very much worth asking and exploring.One of theunsettling characteristics of the book is that for most of the telling one is not sure when Pohl is describing and when he is embracing It is a very politically incorrect book The slurs have changed, the specific minorities or nations who are discriminated against are different, and women seem to havestanding and options Still, Pohl has his characters speak denigratingly of one another, disparage each other s origins, and playfully sexually harass women, simply within the context of his future culture Ultimately, I could not tell when Pohl was lamenting these as failings of civilization and meriting condemnation or defending them as essential parts of human nature undeserving of censure For most of the book, the science fiction and political messages also had this ambiguity Some truly terrible decisions are made and tragic events occur There is a lot of ambiguity about what should be done and who is responsible Moral ambiguity can be a particularly interesting technique in a story, but only when there are real dilemmas Too often, Pohl s characters behave unjustifiably and without showing awareness of what seem like obvious dilemmas Either Pohl was ignorant and oblivious with his science fiction speculation, or he chose a bizarre way to introduce uncertainty into the story As a consequence, it becomes easy to both dislike and distrust Pohl The author s most intentional and definite point is political, but there is also a lack of clarity around it This time the lack of clarity is caused by poor writing The last chapter is really an epilogue, and the place where Pohl gives his answers There was still suspense at this late juncture because it had been so unclear throughout just what Pohl was endorsing or trying to say Pohl is going to try to remedy that in the epilogue, but it is sloppily written, open to too many interpretations or simply confusing This was not the deliberate ambiguity that one might have credited Pohl with on the earlier themes in the book this was him trying to make is big, final point but bungling it And in those places where it was clear what was going on and what he was saying, it was simply unbelievable I could hardly believe that this was what the story came to, that this is the message that we were supposed to take from this If this is what Pohl believed and the lesson that was supposed to be drawn, then readers had good reason to both dislike and distrust Pohl throughout the book It was all theunfortunate because the story had so much weighing on that final chapter That epilogue could have taken all the doubts and shown the reader that our author really was aware It could have taken all the remaining questions and given them interesting, consistent answers It could have finally given us a message that pulled the various tidbits scattered across the novel together, showing that something thoughtful and impressive had truly been planned all along So, there is suspense going into that last chapter From there it could have turned into an amazing book or a mediocre one I am unsure what the voters of the various awards for which this book was nominated were meriting when they voted for this one I have difficulty imagining people cheering for it because of how it came together at the end I can most charitably imagine people applauding the book for its cynicism, for its unwillingness to look at civilization approvingly, for its refusal to show us better than we truly are This novel deserves 3.5 It was very slow to start and was packed full of racial stereotypes, but the last third was very good and there were some very strong women present throughout I didn t like how 90% of the men in the novel were sex obsessed assholes who badgered women to have sex with them despite the women saying no I mean, maybe it was a just a couple guys, or just Ana s perception of men, but it seemed like everyone but Dalehouse was a pig, which isn t very fair to men The book was This novel deserves 3.5 It was very slow to start and was packed full of racial stereotypes, but the last third was very good and there were some very strong women present throughout I didn t like how 90% of the men in the novel were sex obsessed assholes who badgered women to have sex with them despite the women saying no I mean, maybe it was a just a couple guys, or just Ana s perception of men, but it seemed like everyone but Dalehouse was a pig, which isn t very fair to men The book was written in the 70s though, so maybe it was Pohl s opinion exaggeration of the treatment of women back then that caused this common characterization.I did like a bunch of stuff the alien races were neat and the not so ideal planet was a cool concept that added a lot to the plot The splitting of Earth into three factions was an interesting idea as well, and the Cold War inspired apocalypse was a nice bonus I also really liked Margie, as she was tough, intelligent, determined, and didn t take shit from anyone she was awesome actually, and she made the story for me Overall, this book started out as a bathroom read , but by about page 200 I took it out of the washroom and read it for real And if that happens, there is something great about it The last third was that something great If you like serious as in not campy 70s sci fi with a touch of Cold War nuclear trepidation, you ll like this novel Basically it s a novel to read 2 3 pages at a time while you attend to bodily functions Jem was written in 1980 In context, the 1980s were the later stages of the cold war, which saw the two dominant super powers America and the Soviet Union square off against each other in covert operations and subterfuge The Soviet war in Afghanistan happened in 1979, and the People s Republic of China was starting to make themselves known on the world stage On the back of this, Pohl wrote Jem, a future novel where the world has consolidated into three political blocs Food, Fuel and People Jem was written in 1980 In context, the 1980s were the later stages of the cold war, which saw the two dominant super powers America and the Soviet Union square off against each other in covert operations and subterfuge The Soviet war in Afghanistan happened in 1979, and the People s Republic of China was starting to make themselves known on the world stage On the back of this, Pohl wrote Jem, a future novel where the world has consolidated into three political blocs Food, Fuel and People Each block is rich in one resource, but poor in others Earth politics are a delicate game of co operation without benevolence between the blocs, made by shadowy individuals with games of cloak and dagger.The novel opens with a scientist s desire to travel to another world Not unsual, and at this point, space travel is a relatively common occurrence But their target is a world which could be colonised, a new idea As the story progresses, a race develops and we see the politics, manipulation and cost necessary for the mission to go ahead.On the planet we find three sentient species of life forms As each bloc arrives, they each form a relationship to a species, and the delicate balance of the planet is upset as politics and colonial motives overtake the ecology of the planet.The original idea that mankind could go and colonise a new planet and give humanity a fresh start is explored here in a sobering light, with a good explanation of why humanity may not be ready yet and what may very well happen when we do The conclusion to the book is not a major leap but the story, the political wrangling and the motivations of the individuals, as well as the clearly apparent changes to Jem, are an excellent counter point to the typical Utopia story |READ E-PUB ♬ Jem ⚔ En un futuro muy lejano, la Tierra vive un equilibrio precario la poblaci n crece inversamente a los recursos, y una suerte de guerra fr a divide el mundo en tres bloques irreconciliables Con el descubrimiento de Jem, un planeta rico y habitable, surge la oportunidad de empezar de cero Sin embargo, toda esperanza de renacimiento de la humanidad se desvanece cuando, a trav s de un juego hip crita de alianzas con las especies aut ctonas, los colonizadores reproducen la arrogancia y el salvajismo que los hab a condenado, importando el m s antiguo producto de la industria y el ingenio la guerra I have probably read this three times now, first time was probably in 1979 or 1980.The first time I read it, I was 19 or 20 and I was initially very taken by the newly discovered world and its alien species I was looking for a complete exploration of the 3 species, their biology, culture and their world, but instead I was disappointed that the book focused so much on the humans, and political strife back on Earth.Reading it again now, I realize that it was really an allegorical criticism of the I have probably read this three times now, first time was probably in 1979 or 1980.The first time I read it, I was 19 or 20 and I was initially very taken by the newly discovered world and its alien species I was looking for a complete exploration of the 3 species, their biology, culture and their world, but instead I was disappointed that the book focused so much on the humans, and political strife back on Earth.Reading it again now, I realize that it was really an allegorical criticism of the cold war, the nuclear arms race, the militarization of everything and the MAD Mutual Assured Destruction ideas of the 60 s and 70 s The bigotry and racism of much of the dialogue is quite shocking to read nowadays Other people s from Earth are describes as Paks, Spics, Limies, Greasies, Fats etc and the aliens are referred to as creepies, cockroaches etc Really quite appalling to the modern readers, but I guess it was all part of Pohl s critique of the times we lived in when the book was written.The book left me quite disgusted and despondent about the human race really, it made me think it would probably be best for the rest of the universe if we don t manage to develop interstellar space travel before we destroy ourselves Rarely have I read such an apallingly negative view of humanity that s not a bad thing, but nevertheless, I didn t love the book It s probably the most interesting work by Pohl I ve yet read, however. It was such a mess The political blocs on earth didn t make any sense to me and I felt like Pohl didn t take the time to explain them so that they would make sense So they felt too contrived The characters were shallow caricatures Danny Dalehouse was the only likeable character and there was no real pushback to the aggressive winner take all mentality even though everyone supposedly wanted to create this utopia Danny, as likeable as he was, was a weak voice of reason The whole concept was It was such a mess The political blocs on earth didn t make any sense to me and I felt like Pohl didn t take the time to explain them so that they would make sense So they felt too contrived The characters were shallow caricatures Danny Dalehouse was the only likeable character and there was no real pushback to the aggressive winner take all mentality even though everyone supposedly wanted to create this utopia Danny, as likeable as he was, was a weak voice of reason The whole concept was poorly executed leaving the story with no depth or complexity And there are three intelligent species on Son of Klong, or Jem The krinprits and balloonists live in these little social groups and basically never interact with social groups of their species Really Never OK the balloonists sometimes communicate or maybe join a different group when young, but there are no territorial disputes, no exchange of ideas or DNA soon they ll be entirely separate species without enough genetic diversity to survive Really, it s just ludicrous that these two species live so independently of anyone else in their same species The krinprits are even worse totally ignoring the existence of krinprits from other cities The whole premise of these two species in particular is too preposterous for me to take seriously The third species didn t seem so far fetched, but maybe that may have beenaccidental that through any plan on Pohl s part Don t get me wrong, I could perfectly believe the dystopian ending, but that was the only part of the whole novel that really felt believable to me The rest was too superficial.I m giving it 2 stars instead of just one because in spite of the superficiality of it all, the description of Jem and the species on Jem was really inventive and I did enjoy those short little bits