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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Grim and Unsparing
Bleak is the first word that comes to mind-which is not a bad thing. Disch's debut novel was part of a movement in sci-fi at the time that rejected the prevailing paradigm of human ingenuity and/or nobility being able to save the Earth from alien attack (no matter how technological advanced those aliens were). In this slim novel he tells the story of a small band of...
Published on 12 Mar 2003 by A. Ross

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3.0 out of 5 stars Uncompromising and, ultimately, unenlightening.
This story was born from the best of intentions; the essence of science fiction had too often been one of heroism, hope, survival in the face of great adversity -- this book attempts to be an antidote to false hope, to take Fritz Leiber's view, that to the aliens, we will seem naught but ants, and they to us will seem like devils. All very laudable, but not perhaps the...
Published on 22 Jan 2012 by Behan


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Grim and Unsparing, 12 Mar 2003
By 
A. Ross (Washington, DC) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Genocides (Vintage) (Paperback)
Bleak is the first word that comes to mind-which is not a bad thing. Disch's debut novel was part of a movement in sci-fi at the time that rejected the prevailing paradigm of human ingenuity and/or nobility being able to save the Earth from alien attack (no matter how technological advanced those aliens were). In this slim novel he tells the story of a small band of Minnesotan farmers near Duluth who are struggling to survive the blanketing of Earth by a mysterious and apparently indestructible species of trees. In the seven years since the spores first appeared, the trees have spread across the globe, sucking all nutrition from earth, drying up rivers and lakes, and generally destroying the planet's ecological balance.
At the same time, some kind of automated drones have been leveling cities with fire and gradually seeking out remaining mammals to toast. The implication is clear: Earth has been designated as a planetary cropfield, and all pests need to be eliminated so the crop can thrive. That premise is neat, but the main theme is how the surviving humans interact with one another and newcomers. It's clear that Disch was determined to show how the uglier side of human nature would prevail in such a high-stress situation. Throughout the story, jealousies, rivalries, and petty disputes between characters threaten the safety of the group. Indeed, at times, the various conflicts concerning the women get a little too melodramatic for the situation, but on the whole, the atmosphere is great, especially when the survivors are forced underground into the trees' root system.
A great take on the alien invasion story, it could benefit from a little trimming in the second half. Still, if you like your sci-fi grim and unsparing, this is the book for you!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars We're doomed!, 4 May 2009
This review is from: The Genocides (Vintage) (Paperback)
The aliens have come, invaded earth and won. They weren't interested in us. All they wanted was our land to grow crops. Their relationship to us is as the farmer to the bug. They conquered us without even realising there was a battle for survival. Now the few remaining humans live in the roots and branches of the alien's crops. Survival is the best they can hope for; rebellion is beyond their hopes.

This is depressing or realistic, depending on your outlook on life. This novel is a perfect antidote to the traditional invasion story in which alien beings of roughly similar technology and outlook battle for territory. Here Mankind's place in the universe is at the bottom of the pile.

Most sf novels presents Mankind as ornery critters tenaciously carving a niche for ourselves in the universe; the rest go for the pessimistic view that we are violent and oppressive colonisers. But this novel goes for something unique: we are insignificant, doomed and irrelevant... Don't expect a happy ending!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very dark and still relevant, 3 Oct 2005
This review is from: The Genocides (Vintage) (Paperback)
My only wish for this book was that it should be longer and go into some of the charactors and events in more detail.
Written in the early 70s this is a very dark SF tale. You can see the way that it's heading from the start...and the conclusion leaves a lasting impression. Well worth a read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Dares to be dark, 29 Mar 2013
This review is from: The Genocides (Vintage) (Paperback)
This is one of the most unexpectedly compelling and thought-provoking SF novels I've read. The tale of alien invasion is described entirely from the perspective of everyday humans who don't quite realise that the Earth is being turned into a farm planet by unseen and completely uncaring aliens. The story is short, fast-paced and takes the protagonists on an increasingly desperate journey. Other reviews have hinted at the dark ending, so I won't spoil it any more - but yes, it's dark, and comes like a sucker punch just when you think it's all over. This is one of the few books that I've read in a single sitting, unable to put it down. It's a genuinely thought-provoking read, which will occupy your mind for weeks afterwards. Highly recommended.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Depressing, but captivating, 3 Jun 2012
By 
Mr. D. Cooper "Deano" (England Wolverhampton) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Genocides (Vintage) (Paperback)
Picked this up from the Charity shop with little idea what to expect. Turns out i enjoyed this book a lot and although its not a big book, it pulls one hell of a punch, that will leave a lasting impression long after you put the book down.

This book is depressing and it seeps into your very soul, as you are reading, your mind is trying to come up with ways in which these poor people could survive the threat, but you know its useless as there is no escape. Survival is the best they can hope for. All you can do as a reader is suffer with them as they plod on in this alien infested world.

I don't want to spoil anything, so all i suggest is that you pick up a copy, i don't think you will be disappointed.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Uncompromising and, ultimately, unenlightening., 22 Jan 2012
This review is from: The Genocides (Vintage) (Paperback)
This story was born from the best of intentions; the essence of science fiction had too often been one of heroism, hope, survival in the face of great adversity -- this book attempts to be an antidote to false hope, to take Fritz Leiber's view, that to the aliens, we will seem naught but ants, and they to us will seem like devils. All very laudable, but not perhaps the most comfortable reading. It's hard to like a book as relentlessly hopeless and cynical as The Genocides, especially when the author's attempt to examine the bizarre psychosexual motivations of everyday human beings is framed in an SF premise that is pretty lacking in internal logic.

The setting reminds of Hothouse, as it involves a future where the world has become an alien jungle, a monoculture forest dominated by giant alien trees plucked straight from The World of Null-A and pockets of humanity have returned to a pioneer or crofter's lifestyle as in The Chrysalids. It's familiar post-apocalyptic territory, and Disch cynically imagines all the terrible depths of depravity that the resulting society must resort to. In the end, Disch has nowhere to take this concept, and must therefore engineer a climax between the principal characters in the third act to give book some kind of ending. This would be just fine, except that, in the crescendo, he over-works the character studies into grotesques and spends too long winding around subterranean tunnels and the reader's interest soon gets lost in the dark recesses.

Not great, not terrible and written stylishly enough to make it diverting; but for a book on a bold mission, a little deflated by the end.
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3.0 out of 5 stars When man becomes irrelevent at home, 14 Dec 2011
This review is from: The Genocides (Vintage) (Paperback)
Occasionally I dip into old 1960s sci-fi novels between my usual classics etc. I'm thus not a sci-fi buff or widely read of the format but I like to see what people wrote what they thought our current era would be like. What did this 1965 book by Disch predict?

Genocides is a story about a rural family surviving (or not?) the end of the world in 1980. The basic idea is that millions of plant spores arrive on the earth which rapidly grow into massive plants. The plants displace all other flora, killing of fauna and impacting on the food-web. Humanity starts to starve being unable to hold back the tide of growth. Later `incendiaries' much like `War of the Worlds' descend to burn off the pests (e.g. humans). An example town lead by Anderson and his sons Buddy and Neil defend crops and act against marauding gangs displaced from the city. The group starts in the hundreds and diminishes as each setback kicks in. After a murderous defence the group decide to allow Orville (from the city) to survive; this creates the dynamic in that Anderson is getting old and needs an heir and Buddy is an idiot. Others in the group include wives and sisters get pregnant by men not necessarily their husbands. Ultimately the small group try to survive underground using the plants' network of huge hollow tubers.

The story is a typical apocalyptic tale - a mix of the Triffids, the Death of Grass, The Last Man with a hint of The Road and for all that is a pleasant speedy read. It's not too ground breaking but I did like the understated alien aspect (there are none as such) - its just large scale outer space farming. The story doesn't really make any future predictions that might appear naive to a modern reader as such indeed awareness of global issues of water scarcity, hints of climate change and social degeneration are there. I think the story lost it (pun intended) in the darkness of the plant tubers being too contrived, too long and a little implausible (ok it's a sci-fi novel). For all its faults and lack of literary/character development this is ultimately a relatively good depiction about how bad and selfish people can get even at `the end'. I'll give it 3 stars and say it's marginally better than `The death of Grass'.
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The Genocides (Vintage)
The Genocides (Vintage) by Thomas M. Disch (Paperback - Sep 2000)
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