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The Year of Compulsory Childbirth by [Farringdon, Nigel]
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The Year of Compulsory Childbirth Kindle Edition

5.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Length: 288 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 618 KB
  • Print Length: 288 pages
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005CXON4O
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #984,977 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Format: Kindle Edition
I must confess I have a passion for novels like "1984" and "Brave New World", so I had a feeling I was going to like this one before I started. This novel tells the story of a world in which women are conscripted to have children (shades of Margaret Atwood) after the world's population has been decimated by AIDS and other tragedies. Resistance comes from the immediate descendents of the original members of an academic organization called the "Logic Society" - who are all amusingly named after the various Aristotelian syllogisms. (The heroine is called Barbara and her sisters are called Bocardo, Baroco and Bramantip.)

The only surviving member of the original Logic society, Barbara's mentor Sophia Magnus ("Great Wisdom") acts as a sort of philosophical leader to Barbara, her sisters and a young man called Darii (who provides the love interest for Barbara, despite being a few years younger). It is the younger generation, however, who provide the story action as they engage in a campaign of resistance against the increasingly tyrannical authorities. The latter, for their part, are engaged in a rear-guard action against a theocratic organization called The Faithful who would happily carry the dictatorship forward to the next level.

I am not one for spoilers, but I will say that Farringdon is more of an optimist than Orwell or Huxley.
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Format: Kindle Edition
It's a long time since I read Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, but this book reminded me of it. I think the author may have been influenced by Anthony Burgess and maybe some of the American libertarian writers. Anyway, I can't add anything to the description of the book, all I will say is that it was clever, exciting and highly relevant to today's world. It's easy to write about freedom versus tyranny, but what Farringdon explores is why some people of liberal inclinations might be tempted towards pragmatic authoritarian solutions. In that sense, this book is a stark warning about the dangers of short-termism and range-of-the-moment expediency. It's also an exciting story.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I see I'm not the first to pick up on the Aldous Huxley connection and won't be the last. But it's the humour that does it. The premise is that an underpopulated world (due to AIDS and other factors) decides to take draconian steps to repopulate. This might not have any bearing on the current situation, but it is the author's clever way of asking a question that is equally applicable in an overpopulated or an underpopulated society: how far can you go in curtailing human freedom in order to preserve the human species as a whole. The author even introduces the book with a quotation from a couple of ecologists and environmental campaigners.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x8ec92a2c) out of 5 stars 7 reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8eca65c4) out of 5 stars Good Idea, Poor Execution 19 Jun. 2012
By Laura A. Difiore - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Honestly, I'm not entirely sure how I managed to make it all the way to the end of this book, it has SO many problems! Yet there is enough of a glimmer of hope that, with much work, Nigel Farringdon's "The Year of Compulsory Childbirth" has the potential to eventually evolve into a very good book.

The TL;DR:
- Epic amount of typos and other errors ("scarecely," "excersise")
- Inconsistent spelling standard. Use British spelling or American spelling, not both (i.e., don't use both "defense" AND "defence")
- Reads like a long-winded lecture on logic and rationality yet fails to deliver logical consistency
- Consistently "tells" instead of "shows"
- Use of historical philosophers and philosophical constructs for character naming is lame and fails to achieve apparent goals of the author
- Conversations are long-winded and fail to provide speaker clues
- Word choice is often pretentious and out-of-character.
- Excessively describes the obvious (honestly, we don't need pages explaining key encryption)
- EVOLVE the plot, instead of shouting it at the reader right from the beginning.

First off, this book needs SERIOUS copy-editing. The typos, doubled words, repeated short phrases, grammatical errors, inconsistencies, and other errors are found on nearly every page. It's a real chore to read the book and turn a blind eye to the many mistakes. While it is obvious that a spell-checker has been used on the text, it needs real human eyes to edit it. The incomplete sentences are annoying, and the copy/paste editing failures are numerous. The run-on sentences are rampant, with numerous "gems" like this one: "As Bocardo raced towards them they reached for the guns slung loosely over their shoulders and tried to level them into firing positions as they prepared to challenge this odd looking couple who were approaching a prohibited area without prior notice having been given to the guards."

The next major problem of the book is that the author argues for the strength and power of logical, rational thinking yet fails to maintain logical consistency throughout the book. The most annoying of the inconsistencies is that of place: Is the bulk of the story taking place in England, as most commonly stated, or is it taking place in the entirety of the European Union? Or is it taking place in America? If Luther is the head of England, then call him Prime Minister or some such other appropriate title, not President. If in the future the leader of England and/or Great Britain is now called President, then as an author you better dang well explain somewhere in the story how such a nomenclature change came about. If Luther is, instead, the leader of the European Union, then perhaps it is appropriate to call him President, but then why is he determining policy for just *one* country in the European Union? Why is Luther's Security Chief, Eric Chain, "obsessed with his own role in American mythology" and "rolling on the floor laughing" at "reports broadcast to millions of AMERICAN households" if he's British, living in England, in a story that doesn't take place in America??

I question the location consistency of the story so harshly because I got the distinct impression that the author originally placed the story in America, then changed his mind and decided to place it in England. It reads like Farringdon just did a massive search/replace instead of going through the book and consistently editing the change of location.

The entire book reads like one long lecture/rant, which is such a shame because it is obvious that the author has a valid social commentary to make, albeit one that is placed in a not very believable cultural and political environment. If you are going to use a plot that revolves around compulsory pregnancy as a metaphor arguing against government intrusion into private lives and draconian enforcement of regulations, you MUST make it believable. As a reader, I *want* to believe that whatever I am reading actually *could* happen, especially when reading dystopian novels. As a reader, I found myself thinking of dozens of ways to achieve the goal of increasing the birth rate WITHOUT forcibly impregnating women, which made the authority of the plotline itself suspect as I continued to read. If you really wanted to create a good dystopian plot centered on a woman's choice, it would have been far more creepy and eerie if Luther's government had chosen to do things like secretly infusing the food supply with fertility drugs, government "grants" for child birth, etc., the stuff of good conspiracies, you know?

I was irritated at the choice of character names. Seriously, as an author, NEVER EVER try to be cute and clever with character names (unless you are writing a fantasy). It was apparently - badly so, actually - that the author was trying to tell us something about each of the characters by choosing names that represented specific philosophies and philosophical concepts. The historical Luther would never have chosen forced pregnancy, especially on unmarried women :) Darii is a representation of a syllogistic argument, yet the character Darri has a predilection for 18-year-old twin girls and thinks threatening to "paddle the pair of you" is "tough-guy talk" like Mickey Spillane while hacking government computer systems using the name of Apollo ... are you kidding me?

By the way, it's just not very believable that 18-year-old twin girls who aren't concerned with anything more intellectually challenging than splashing water in a swimming pool would use words like "Helios" and "melanoma"... characters should *sound* like themselves.

Choosing to name Barbara's three sisters, Baroco (yet another syllogism mnemonic), Borcardo (perhaps a homage to the mathematician Henri Brocard?), and Bramantip (and another mnemonic!) was confusing. The names are just too similar and since all of the sister characters fail to be fully and distinctly developed, it creates more confusion for the reader.

The only names I found nonirritating was the name of Barbara and her alias of Bellona. Bellona (Roman goddess of war) was not only an appropriate alias for her to use, it was BELIEVABLE that the character of Barbara would *choose* that name for herself.

I won't bother getting into the flat, cookie-cutter character development...

Having said all of the above, however, I do want to mention that the ONLY reason I am bothering taking this much time and space to criticize the book is because it has potential. A lot of potential. The use of a metaphorical plot within a dystopian world setting for social commentary purposes is always laudable. The general idea behind the book (forced pregnancy, etc.,) has the potential to develop into a really creepy plot, one with much room for devious twists and page-turning angst. Farringdon has something to say that has the potential to be highly thought-provoking, and it is abundantly apparent that a lot of thought and work went into writing the book, something I always appreciate. I truly do hope that Farringdon chooses to rethink and rework his plot, and go over every single word with a fine-tooth grammatical comb. I would look forward to rereading it then.

It's just the execution that fails, miserably. This book, as it is, is at best a rough-draft. At worst, it's a waste of time.

One final thought: For those reviewers that audaciously compared this to "1984," I question if you ever even read "1984." There is zero comparison between the two.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8ef9c648) out of 5 stars Maybe it's the Kindle version 20 Sept. 2011
By Joseph Tobolski - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The other reviewers spoke of some of the plot elements, which I will not belabor. But whomever edited the Kindle edition, please take a refresher course. Mis-spelled words, bad punctuation, deus ex machina solutions are just a few of the issues I noted. There's a section where the author refers to "half a million Americans" cheering in Trafalgar square (apparently they're a long way from home). The constant appearance of these mistakes diminished the enjoyment I might have had from this novel
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8ef9c54c) out of 5 stars Great attempt, poor execution 18 Sept. 2012
By Freestyleloafer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
The book seemed interesting enough, but I decided to delete it within 3 days rather than try to suffer through the whole thing. The author seemed more interested in showing off scientific knowledge than writing a good book. Also, there were too many typos and incomplete sentences for this to be enjoyable for me. Boo.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8eca69fc) out of 5 stars Welcome to the pantheon 26 July 2011
By felicie rosenberg - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book is a worthy successor to 1984 and Brave New World. It also has shades of Logan's Run (the movie at least). It is quite heavy on the philosophical side, but also very clever in terms of the way in which the heroes (and heroines) fight against the dictatorship. Even though they are operating as a small band and not an army, their vast array of knowledge enables them to use such techniques as computer hacking and genetic engineering. The fact that the enemy is divided also helps. There are also some nice set-piece action sequences, including a dramatic helicopter rescue. This book belongs in the pantheon of libertarian literature as well as having an uplifting ending. Definitely worth the money.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8eca6bac) out of 5 stars The Year Of Compulsory Childbirth 3 Sept. 2012
By Mark L. Blei - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I was happy to get this book for free. It was an extremely good premise, with good characters, very poorly written out. I found myself skimming to get to the end..
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