A retro review from January 8, 2013.
Review: North by 2000+, ed. H. A. Hargreaves, 2012.
There are four possible audiences for this collection.
Fans of Hargreaves or admirers of North by 2000 will want this book. It adds four stories to that earlier volume to make it a complete collection of Hargreaves’ science fiction.
Students of Canadian science fiction will definitely want it. As editor Runté notes, North by 2000: A Collection of Canadian Science Fiction, published in 1975, was the first collection of science fiction stories to be explicitly marketed as belonging to a Canadian. In his very useful and interesting afterword, Runté talks about the themes and their implications which set Canadian science fiction apart from that of the British or American variety. Like so many Canadian science fiction writers, Hargreaves was an immigrant – from the Bronx, specifically. He lived and taught literature at a Canadian college and eventually became a Canadian citizen. While Hargreaves submitted stories to the American magazine Analog, its editor, John W. Campbell, never accepted any. All the stories of the original volume were published in British publications, and some of the additional ones first saw light in non-genre Canadian magazines. Runté shows how the Canadian preoccupation with the polar world, national disaster (even if only of the political sort), and alienated outsiders plays out in specific Hargreaves’ stories, stories whose protagonists are often “victims, or losers with occasional wins”.
If you like to read old science fiction, however technologically dated, for insights into the time it was written (here 1963-2011), you’ll probably like this collection. Most share a common world, a future Americanada (which, as Runté notes, could be construed as a national political disaster for a Canadian) administered by vast computer banks, a universal welfare state where people carry their resumes and bank information on AP punch cards aka All Purpose Cards, where penal systems have been greatly modified (including, in one instance, mandatory hockey lessons), people live in Efficiency Living Spaces with fold up furniture, pipelines cross the wilderness and cities are being built in the Arctic waste. Yes, these stories are from that era in science fiction when vast national and international projects were dreamed, central planning and administration was the vogue, and the psychological sciences were thought to be able to solve old and new problems. Continue reading