Back to the future

Julian Symons

  • The Children of Men by P.D. James
    Faber, 239 pp, £14.99, September 1992, ISBN 0 571 16741 1
  • A Philosophical Investigation by Philip Kerr
    Chatto, 336 pp, £14.99, September 1992, ISBN 0 7011 4553 6
  • Spoilt by Georgina Hammick
    Chatto, 212 pp, £13.99, August 1992, ISBN 0 7011 4133 6
  • The Death of the Author by Gilbert Adair
    Heinemann, 135 pp, £13.99, August 1992, ISBN 0 434 00623 8
  • Jerusalem Commands by Michael Moorcock
    Cape, 577 pp, £15.99, July 1992, ISBN 0 224 03074 4

Versions of the future (1). The year is 2021, human life is dying out. The last human being was born in 1996, and has just been killed outside Buenos Aires in a pub brawl. Infertility is world-wide, but we are not concerned with its effects in North or South America, Africa or India, or anywhere but Britain, where the apparently benevolent authority of the Council is ruled or guided by the Warden, Xan Lypiatt. Interest in sex is waning, although substitutes in the form of various massages are available on the NHS. Lady Margaret Hall is the massage centre for Oxford, and in Oxford lives the diarist-narrator Theo Faron, cousin and boyhood friend of the Warden and teacher of history (‘the least rewarding discipline for a dying species’) to the last generation born, the beautiful, hostile Omegas.

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