21 Jan 2009
Review: "Bring the Jubilee" by Ward Moore
After a long while of neglecting my challenge of reading every book in the SF masterworks series, I finally got round to visiting my local library and tracked down this book.
Number 42 in the SF masterworks list, Bring the Jubilee by Ward Moore is a distopian alternative history story about a world in which the battle of Gettysburg had been won not by The Union but by The Confederate States of America. Call me a simpleminded dullard if you want, but I'm not exactly an expert on American history, so it took me a while (ie. the duration of the book) to realise that this was the case. Nevertheless, I did notice that it was an alternative history, and a particularly bleak one. The story follows Hodge Backmaker throughout his life in the poverty stricken North America. For the first two thirds, I did think to myself "never mind the jubilee, bring on the end of this bleedin' book" as It was somewhat of a drag. It did pick up towards the end, when Hodge joins a community of scholars, and witnesses the invention of a time machine. I enjoyed the ending (which I won't ruin) and felt it made up for the slow start of the novel.
As far as main characters go, Hodge Backmaker is a dull one. He seems self obsessed, whiny and uncaring towards the other characters. This book would have certainly been more enjoyable had there been more focus placed on the interesting idea of the narrative, and less on the main character himself.
I certainly wouldn't describe this book as a thrilling page turner, but if you're after a short, thought-provoking distraction it might be worth a try.