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Los genocidas

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Primero llegan las gigantescas plantas verdes y cubren la Tierra, asfixiando toda otra forma de vida. Luego llegan los incineradores y completan el exterminio. “Éste es un libro diferente acerca de seres que invaden la Tierra. Disch no ha escrito una novela de cómo tendría que ser: nos muestra convincentemente cómo ha de ser el mundo en una situación determinada. Fácilmente Primero llegan las gigantescas plantas verdes y cubren la Tierra, asfixiando toda otra forma de vida. Luego llegan los incineradores y completan el exterminio. “Éste es un libro diferente acerca de seres que invaden la Tierra. Disch no ha escrito una novela de cómo tendría que ser: nos muestra convincentemente cómo ha de ser el mundo en una situación determinada. Fácilmente uno de los mejores libros del año” – Judith Merril “Quizá la mejor descripción de las consecuencias de un desastre desde ”El día de los trífidos“” – Sun


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Primero llegan las gigantescas plantas verdes y cubren la Tierra, asfixiando toda otra forma de vida. Luego llegan los incineradores y completan el exterminio. “Éste es un libro diferente acerca de seres que invaden la Tierra. Disch no ha escrito una novela de cómo tendría que ser: nos muestra convincentemente cómo ha de ser el mundo en una situación determinada. Fácilmente Primero llegan las gigantescas plantas verdes y cubren la Tierra, asfixiando toda otra forma de vida. Luego llegan los incineradores y completan el exterminio. “Éste es un libro diferente acerca de seres que invaden la Tierra. Disch no ha escrito una novela de cómo tendría que ser: nos muestra convincentemente cómo ha de ser el mundo en una situación determinada. Fácilmente uno de los mejores libros del año” – Judith Merril “Quizá la mejor descripción de las consecuencias de un desastre desde ”El día de los trífidos“” – Sun

30 review for Los genocidas

  1. 5 out of 5

    BlackOxford

    Gaia Strikes Back The Genocides, written in 1965, is part of a very specialized dystopian sub-genre which might be called ‘Apocalyptic Greenery.’ This collection of anti-biophilia stretches at least from Greener Than You Think (1947), to The Day 0f the Triffids (1951), to Death of Grass (1982). All consider various sorts of revenge by the plant kingdom on its primary oppressors, human beings. The moral is clear: the world which houses us is not friendly toward us. Of these fantasies The Genocides Gaia Strikes Back The Genocides, written in 1965, is part of a very specialized dystopian sub-genre which might be called ‘Apocalyptic Greenery.’ This collection of anti-biophilia stretches at least from Greener Than You Think (1947), to The Day 0f the Triffids (1951), to Death of Grass (1982). All consider various sorts of revenge by the plant kingdom on its primary oppressors, human beings. The moral is clear: the world which houses us is not friendly toward us. Of these fantasies The Genocides is certainly the most homicidal as well as the most biblically apocalyptic, referencing specific Old Testament passages throughout. Appropriately enough one of the key characters is a fundamentalist preacher turned survivalist. The send-up of Christianity is obvious in the comments made by one of his sons: “One way or another, atheists had to be stomped out. Because atheism was like poison in the town reservoir; it was like…. But Neil couldn’t remember how the rest of it went. It had been a long time since his father had given a good sermon against atheism and the Supreme Court.” The Genocides differs from its peers in that it is not human beings who are the cause of earthly destruction but a mysterious alien race which uses the Earth as a plantation within which human beings, and apparently all other living things except a highly invasive species of plant, are merely vermin. The Genocides is also the only one to avoid any cliched allegory to the Cold War, a favourite trope among contemporary sci-fi writers. The ‘enemy’ is not our human confreres but something entirely ‘other.’ Disch suggests, therefore, that there are bigger problems than either international nuclear conflict or environmental destruction on the horizon: “There is evil everywhere, but we can only see what is in front of our noses, only remember what has passed through our bellies,” says the preacher’s other son. The clear suggestion is that we are part of a hierarchical gnostic universe which might contain any number of increasingly powerful species. To those some level beyond human, we are indeed mere vermin, as they perhaps are to those even more powerful. Of course these unexplained aliens and their technologies of agriculture and pest-control are metaphorical but not in a hackneyed way. Disch points specifically to his issue: “There had been the intoxication, while it lasted, of power. Not the cool, gloved power of wealth that had ruled before, but a newer (or an older) kind of power that came from having the strength to perpetuate extreme inequity.” This is, I think, the core of the book: Power, what it is, how it is used, and where it leads, which is to eternal inequity. There is an important theological criticism here of Disch’s childhood Catholic education which insisted that all power comes from God and is distributed for the ultimate good of creation. Disch makes no distinction between good power and bad power or between the power of Nature and the power of God. Power is of one kind only. It is a force which coerces. “Before the advent of the Plants, Tassel [a once prosperous farming community] had been the objectification of everything he despised: smallness, meanness, willful ignorance and a moral code as contemporary as Leviticus,” thinks the educated brother. After the Plants and their alien Farmers arrive, the real status of human beings and their self-justifying ideas of power derived from some divinity are made clear: “They were the puppets of necessity now.” He who has the ‘best’ moral ideas, or the best weapons to enforce adherence to them, is ultimately irrelevant whether he knows it or not. Power is mere conceit and is only negatively associated with the divine. The pursuit of power, in other words, is a central human failing. Ultimately it is vain, and will be proven so. None of us likes to recognise this. The idea of the divine source of power, it seems, is a typical human ploy to exert power over power by confining it in a benign (or at least sentient) box called God. “It wounded his pride to think that his race, his species, his world was being defeated with such apparent ease. What was worse, what he could not endure was the suspicion that it all meant nothing, that the process of their annihilation was something quite mechanical: that mankind’s destroyers were not, in other words, fighting a war but merely spraying the garden.”

  2. 5 out of 5

    TK421

    THE GENOCIDES is a disturbing book: full of violence, unlikable characters, and an ending that will leave most people either flustered or upset...but, on the other hand, this is a very cool story. The earth as we know it has been overrun with an alien plant species. This alien destroys the land by using up all of earth's water, forever altering the soil. Yeah, I know, it sounds like a cheesy B-movie. But it is anything but a cheesy B-movie plot line. These characters have depth...which leads me THE GENOCIDES is a disturbing book: full of violence, unlikable characters, and an ending that will leave most people either flustered or upset...but, on the other hand, this is a very cool story. The earth as we know it has been overrun with an alien plant species. This alien destroys the land by using up all of earth's water, forever altering the soil. Yeah, I know, it sounds like a cheesy B-movie. But it is anything but a cheesy B-movie plot line. These characters have depth...which leads me back to the top of this review. There wasn't one character that I found I liked. If anything, I liked the alien the best. Normally, I root (sorry for the pun) for humanity...strange. The invasion aspect of this novel would have been more than enough to satisfy my reading needs; but Disch also fully fleshes out the survival story, which kept me turning pages and wondering who was going to die next? Was there even going to be a survivor, will humankind ultimately kill this foe? If you are looking for a quick, philosophical read that is not the normal science fiction lot, this book is it. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

  3. 4 out of 5

    Robert

    At one point in this novel a character expresses the view, "I'm not sure if we've been invaded or if they're just spraying the garden." Aliens have seeded the Earth with giant Plants that tend to eliminate all other plants by out-competing them for basic resources such as water and sunlight. Machines are systematically wiping out not merely humans, but all mammals. A band of survivors in the former USA struggle against Plants, aliens and - themselves. Despite the likely imminent extinction of th At one point in this novel a character expresses the view, "I'm not sure if we've been invaded or if they're just spraying the garden." Aliens have seeded the Earth with giant Plants that tend to eliminate all other plants by out-competing them for basic resources such as water and sunlight. Machines are systematically wiping out not merely humans, but all mammals. A band of survivors in the former USA struggle against Plants, aliens and - themselves. Despite the likely imminent extinction of the species, people still can't stop themselves from getting involved in destructive power politics and personal rivalries. It feels depressingly realistic. The story is interesting and the bleak but realistic idea that if aliens with interstellar travel technology turned up here and didn't like us we wouldn't stand an - Earthly? - chance is in stark contrast to the much more commonplace scenario that the aliens will be defeated by their own hubris e.g. The War of the Worlds or humanity's intrinsic superior adaptability and inventiveness e.g. nigh-on every alien invader story from the 1950s on. But that isn't really what this book is about. It is in fact about spraying the garden - with dodgy chemicals. And turning over huge land areas to mono-culture crop growth. And global climate change - this has the earliest reference to the Greenhouse Effect of any piece of fiction I've read, as far as I can remember. Really, this is the fictional equivalent of the extra-ordinarily influential popular science work, Silent Spring. Other SF writers were working on the general environmental theme and the problems of bio-accumulating insecticides specifically back then, The Green Brain being a prime example. Other major problems facing humanity and indeed, much of life on Earth, were also being tackled back then, for instance population control, in A Torrent of Faces, a lesser known but tremendously fun James Blish novel in which a society trying to cope with a human population of one trillion is examined. So, all those problems, understood back in the sixties - how many of them have we solved? And how many have got worse?

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kathryn

    This is a difficult book to rate. I can not deny being completely wrapped up in the story. The final scene upset me a great deal, which is part of why I held off commenting on the book until now, more than a day after finishing. Books as disturbing as this tend to age well with me. I enjoy the after effects of being disturbed. I'm not kidding, this book really bothered me, which means I will probably return and change my rating to 5 stars if I follow my previous pattern. The Genocides is a short This is a difficult book to rate. I can not deny being completely wrapped up in the story. The final scene upset me a great deal, which is part of why I held off commenting on the book until now, more than a day after finishing. Books as disturbing as this tend to age well with me. I enjoy the after effects of being disturbed. I'm not kidding, this book really bothered me, which means I will probably return and change my rating to 5 stars if I follow my previous pattern. The Genocides is a short sci-fi novel that packs quite a punch. The only other Disch novel I have read is Camp Concentration, which I did enjoy slightly more. Concentration was more social commentary and Genocides feels more traditional sci-fi. This is a violent book, more than I expected, which is silly on my part considering the title. What really convinces me that Disch was an excellent and underrated author (maybe less known over underrated since this book was nominated for a Best Novel Nebula) is that I disliked every single character in this book and still love the story, was still incredibly bothered by what I read. I felt zero respect for the characters and I was barely into the story before I was wondering if these people even deserved to live (children excluded of course. Just had to say that considering...) If you are a fan of H.G Wells but thought his work was maybe a little too tame, maybe not violent enough?, then this is the perfect novel for you. So, that did not take long. I have nothing negative to say about this book and after reading what I just wrote, I'm rating a final 5 stars.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Oleksandr Zholud

    This is a SF post-apoc environmental catastrophe novel that was a Nebula Award nominee in 1965, which I read as a part of Earth Day Challenge in Hugo & Nebula Awards: Best Novels One of the early environmental catastrophe books out there. The calamity, giant alien plants, which grow fast and therefore strangle local competition, came from space, and not, as in many later works is caused by men. The plant destroy agriculture and cause global famine. A sturdy God-fearing patriarch (who sees himself This is a SF post-apoc environmental catastrophe novel that was a Nebula Award nominee in 1965, which I read as a part of Earth Day Challenge in Hugo & Nebula Awards: Best Novels One of the early environmental catastrophe books out there. The calamity, giant alien plants, which grow fast and therefore strangle local competition, came from space, and not, as in many later works is caused by men. The plant destroy agriculture and cause global famine. A sturdy God-fearing patriarch (who sees himself as the chosen one) in rural US tries to adapt, by draining plants of nutrients to use them as a fertilizer for corn. He has sons, the older is faithful but not too bright and the second is the quintessential prodigal son, who returns after the rest of civilization dissolves. Not only plants are the problem: there are some mechanical objects, which burn people and other creatures when they encounter them. As the story progresses, the group loses more and more of their members and equipment. The final exposition gives some answers as to what has happened. This is a novel with a punch line, which I guess is more suited for shorter works. Also its gloomy approach and attempt at high tragedy makes it a kind of literature I don’t usually read even if in this case it was justified.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Carlex

    Three and a half stars Well, that was like a shot in the head. But good stuff anyway.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Manny

    There's a scene in this book which, I must reluctantly admit, is quite the definitive example of... I'm sorry. I'm just about to make dinner, and I don't want to ruin my appetite. But trust me, it's definitive alright.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kartik

    The Genocides is disturbing tale of an Earth where a species of giant, parasitic plants have all but stolen all of the world's land and water for their own purposes. In the wake of all this chaos, mankind progressively loses its humanity. A certain colony of survivors in the American Midwest resists, but things begin to change. What follows is an unsettling story of how the colony tries to survive. The Plants' destruction of civilization is more a force of nature than something born from malice, The Genocides is disturbing tale of an Earth where a species of giant, parasitic plants have all but stolen all of the world's land and water for their own purposes. In the wake of all this chaos, mankind progressively loses its humanity. A certain colony of survivors in the American Midwest resists, but things begin to change. What follows is an unsettling story of how the colony tries to survive. The Plants' destruction of civilization is more a force of nature than something born from malice, which only adds to the terror. Somehow, the book feels incomplete. The plot becomes a little unconvincing as the book progresses, and many questions are left unanswered. Some elements, especially new developments relating to the characters introduced towards the end, seem unnecessary. The characters however, manage to feel authentic. While the premise is interesting and the characters' struggle against this unyielding, impersonal terror fill you with dread, the book doesn't manage to satisfy you. And it confuses you a little along the wat too.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Denis

    This was T.M. Dish's first novel, and the first I have read of his thus far. I have to say it is a strange one indeed and rather bleak. An expanded Twilight Zone type story: The earth is used by some alien species as a location for a grow-op of some sort. The inhabitants - human and animal are but pests that are dealt with when necessary. Pretty far fetched even for a 60's scifi novel - and really, there is not much to it. Interesting enough to see where it went.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Terry Tsurugi

    I rounded up my rating from 2.5 stars. I think this is Disch's first novel, and the writing, characterizations, and ideas are pretty amateurish compared to his later work. During the first 30 or 40 pages, I was frustrated at the crude and unpleasant characters, so I read the rest of this short book very quickly, almost skimming, and enjoyed it more that way. The plot becomes more engaging once the action moves underground and Disch's pessimistic and perverse view of humanity comes on stronger. A I rounded up my rating from 2.5 stars. I think this is Disch's first novel, and the writing, characterizations, and ideas are pretty amateurish compared to his later work. During the first 30 or 40 pages, I was frustrated at the crude and unpleasant characters, so I read the rest of this short book very quickly, almost skimming, and enjoyed it more that way. The plot becomes more engaging once the action moves underground and Disch's pessimistic and perverse view of humanity comes on stronger. Also, the ideas in this book had more significance for me since I just watched Food Inc. Still, I would only recommend it for Disch completists and the rest should read 334, Camp Concentration, or On Wings of Song instead.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Logan

    Darkly funny. In Disch's future mankind is simultaneously reduced to worms, while remaining the self-mythologizing hacks we are today. He challenges the significance of the myths and presents nature as the true prodigal.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Chris Walker

    An OK book with a bad title. I can understand why it's called "The Genocides" but questions of sensitivity aside (it was published only 20 years after the Holocaust) it just doesn't seem to fit. For a first novel, this one was pretty good. I had low expectations for it, and I was pleasantly surprised by Thomas Disch's authorial voice. There is almost something reminiscent of "The Grapes of Wrath" in the books opening chapters, both because it deals with a region that was been ecologically devast An OK book with a bad title. I can understand why it's called "The Genocides" but questions of sensitivity aside (it was published only 20 years after the Holocaust) it just doesn't seem to fit. For a first novel, this one was pretty good. I had low expectations for it, and I was pleasantly surprised by Thomas Disch's authorial voice. There is almost something reminiscent of "The Grapes of Wrath" in the books opening chapters, both because it deals with a region that was been ecologically devastated, although in this case by giant space plants that have crowded out all of the indigenous, and because of the focus on the deep seated dissatisfaction felt by some of the main characters, particularly Buddy. The psychological depth of many of the characters was much appreciated. It's also obvious that Disch put a lot of thought into the nature of the botanical threat. The Plants are a menacing crisis even though they lack sentience. They're in some ways more frightening than the "incinerators," ominous flying spheres that hunt down and burn every animal and man they can find. This is a pretty slim book. The pocketbook version I read is only just over 130 pages long. While this made it a quick and entertaining read, I do feel like the book could have used another 70 pages or so to flesh out some of its ideas and character relationships. For, while the plot stays pretty solid and interesting for the majority of the novel, the same can't be said for the character dynamics. Buddy, who is very interesting from the outset, is largely dropped from the narrative in favor of of a power struggle between his father Anderson and Jeremiah Orville, a newcomer to the community who harbors a resentment against Anderson. Anderson's other son, Neil, is an entertaining buffoon at first, but as he becomes a more important character to the plot his flatness detracts from some of the climactic moments. How do the women characters fare? Not great, to be honest. Though they're rendered with more complexity than a lot of science fiction of the era, they are still largely sidelined in the narrative. Greta, Alice, and Lady, who initially show promise as willing to challenge Anderson's patriarchal conception of society, end up not being very consequential. (view spoiler)[Greta's end is especially frustrating. She openly defies Anderson and leaves his community only to show up at the end having gained something like 300 pounds in a matter of a month. The victim of her own gluttony and the prevalent food source that the Plants produce. She is then rapidly killed off. It's even more bizarre and distasteful than it seems. (hide spoiler)] Most troubling is the treatment of Anderson's youngest daughter Blossom, who is sought after by multiple men despite being 13 years old. To be fair, Disch has a number of characters point out how creepy that is, but seems to undercut this later. The story goes off the rails in the last thirty pages or so, though it recovers enough to accomplish a decent ending. Despite its flaws, I remain impressed with the quality of the writing, and I intend to pick up some of Disch's later work, in hopes that its more polished than this ended up being.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Charlotte

    I whizzed through this book in a day and a half (mostly while on the bus). It was very fairly short and to the point. A small group of people are trying to survive in northern USA in the 1970's after an alien species of plants have invaded Earth. Nearly everything has died from lack of water and sunlight as the plants soak up all the natural resources and cover the planet like innumerable giant beanstalks. Seven years have passed since the plants arrived and the human race has dwindled to handfu I whizzed through this book in a day and a half (mostly while on the bus). It was very fairly short and to the point. A small group of people are trying to survive in northern USA in the 1970's after an alien species of plants have invaded Earth. Nearly everything has died from lack of water and sunlight as the plants soak up all the natural resources and cover the planet like innumerable giant beanstalks. Seven years have passed since the plants arrived and the human race has dwindled to handfuls of survivors who fight for food and shelter, killing anyone who dares threaten their provisions or simply cross their path. An awful and disgusting moment occurs early in the story when out of duty (not necessity) half a dozen people are killed and eaten at a Thanksgiving feast. Grim and disturbing certainly sum up much of this author’s style. That said, I actually enjoyed the novel greatly. As mentioned before, it was a quick read and could easily be adapted into a feature film. The characters are well developed and endearing even in their brevity while the landscape is enjoyably fictional with close ties to the real world and real problems of food shortage and human “civilization”. There is great attention to the structure of the invasive plants, particularly when our main characters investigate the interior of the plants. Think: Blind mice in an underground maze and you’ll have an idea of what they encounter, but don’t let me ruin the surprise! Read this one for yourself.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    Alien plants take root on earth, sap the planet of its vital nutrients, decimate modern civilization and the human race. The patriarch of the last band of humans is a religious nut job who whips his grown children. The roots of the plant turn out to be full of spun sugar which is edible in moderation. Seriously. The femme fatale of the group eats too much and turns into jabba the hut. SPOILERS She ends up being too gelatinous to leave their underground root system sanctuary. This book was like s Alien plants take root on earth, sap the planet of its vital nutrients, decimate modern civilization and the human race. The patriarch of the last band of humans is a religious nut job who whips his grown children. The roots of the plant turn out to be full of spun sugar which is edible in moderation. Seriously. The femme fatale of the group eats too much and turns into jabba the hut. SPOILERS She ends up being too gelatinous to leave their underground root system sanctuary. This book was like someone took a SyFy made for TV movie but wrote the screenplay in 1960 and had Heironymus Bosch do the storyboards. Somehow I mean that in a begrudgingly good way.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    a fantastic concept, but not nearly as fleshed out as i had hoped... in some ways, Disch seems to get a pass because he was a gay man, though i don't think that should factor in when rating his books... not knowing the author, how would one rate this? well, in that case... see, it hardly holds up to other similar works, or to other Disch novels... not enough science, not enough background, not nearly enough as to why or how or what the hell it means... end of humanity and all, but quite dull... a fantastic concept, but not nearly as fleshed out as i had hoped... in some ways, Disch seems to get a pass because he was a gay man, though i don't think that should factor in when rating his books... not knowing the author, how would one rate this? well, in that case... see, it hardly holds up to other similar works, or to other Disch novels... not enough science, not enough background, not nearly enough as to why or how or what the hell it means... end of humanity and all, but quite dull... no fire or brimstone or weirdness or awfulness or much of anything unseemly... a bit of fun with Anderson and Orville, but not much... hardly merits the glowing reviews...

  16. 4 out of 5

    Thom

    Dystopia by disaster, that is, not caused by man. The characters described are a pretty dislikable bunch, and commit most of the seven deadly sins within this fairly short story. This novel was nominated for the first year of Nebula awards (1965), losing out to Frank Herbert's Dune. I can't compare those two works (yet), but found this an okay book - Thomas M. Disch's first. Like some of his later horror novels, it is set around Minneapolis (with one of the main characters returning from there sh Dystopia by disaster, that is, not caused by man. The characters described are a pretty dislikable bunch, and commit most of the seven deadly sins within this fairly short story. This novel was nominated for the first year of Nebula awards (1965), losing out to Frank Herbert's Dune. I can't compare those two works (yet), but found this an okay book - Thomas M. Disch's first. Like some of his later horror novels, it is set around Minneapolis (with one of the main characters returning from there shortly before the story begins) - and was a good read for my business trip to that fair city.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Peter

    This is an alien invasion story of a different stripe, yet the main focus here is on the people that experience it and their various struggles to survive in the aftermath. If you need a big payoff and big alien battles and hoo-ah cheers, I'd look elsewhere. This is possibly the most likely and believable (relatively speaking) of alien invasion scenarios that I have read. It's a journey down into the heart of darkness, and one that is immensely engrossing and enjoyable.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Tanja Berg

    Rating 3.4* out of 5. A short tale about the last few humans on earth. Society has been disintegrated through the arrival of the Plants. They grow quickly and up to 600 feet, blocking out the sun and killing all earthly flora. The question is not how long the last few farmers can survive the invasion, but how quickly they will perish. It's as much horror as science fiction. Well told and entertaining enough.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    The Genocides could just as well be a slipstream novel instead of SF; the science fiction elements are a means to an end and not crucial to the story. This is the way the world ends - no bang, no whimper, just the disintegration of a rotten apple. It's probably an allegory, but I'll leave that interpretation to the next reader.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

    I'm a sucker for stories about the extinction of the human species. But this one in an unabashed favorite. Disch writes vividily, with a knack for sharp plotting; he's one of the great genre writers who never got his due.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Wombok

    Really engrossing. It wasnt at all what I thought it would be from the title. The writing was was simple yet engaging and the characters were as interesting as the plot, and with a plot this interesting thats quite a feat. I really enjoyed this book.

  22. 4 out of 5

    David Nichols

    An end-of-the world story, told from the perspective of human refugees reduced to the level of burrowing pests on a massive, planet-wide alien farm. Similar in some ways to Brian Aldiss's LONG AFTERNOON OF EARTH, but much bleaker in its outcome.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Martin Bromirski

    EXCELLENT

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ian

    What's better than humans trying to survive an invasion of plants? Again, 3.5.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Bobby

    Whoa, what a little gem. Didn't wimp out on a happy ending.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Leif

    Hard to enjoy story about a small community living in a post-invasion earth. Kinda yucky, which I am coming to expect from this author.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Melumebelle

    I remember I tried to read this in college... Nope. Just didn't do it for me. Bland writing and truly unlikable characters all around. Didn't finish.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Max

    Very good book. I liked the story, had enough things I didn't predict. Overall concept of plants/harvest/living in plants neat.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Briar Ripley

    Remarkably accomplished for a first novel, especially written by a guy who was (I think) younger than I am now! I see why Disch is considered one of the great New Wave SFF authors. The apocalypse depicted in THE GENOCIDES still seems original, chilling, and sort of darkly hilarious fifty years later. Disch was also a poet, and that definitely comes through in his prose style: it's spare, not flowery, but he excels at creating a vivid image or emotional response with a brief, pointed, perfect lin Remarkably accomplished for a first novel, especially written by a guy who was (I think) younger than I am now! I see why Disch is considered one of the great New Wave SFF authors. The apocalypse depicted in THE GENOCIDES still seems original, chilling, and sort of darkly hilarious fifty years later. Disch was also a poet, and that definitely comes through in his prose style: it's spare, not flowery, but he excels at creating a vivid image or emotional response with a brief, pointed, perfect line of description. This style also works well with the pitch-black humor and satire present throughout the story: I laughed out loud a few times. (One character is unceremoniously dispatched like so: "Abruptly, Joel was metamorphosed into a pillar of fire.") Disch's use of allegory and satire feels very mature here, and some of his psychological insights are extremely accurate, but if he shows his youth anywhere in this novel, I think it's in a general, relentless cynicism about human nature and a too-frequent mean-spiritedness towards his characters. I don't mean because he shows people doing horrible things, or because he puts his characters through trials that make Job seem like a guy with first-world problems; it's mostly about tone (there can be a thin line between dark comedy and taking sadistic glee in tormenting one's characters), and the way some of his attempts at depicting characters' internal lives come off as flat and simplistic, the assumption a person with a lot of disdain and scorn for them would make about their thoughts and motives rather than a true exercise in empathy. Disch is also-- perhaps because he was gay-- a *lot* better at writing women than many male science fiction authors of his era. However, that's a low bar to clear, and there are still some parts of THE GENOCIDES that will make you uncomfortable and/or exasperated if you are or have ever lived as a woman. A character's breasts apparently become more erect when she's aroused (not her nipples, mind, her *breasts*), a sixty-something woman is able to wander the ruins of Duluth freely because she's "too old" to have to worry about rape (if only!), and with the exception of the aforementioned older woman, the female characters are all either passive/innocent or brassy seductresses, and obsessed with the men they love in either case. (That said, they're also presented as generally better and more likable than the male characters, who are more prone to violence, power struggles, Shakespearean revenge plots, and lusting after thirteen year old girls; neither binary sex comes off *admirably* in this book, by design.) Also, nobody menstruates. Nobody ever seems to piss or shit, either, apart from one scene where a character who has grown too fat to move is described lying in their own filth, to add to the body horror of the whole situation. (Speaking of mean-spirited...this character's sci-fi addiction-induced weight gain is described and handled in a way that's...well, it's not great. Fat people aren't inhuman balls of flesh, they're just people who are fat. Also, Disch can't quite seem to decide whether this character's situation is a genuine tragedy, or a joke.) Normally, the lack of explicit bodily waste products wouldn't bother me; I don't need or expect an author to notify me every time somebody goes to the bathroom. However, this is a novel of harsh post-apocalyptic survival. Many of the details of that survival are described down to minutiae I wouldn't even have wondered about on my own (and I love this). Others are alluded to in ways that let the reader's imagination fill in the horrifying gaps (and I also love this-- the sausage machine!!) And the characters repeatedly find themselves in situations where they're cloistered with dozens of others in enclosed environments, situations that really beg the question "what DOES happen when somebody gets their period or needs to evacuate their bowels?" There's no plumbing; there's no toilet paper; there aren't tampons; for a portion of the story, there doesn't even seem to be any way the characters could really set aside a cavern or a hole in the ground for taking care of bodily functions. Does everything just reek all the time? (Well, probably, yes.) Are people getting sick in part because they can't NOT shit where they eat? Was that implication intentional? How are people still losing track of the months when, presumably, at least a few of them are still getting periods? I have questions! Questions which, I recognize, may well remain unanswered not so much because Disch didn't think about these things as because 1965 was a more prudish time. Still, this is a book where one character spends two days fucking a severed head, and where there is that lying-in-a-pool-of-own-filth (and sometimes eating it!) scene I described earlier. I think he could have gotten away with addressing this stuff as long as he didn't go into too much detail! Anyway, despite this surprisingly long-winded critique, I enjoyed this novel a lot and finished it in about two sittings over the course of a single day. (It's not a long book at all, but I'm also not a fast reader at all, so that's still very notable.)

  30. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    I didn't read much of Thomas Disch's work when I was younger because it was so bleak, but I really missed a good science fiction author. In The Genocides, humanity is oppressed by a faceless alien invasion of enormous plants; we see it through the eyes of a small group of survivors in Minnesota. The plants grow everywhere and suck up all the moisture, out-competing the native flora and shrugging off insect pests and human attacks alike. After most of humanity has starved, the remnants are incine I didn't read much of Thomas Disch's work when I was younger because it was so bleak, but I really missed a good science fiction author. In The Genocides, humanity is oppressed by a faceless alien invasion of enormous plants; we see it through the eyes of a small group of survivors in Minnesota. The plants grow everywhere and suck up all the moisture, out-competing the native flora and shrugging off insect pests and human attacks alike. After most of humanity has starved, the remnants are incinerated by mysterious machines, along with all of our species' works. In other words, we are given a bug's-eye view of modern agriculture.

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