Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Rediscover Lloyd Biggle, Jr.

Excellent read available
by Lloyd Biggle, Jr.
Current Publisher Borgo Press (December 1, 1999)
pages 192

From the inside flap of my book published in 1974:
    To the paradise world of Langri comes H. Harlow Wembling, a ruthless billionaire promoter. He looks at the sparkling seas, magnificent beaches, and fascinating plant and animal life and envisions a world-wide vacation resort that will be the financial coup of his life.  Langri's human population is no match for his deft manipulations and the charter he obtains makes Langri virtually the private property of Wembling and Company.
     Construction machines convert vast stretches of the beautiful sea into smears of wasteland and so damage the ecology that the natives face imminent starvation.  They have only one weapon with which to oppose Wembling.

About this book:
     Opening sentence - "It came to Obrien quite suddenly that he was dying." And so begins The Plan, Obrien's plan to protect the beautiful tropical planet he crashed landed on some decades before the opening paragraph. Fast forward to "present day" when the rest of the galaxy has discovered this paradise. They try to build schools, medical facilities, and import 'businesses' to help the natives.  But all the outsiders do to help actually hurt the natives of Langri.
    Meanwhile, the natives do all they can to slow down and stop the construction or destruction of their world. It is amazing why they are doing this.  Most of us would say that such a thing does no good but most of us don't have The Plan.
    Through the Wembling and Company various manipulations and legal wrangling and the Federation's uncaring justice system only a handful of people really care. Taliitha and Hort are two of those people but even they are unsure how to protect the natives.

My take:
   This story is as relevant today as it was when it was first published. In fact it might even be more relevant considering the punch line. Most old science fiction has problems when read today because technology has changed so much. This book does not suffer from that mainly because it doesn't depend on technology even though it is what might be called true science fiction.
   I first read this in the short story format. I loved it, inhaled it, and never forgot it. I then bought the longer work, the novella, although today it might be consider novel length at 192 pages. The full length story lost something for me but it might have been simply that I knew what was coming. You, my dear reader, can check this out yourself, since the short story can be found online for free.  I would suggest that you read the full length story first. There is just so much more detail. 
   I highly recommend this book or the short story to all ages but especially to anyone who can appreciate the political and social dynamics of the story since The Plan hinges on an understanding of how our political system works.

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