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Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Books

Natural State

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Natural State

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Author: Damon Knight
Publisher: Pan Macmillan, 1954

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Book Type: Novel
Genre: Science-Fiction
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Published in the January 1954 issue, this novella was Knight's longest contribution to the magazine. Dealing with a familiar extrapolation - a future population divided between a mutually antagonistic farm society of exiles and a technologically advanced city - the novella incorporates sophisticated biology (living weapons) and complicated politics (the reality of the ideological differences is linked not only to the misapplication of biology but to the fundamental struggle against totalitarianism.

NATURAL STATE was, in the nature of science fiction synergy, influential upon the works of A.J. Budrys, Poul Anderson and other writers who dealt with political relations as inextricably linked to biological and economic motives, and like much of Damon Knight's work, it is suffused with a kind of cynicism, even despair, which overshadow or lurk behind the progression and apparent solution. Like much of Knight's canon, it is a cynical and despairing work which uses the conventional apparatus of science fiction to work through a series of conclusions opposed to the more traditional view. Knight sees no salvation in the indiscriminate application of technology. The ravaged landscape of this story does not propose a future in which either side could expect to live comfortably. Knight's misanthropy is evident throughout; it is a misanthropy emergent from his conviction that in the face of technology great damage will be done, no matter who "wins" the struggle.


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