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The Green Millennium, by Fritz Leiber Book Review | SFReader.com
The Green Millennium, by Fritz Leiber Genre: Science Fiction Publisher: Ultramarine Published: 1980 Review Posted: 2/10/2007 Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: Not Rated
The Green Millennium, by Fritz Leiber
Book Review by S C Bryce
Have you read this book?
Phil Gish has been laid off, once again replaced by a robot. But Gish's lonely, down-trodden world is turned upside-down when he wakes to find a green cat sitting in his window sill. Even more amazing is the strange bliss that overcomes him. When the green cat runs off, Gish runs after it. The next 24 hours are the frantic story of The Green Millennium.
Gish lives in a future America taken over by the twin forces of Fun Incorporated, a mob corporation that's taken the idea of Las Vegas to new highs and lows, and by the Federal Bureau of Loyalty, a combination of J. Edgar Hoover's FBI and Joseph McCarthy's Senate subcommittees. America's figurehead leader is just as unpromising: "a drunken, hymn-singing farmer, President Robert T. Barnes." The Cold War continues as Americans live in a society that prudishly condemns "subversive" behavior, even as the streets are filled with lit signs advertising bizarre delights. In the years since The Green Millennium was written, its clever world has become clichéd.
It is a shame that neither the characters nor the plot are as strong or believable as the world. Chasing the green cat and Phil Gish are an amazing assortment of characters from the real world and mythology: an Amazonian wrestler, mob bosses and petty crooks, publicity-hungry scientists and one of borderline senility, a half-dressed Goth-chick with spunk that masks insecurity, over-sexed satyrs, a New-Age witch poking pins in voodoo dolls-the list continues. Most of the characters never see their full potential; instead, they are locked into two-dimensional stereotypes. The huge number of characters combined with their superficial treatment and rapid appearances in and out of the plot is a recipe for confusion.
Moreover, the characters' behavior does not always make sense. Often no explanation is given for their choices-other than presumed eccentricity. Impulsive behavior seems to be driven by the need to keep up a frenetic pace throughout. There is little suggestion as to why all these people care about either the green cat or Phil Gish until the book is almost over. Further, the exhausting read was ultimately unsatisfying because there was little resolution to the plot-the explanation of the green cat's importance is too little too late. In fact, the entire story seems to be a prequel to the more important (and interesting) story: what would happen if an alien race suddenly replaced aggression, hatred, apathy, and all other negative emotions with pure contentment? Leiber suggests an optimistic outcome, but given his characters' slavish dedication to chasing this contentment-reminiscent of drug addition-the prospect was more disturbing than uplifting. There is plenty of fodder for a good tale here. It is too bad Leiber did not explore it.
If it was Leiber's intention to make the reader feel as bewildered and overwhelmed as the Phil Gish, then it worked. Further, Leiber's own eccentricities pepper, and hurt, the story. Leiber loved cats, for example, but a green cat was probably not the best vehicle for this story. Another example is Leiber's penchant for kinky sex, which manifests itself here in voyeurism, bare-breasted fashions, stocking fetishes, and more. In short, The Green Millennium is not Leiber's best work.
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