Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Million Cities by J. T. McIntosh

Back in late 2007 I read J. T. McIntosh's crummy book, The Million Cities, and then wrote a scathing review of it on Amazon.  In 2008 someone at the Onion, the joke newspaper, took notice of my review and quoted me in his own hostile review of McIntosh's novel.   

Below I paste my entire Amazon review of The Million Cities.  Behold, the pinnacle of my career as a literary critic:

"The Million Cities" is an elitist, anti-democratic and anti-humanist celebration of conspiracy and political violence. The book is full of murders, riots, sabotage and torture, most of it committed by the protagonists, and McIntosh even echoes Stalin's assessment of mass death, writing "...what did a few million people matter? The world had too many of them anyway." (p 141)

Something so bizarre might be interesting if well-written, but McIntosh's writing is quite poor; he employs an irritating omniscient narrator who describes to you the characters' personalities instead of having the characters demonstrate them.

The novel also contains weird mistakes; on the first page of text (p 7) we are told that smoking has become taboo, and, in fact, that no tobacco has been grown for centuries. But in two later scenes (one is at p 22) characters smoke, and no explanation whatever is given; presumably McIntosh and his editor just screwed up. We are also told that the Earth's population continues to rise, despite a rigidly enforced policy of allowing each couple to give birth to only one child; does that make any sense mathematically?

"The Million Cities" is so strange it is a wonder to me that it even got published. I read (endured?) the 1958 paperback by Pyramid Books with the Virgil Finlay cover.

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