Monday, March 8, 2010

Lloyd Biggle’s Monument

One of my favorite writers in SF is Lloyd Biggle. He’s not all that well known, but he wrote a fair number of books, and was part of the golden era of SF in my opinion. He was friends with perhaps my favorite author, Isaac Asimov. He wrote mysteries as well as SF. There is biographical info on him available on-line such as in Wikipedia, but I want to write about his books and short stories, not him. I never met him, but I know his books.
I will have more to say in later posts about his “Dark” books and others but perhaps my favorite book of his is “Monument”. It’s the story of a wandering interstellar prospector named Cern O’Brien who discovers the world of Langri. Langri is a paradise, with benign climate, beautiful beaches, and a indigenous civilization of natives.
Cern realizes the danger Langri is in. Sooner or later somebody else will discover Langri and exploit the potential wealth there for tourism, etc. As his legacy, he leaves the natives The Plan. A non-violent way to fight the exploiters despite the natives lack of resources and the power imbalance between them and the eventual arrival of an exploiter-Billionaire H. Harlow Wembling.
Its a great story, but I think it applies to the real world. We have all seen how advanced cultures have overwhelmed primitive cultures when encountered. Even if not on purpose, though often it was that way.
There still are cultures out there in the world who are being exploited, and as I have ranted about in my other blog-Critical Mass- I think even within advanced society the sheep are exploited by the wolves and sometimes the sheepdogs. This book shows ways to fight back that I find interesting, and potentially useful in the real world.
It is also one of the books that helped to form my opinion about the usefulness of SF to the real world, despite the scorn heaped on it by critics from the literary world.
So, its a great book that can be read simply to enjoy the story. But, as in much good SF, it has more to it. That moves Monument to another level as far as I am concerned.
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