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Friday, August 30, 2019

Review Time


The Book of the Unnamed Midwife
The long anticipated fall of mankind is the subject matter of this first book in the “Road to Nowhere” series. And like any tragedy waiting to happen, it takes people by surprise. Before the world realizes what they’re dealing with, it’s already too late and we’re facing a mass extinction event.
The thing that really makes an impact with this story is that no one knows why! And that’s a poignantly powerful statement to make . . . and a humbling one too, because let’s face it; the majority of humanity doesn’t give two hoots about what we’re doing to the planet or our environment. Not until it affects them personally, that is. And in the Unnamed Midwife, it does, with bells on!
All the scant survivors do know is that whatever the pandemic was, it hit suddenly; it hit hard; and very few were able to endure. Of those that did, men were in the majority, for the plague proved especially virulent among pregnant women and newborns. In the aftermath, pregnancy becomes a death sentence. A dilemma for any female old enough to bear children in a society that spirals into chaos and hormone-riddled rape gangs.
Told from the perspective of a nurse – and one of the few females to survive – the Unnamed Midwife details her personal journey from successful career woman into an existence fuelled by isolation and fear of discovery. Part story – part extract from her journal, its a haunting, gripping indictment of inhuman nature at its bases level, and sums up what would most likely happen if such a thing ever happened.
Powerful stuff. And a compelling read.


Chernobyl
This mini-series is lesson in how to present fictional drama.
I’m sure we’ve all heard of Chernobyl. The date of April 26th 1986 will be etched on the minds of many as the day one of the worst man-made catastrophes ever unfurled.
The TV mini-series dramatizes the story of that event, and is based – for the most part – on the recollections of those living in Pripyat at the time by Belarusian Nobel Laureate, Svetlana Alexievich in her book, “Voices from Chernobyl”.
I’ve got to say, I was really impressed by this series. It’s a powerful, deeply disturbing account of how a tragic accident rapidly declined from bad to worse. And why? In a nutshell, the political ethos of the time in the Soviet Union was that the “party line” came first . . . or else!
That “line” allowed former shoe factory managers to dictate policy on issues they simply weren’t prepared or qualified to handle, leading to hundreds of needless deaths. That brutal reality was portrayed by a strong cast and superb directing where the brooding menace of the regime almost overshadowed the tragedy as it unfurled: The refusal to accept the facts; disbelief of those qualified to make accurate assessments; the negligence involved in sending countless heroes – the firemen, miners and soldiers tasked to contain the outbreak – to their deaths as they battled to contain a force they didn’t understand.
Gripping, compelling, and infuriating, to say the least. And a poignant reminder to us all as to how fragile we are, and how little we understand the powers we play with.



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