Two books I read this week for the first time-
‘Make Room! Make Room!’ by Harry Harrison & ‘The Edict’ by Max Ehrlich
I had previously seen ‘Soylent Green’ a couple of times many years ago (still have a VHS copy stored somewhere) but never read the novel by Harry Harrison it is (very loosely) based on. The cover artwork was blatantly meant to target anyone interested in the movie just to sell copies of the book and I was surprised to learn how much the Charlton Heston movie had deviated from the plot in Harrison’s novel. I didn’t get too far into ‘Make Room!’ when I realized I was really enjoying what I was reading and even more so since it was nothing like the movie. Whether you know anything about ‘Soylent Green’ or not I highly recommend you locate a copy and read it without trying to find similarities between the book and the movie.
‘The Edict’ by Max Ehrlich was another matter – or so I thought initially when I first sat down to read it this morning. Coming the day after finishing ‘Make Room!’ I wasn’t impressed with Erhlich’s writing compared to Harrison’s but soon got past that issue by the time I finished several several dozen pages and settled into a fast pace finishing it early this evening. (217 pages) “The Edict’ lacked the grit and earthy feel of ‘Make Room!’ but I can understand the differences given Erhlich’s background as a Movie and TV writer. ‘Z.P.G.’ (Zero Population Growth) is the movie version of ‘The Edict’ but in this case the movie screenplay came before the book. All I’ve seen of ‘Z.P.G.’ is a few short clips online including the original trailer. I think this is a good case for not having seen the movie first otherwise I might never have tried the novel although apparently I enjoyed it enough to want to find out what happens next until I finished reading it.
Overpopulation is the main theme of both books. Harrison targets and condemns decisions made by people and institutions that might doom us to a dystopian future. Max Ehrlich seems to champion and promote movements and ideas that might one day rescue us from the problems he believes we are headed toward.
Trivia – two other “Ehrlichs” (Paul R. Ehrlich and wife Anne Ehrlich) were the authors (Anne uncredited) who first helped describe the problems of overpopulation thru the best selling book ‘The Population Bomb’. Paul wrote the introduction to ‘Make Room! Make room!’.
After reading ‘Make Room! Make Room!’ I’m wondering if I should rename my blog.