Book Review: The Watch Below, James White (1966)

(Uncredited cover for 1966 Ballantine edition)

4/5 (Good)

James White, famous for his Sector General series, spins a disturbing tale of two isolated and decaying societies — one alien, one human.  Without doubt the work demands a certain suspension of disbelief.  The isolated human society half of the premise comes off as highly artificial/improbably/impossible (and, well, bluntly put, hokey).  I found the alien half of the story line a more “realistic” situation but less emotionally involving as the human half.  White has difficultly meshing the trans-generational nature of both story lines — and the inevitable intersection at the end is predictable, anti-climactic, and dents the great appeal of the central portion of the work.

Lest this dissuade you, White’s dark vision is a transfixing take on the generation ship (literally) — how would a society descended from five individuals evolve for a hundred years trapped Continue reading