- Hardcover: 224 pages
- Publisher: Red Jacket Pr (June 30 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0974889504
- ISBN-13: 978-0974889504
- Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 3.8 x 22.2 cm
- Shipping Weight: 590 g
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
Children of the Atom Hardcover – Jun 30 2004
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If you're a fan of any incarnation of the X-Men franchise, you need to read this book. -- Mark Finn, Revolution Science Fiction
Science fiction is filled with one-hit wonders, and this novel by Wilmar Shiras counts as one of the finest and most beloved in that category. -- Paul Di Filippo, Science Fiction Weekly, September 26, 2005
These limited edition Red Jacket [Press] volumes are magnificent editions, sure to be hot with fans of vintage science fiction. -- John C. Snider, Scifidimensions.com
From the Publisher
This limited edition facsimile reprint volume is a complete reproduction of the original first edition (published by Gnome Press in 1953) and includes a full-color dust jacket, protective slipcase, and biographical information about the author.See all Product description
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Learning that the boy's intelligence is the result of his parents' exposure to radiation in an atomic disaster, he sets out to find others of his kind. He does, and sets them up in a "special school", where they can receive an education to match their IQs.
It has to be said that the later chapters are not really up to "In hiding", and in particular that the ending is a bit weak. Would it really help much for the Children to return to ordinary schools where they would surely stick out like sore thumbs now that their secret is out? When I first read the book at 13, this infuriated me, rather as three years earlier when the author of "Earth Abides" killed off Joey.
Looking at it from (I hope) a more mature perspective, I have more sympathy for Shiras, who I suspect had got into a bit of a bind. In the sf of the period there were two basic tropes for the "mutant superman" situation, and I suspect that she wasn't really happy with either. Basically, either the supermen are accepted as the natural rulers, and allowed to run the world either openly or from behind the scenes, or else the normal people turn on them and they are wiped out - and by the time of writing both had become stock clichés.
At the end of "In Hiding", Shiras seems to be leaning to he first option. Dr Welles muses that he will always be Tim's friend "as a loyal dog, loved by a good master, is never cast out". However, the problems of this are well brought out in a later chapter, where it becomes clear that some of the Children are better-adjusted than others. Had his first contact among them been someone like Fred, rather than Timothy, one suspects that Welles himself would have been less accepting.
Nor, in any case, would all normals be as accepting as Welles. When the secret comes out in the last chapter, as massacre is narrowly averted. Here the novel very much reflects the slightly paranoid time when it was written.. Today, of course, the revelation would probably be greeted with a yawn, and the Children shrugged off as just another lot of gifteds . But sixty years ago, fear of anyone different was pretty much taken as read.
Still, these are only nitpicks and overall it's a pretty good read. You just need to keep in mind that it is of its time.
And you need a helping hand
And nothing, whoa nothing is going right.
Close your eyes and think of me
And soon I will be there
-- Carole King
This is a great book with a surprisingly wonderful story. However by the time you figure out where the author Wilmar H. Shirras is leading us the book ends and possible the real story just begins.
A physiatrist stumbles on a secret that children born after a nuclear mishap have expanded intellects.
This of course can be a blessing or a curse depending on how it is handled. There is a much bigger theme of which this is just the core.
As with other readers this book needs to be revisited periodically.
If you like this story you should also like "Starship on Saddle Mountain" It is a different kind of story but also has the general intent of this story.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
The novel continues with their story as well as their search for more children like him. A private school is established where the students can work and create. Entertaining complications follow - personality differences, as well as addressing psychological, sociological, ethical, and religious questions - all done in what now feels like a refreshingly hopeful 1950's - early 60's vantage point.