“The Disappearance”

When one of the two main characters is a philosopher, and the reader is an engineer, this may result in challenges as the book progresses.  First published in the early 1950’s, Philip Wylie’s “The Disappearance” tells the story of half the world disappearing in an instant.  In alternating chapters, one version of the world carries on without men, and another carries on without women.

I thought this was a very interesting concept.  It was fascinating to read how the two world handled the event.  For example, the men’s world has nuclear was as a reaction, while the women are unable to extinguish fires due to a lack of firemen.  A lot of my interest in how the two worlds reacted would seem to be a function of when the book was written.  The men and women are very much in traditional gender roles.  In the women’s world, there’s a shortage of doctors and technicians to operate heavy industry; the wives of congressmen meet to form a sort of government, but descend into chaos attempting to decide what a proper uniform for themselves would be.

As the book progressed, it moved towards explaining why the event, the disappearance took place.  This is when the book drifted a bit for me.  I wanted action, to learn how the two worlds survived.  Not philosophical analysis of what had happened. 

All in all, it’s a fascinating scenario, even with a bit more philosophizing that I would prefer.

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