Thursday, February 19, 2009

Review: Julian: A Christmas Story

Julian: A Christmas Story by Robert Charles Wilson gives us a glimpse into a world that finds itself struggling to determine what course to take after an apocalypse of sorts. The Church of the Dominion is in control of the thoughts and minds of the people and looks to build a morally upright Christian Society so that the evils of the Secular Age don’t revisit the present.

The Church of the Dominion’s presence can be felt in every facet of life. While the government is not a complete theocracy the lines of Church and State have become so blurred that its impossible to tell where one ends and the other begins. A truly horrifying scenario as the Church wields ultimate power and has rewritten history in such a way that technological progress has been completely stalled. For instance according to the Church’s history man has never set foot on the moon. (Moon Landing Hoax aficionado’s rejoice.)

The United States has returned to a simpler time much like the 19th and 20th century mixed with a touch of Feudalism. Railroads and steam engines along with horses are used as the major means of transportation. Electricity is used only sparingly and then only in major metropolitan areas such as the U.S. Capital, New York City. It’s in these tenuous times that the story of Julian Comstock begins.

Julian Comstock the nephew to the President of these 60 United States is an intriguing character. He has a great number of personality quirks that lead many people to question his morale scruples, some even go so far as to say he’s a sodomite. It is these same personality quirks that will inevitably make him a great man one day.

Julian’s story unfolds from the perspective of the stories narrator Adam Hazzard one of Julian’s only friends. The narrative does a good job of detailing the minute as well as events on a grand scale. Hindsight is twenty-twenty as they say and Adam is writing a history of Julian Comstock as a young man, alluding to various events that happen after the story unfolds. It’s these allusions that make this novella feel like a single chapter in a larger autobiographical work on the life of Julian Comstock.

That being said the story is satisfying the way it stands. It gives us a nice beginning, middle and end. There’s closure at the end of the story while leaving it open for perhaps an expanded work of some kind.

Wilson crafts the story in such a way as we empathize with Julian as both a boy struggling with the responsibilities of his station in life and as a reluctant history changing force. It’s this juxtaposition that gives the novel a certain shimmer and it’s yet another jewel from PS Publishing.


Post Script: After doing a little research it turns out that Robert Charles Wilson has expanded this novella into a full-length novel.

Julian Comstock: A Story of 22nd-Century America will be released on June 9, 2009.


  1. Man, this looks interesting. Post-Apocalyptic fiction is my favorite sub-genre out there. I've never heard of this book or this author. Thanks for brining it to my attention.

  2. Glad I can repay the favor every so often. It's a really good read, I'm always on the hunt for good Post-Apocalyptic fiction so if you hear of any shoot me a line.

    I just picked up Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse which features Stephen King, George R.R. Martin, Octavia E. Butler to name a few. So I'm looking forward to that.

    If you're looking for some more good Post-Apocalyptic fiction a couple of my favorites are:

    Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler and then the follow up Parable of the Talents are both excellent.

    Also China Mieville has a story called "The Tain" which can be found in the Looking For Jake collection or as a stand alone novella from PS Publishing. (Go with the Looking For Jake Collection as the novella goes for $300+.)

    The Tain is a post apocalyptic/vampire story. It is the best Vampire story I have EVER read. Defiantly worth tracking down.