Science fiction and fantasy                                            

A Destiny of Fools

by Ejner Fulsang


Fertility rates in the western world have fallen, and nobody is really sure why. This first part isn't really science fiction, because it's true. A Destiny of Fools takes place in 2085, when this trend has continued unabated for years. The world is in the grip of the Great Sterility Pandemic and humanity is on the brink of extinction.

Civilization is literally crumbling, as there are few young people left to maintain the infrastructure of mankind's greatest cities. Buildings and bridges are close to collapse, whilst the subways flood and pavements cave in. It's as though the foundations are rotting because the foundations of the human race, its children, are disappearing.

In the world created by Ejner Fulsang children are so rare they have to be kept under guard. There is even a Department of Reproduction to ensure that women are inseminated every month, and such a thing as fertility card fraud to penalise those who do not at least try to become pregnant.

Sophie Zapata is a well-known reporter for The Times. At 26 she's something of a rarity, since there are so few people of her age, and it looks as though her generation will be the last. She's covering the story of John Wesley Nydegger, a serial killer due for execution. But when she goes to watch his electrocution, some things seems amiss. Convinced that his death has been faked, she decides to investigate further.

Sophie meets up with Percival Hendricks, a man who seems to know the full story behind Nydegger's death and his connection with the sterility plague. But before Hendricks can spill the beans, agents from the Department of Reproduction start shooting at them. Before long Sophie is on the run as a wanted woman, fleeing for her life.

A Destiny of Fools proceeds at a cracking pace. There's a sense of the tension of a society on the threshold of breakdown, where depopulation means that civilization is giving way to the wild once more. Suburbs are becoming frontier territory with no-one to police them. The body-count is high, almost as though the imminent end of the human race has not caused life to be held any dearer than it was before.

This novel is peppered with Biblical references. Nydegger believed himself to be the new Adam, whereas Sophie has recurring dreams of Hell in the form of Dante's Inferno. These references aren't about preaching religion and scripture, so much as highlighting themes that always have resonance: of beginnings, and of our hereditary nature, be it good or evil.

The concept behind A Destiny of Fools is fresh and original, particularly when overpopulation and overcrowding are things we take so much for granted today. The science behind this story is well researched, to the extent that it doesn't require much suspension of disbelief. This is realistic science fiction rather than science fantasy. But more importantly, this is a well-written and entertaining novel with an exciting plot that will have you hooked until the last page.

20th September 2006

Book Details

Year: 2006

Categories: Books

  Science fiction
  Female Protagonist  

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5 star rating

Review © Ros Jackson


Craig Daniels     22nd September, 2006 01:25am

For being so "fresh and original", the concept of A Destiny of Fools sure sounds a hell of a lot like Greybeard (1964) by Brian Aldiss and The Children of Men (1992) by P.D. James, both of which used the concept of populations in the future declining due to sterility.

Ejner Fulsang     4th October, 2006 23:24pm

Thanks for you candid comment, Craig. I have read PD James' Children of Men and reviewed same on I called her down, not for her writing which was stellar, but for her failure to offer a plausible cause of the sterility of her world--I'm fussy about things like that. I call your attention to for an article I wrote explaining the science behind Destiny. Moreover, Destiny is only Book I of The Fallow Years trilogy. I'm working on Book II, Enoch, as we speak. Look for it towards end of 2007. Books II and III will cover aspects of this particular sterility that are referenced in my article.
Meanwhile, I've not read Brian Aldiss' Greybeard, but the reviews look good so I ordered it on Amazon--thanks for the tip!
--Ejner Fulsang
author of "A Knavish Piece of Work"