The Children of Men begins in England in 2021, in a world where all human males have become sterile and no child will be born again. The final generation has turned twenty-five, and civilization is giving way to strange faiths and cruelties, mass suicides and despair. Theodore Faron, Oxford historian and cousin to the omnipotent Warden of England, a dictator of great subtlety, has resigned himself to apathy. Then he meets Julian, a bright, attractive woman, who wants Theo to join her circle of unlikely revolutionaries, a move that may shatter his shell of passivity.… And maybe, just maybe, hold the key to survival for the human race.
In her 12th book, the British author of the two series featuring Adam Dalgleish and Cordelia Gray ( Devices and Desires and An Unsuitable Job for a Woman , respectively) poses a premise that chills and darkens its setting in the year 2021. Near the end of the 20th century, for reasons beyond the grasp of modern science, human sperm count went to zero. The last birth occurred in 1995, and in the space of a generation humanity has lost its future. In England, under the rule of an increasingly despotic Warden, the infirm are encouraged to commit group suicide, criminals are exiled and abandoned and immigrants are subjected to semi-legalized slavery. Divorced, middle-aged Oxford history professor Theo Faron, an emotionally constrained man of means and intelligence who is the Warden's cousin, plods through an ordered, bleak existence. But a chance involvement with a group of dissidents moves him onto unexpected paths, leading him, in the novel's compelling second half, toward risk, commitment and the joys and anguish of love. In this convincingly detailed world--where kittens are (illegally) christened, sex has lost its allure and the arts have been abandoned--James concretely explores an unthinkable prospect. Readers should persevere through the slow start, for the rewards of this story, including its reminder of the transforming power of hope, are many and lasting. 125,000 first printing; BOMC main selection.