2018 A.D. Essay - Critical Essays

Analysis

Beginning in the 1950’s, a subdivision of dystopian novels developed that examined dystopian futures in a highly satirical way. Early examples are Bernard Wolfe’s Limbo (1952), Frederik Pohl and Cyril M. Kornbluth’s The Space Merchants (1953), and several other of Pohl’s science-fiction novels. The interesting link among these books is that all of them depict humans as victims of a totalitarian system rather than as the cause.

2018 A.D.: Or, The King Kong Blues is Lundwall’s fourth novel. He wrote his first science-fiction story, a play titled Kalles Planetariumfärd, at the age of eleven. It was broadcast by a Swedish radio station. In the 1960’s, he was a singer and composer, as well as a producer of several science-fiction television films. He began editing Jules Verne Magasinet in 1972. Most of his novels have been translated into various languages. He does translations of his books into English himself.

The earlier novels Alice’s World (1970), No Time for Heroes (1970), and Bernhard the Conqueror (1973) are all humorous looks at common science-fiction clichés. In 2018 A.D.: Or, The King Kong Blues, Lundwall takes a broader approach. He leaves the confines of science fiction and debates the real world and its possible future. This is in many ways a more mature work than its predecessors. Its hard-hitting dystopian satire takes swipes at almost every major social institution, including government, business, religion, and advertising. The book was a huge success in Sweden and was translated into several languages. An album on which Lundwall performs music related to the book made it to the top of the Swedish charts.

The book did not receive a similarly positive reception in the American science-fiction market. One possible reason is that the Swedish setting was not as appealing to an American audience; another is the general neglect of Continental European authors by American readers of science fiction.