THE RAGGED WORLD is a fascinating tale of the near-future which leaves the reader eager for more details of the alien Hefn and the more mysterious Gafr. Moffett concentrates on the personal stories of a few humans who encounter the Hefn, rather than a comprehensive global picture of the changes brought about by the shy but powerful creatures.
Two small groups of Hefn, who resemble trolls, were abandoned on Earth centuries ago. Elphi, the only one left alive, recounts the tale of their survival. The Hefn who appear in 2010, however, have no intention of adapting to fit the world they discover, a world in grave danger from the effects of pollution and overpopulation. The Hefn impose strict regulations upon the people of Earth: Nuclear power must be eliminated, large tracts must be reforested, and Earth’s air and water must be returned to its pre-industrial state, regardless of the effect on present life-styles. And when, three years later, the people of Earth have not made sufficient progress, the Hefn decree that no more babies will be conceived, a penalty enforced simply by “suggesting” to humans that they are infertile.
More important is the reaction of the humans who actually meet Hefn: Jenny, saved by Elphi on the Yorkshire moor; Nancy, alienated from other humans by AIDS; and Carrie and Terry, whose glimpse of the future long before the Hefn are known sets them apart from their complacent fellows.
The highly imaginative but carefully structured presentation of a possible future, and the human drama and compelling emotions of the narrators whose lives are immeasurably altered by their encounters with the Hefn, work together to create a powerful impact upon the reader.