Form and Content
The Changes Trilogy consists of three separate novels depicting a seven-year span of time during which a hatred of machinery destroys modern Western civilization in Great Britain. In the chaos that ensues, various social structures emerge, all in some ways reminiscent of the Dark Ages or early medievalism. The source of the antimachine hatred is finally traced to Merlin, King Arthur’s wizard, who has been disturbed in his long underground sleep and who has been seeking to return Britain to his Arthurian age. He is sent to sleep again, and modernity reemerges.
The first novel of the trilogy, The Devil’s Children, is placed near the commencement of “the Changes,” as the antimachine hatred is called. London is abandoned, since it is full of machines, even though most of them lie smashed. Nicola Gore’s parents have fled to France with millions of others, but she has been separated from them in the panic. As previously instructed, she returns to London to await a rescue that never comes. Driven by loneliness, she joins a group of Sikhs who seem unaffected by the psychological disturbances. They use her as their “canary,” to warn them of danger from the remaining populace if the group does anything that might inflame their anger.
The group locates an abandoned farm in Hampshire. The nearby village of Felpham regards them with suspicion, calling them “The Devil’s Children.” Nicky acts as intermediary between the Sikhs and the “Master,” a huge former farmhand who has assumed feudal control of the village. A barter trade is established. The delicate balance is broken when a marauding band of robbers kills the Master and takes the village children hostage. The Sikhs rescue the children and kill or drive off the robbers. Out of this incident, a more integrated and democratic system of government for the village emerges, and its prospers.
The second novel, Heartsease, named after the wild pansies that are Aunt Anne’s favorite flower, is set a few years into the Changes, when contact between Britain and the rest of the world has ceased. An American spy, Otto, is sent to discover what is happening; he is caught and stoned as a witch—witchcraft now being defined as anything to do with machinery.
(The entire section is 938 words.)