Chung Kuo, Book 1 Summary
by David Wingrove

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Chung Kuo, Book 1

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

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CHUNG KUO is the first book in a projected seven-volume cycle dealing with a thoroughly plausible version of the future of the human community. The time is 2196, and the world is vastly different from its late twentieth century state. For one thing, the entire human race is housed, for the most part, in seven multilayered cities ruled by as many kings, or T’ang. The seven T’ang are the successors to a highly organized and despotic regime created by a legendary Chinese dictator--a man who vanquished the military forces of Europe and the Americas to establish total control. Once this was accomplished, a process which also involved the extermination of the Japanese, the entire African community, and the whole of the Semitic peoples, the survivors were collected and enjoined to serve the conquering Han as their new masters saw fit.

If the following century was one of peace and stability, in comparison to that which preceded it, it was also a period of stagnating tyranny. At least such is the view of the Dispersionists--a growing group of European merchant princes dissatisfied with the status quo. The seven T’ang, however, are not inclined to allow such a change without a fight; they are convinced any change will lead to the destruction of the political structure they control.

David Wingrove has set himself an enormous task. On the one hand, he proposes to describe the complicated process whereby one political faction displaces another in control of a highly complex global society. At the same time, he must create and people a technologically advanced society in such a manner that the reader is informed but not bored with intricate detail. He has succeeded on both counts. If Wingrove is able to complete this series and maintain the level established in CHUNG KUO, his achievement will stand as a literary tour de force.