The Micronauts by Gordon Williams (1977)

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The Micronauts by Gordon Williams (1977)

Post  BoG on Tue Jan 18, 2011 10:51 pm

The Micronauts: a novel about shrunken humans by Gordon Williams.
_ I have a paperback edition published in 1977: (no relation to the toys or comic book series of about the same time).
I was reminded of this old novel after re-watching the old film Dr. Cyclops, which featured a group of humans shrunk via radiation. The novel went a different way, however - a different method of depicting insect-sized humans.
The plot of the novel revolves around the fast-approaching calamity of Earth running out of food resources for its large population - this is similar to sci-fi stories / films such as No Blade of Grass. It takes place in the near-future; I'm not sure how far in the future, going by memory (I last read this years ago). In this novel, however, the reader is presented with an unusual possible solution to the problem - Project Arcadia.

Arcadia involves a group of dedicated scientists who have developed a method of transferring human consciousness / minds into tiny cloned bodies; the tiny clones are miniature duplicates of the original humans, though these new bodies are younger versions of the originals. The original bodies are kept in stasis, in some liquid substance, inside metallic containers. I don't recall if the novel details the exact size of these small clones, but I believe them to be about an inch in height - maybe two; I recall a mention of them being one-thirty fifth the size of a normal human. The implication is obvious: if a population of, say, a million people are all 'transferred' into these new tiny bodies, their food needs could all be met much more easily. It's mentioned that they would have a virtually unlimited food supply in a conventional garden.

In the plot, the scientists are based out of top secret house which sits next to a large garden. A special team of government operatives have been sent to the location to find out what is going on, because the scientists have kept their revolutionary work secret even from the government. The head scientist has been reported lost somewhere in the garden while he was on one of the exploratory forays into the garden in his cloned body. The government team needs the head scientist for something - I forget what - so a top government official directs that they be transferred to new cloned bodies and go on a mission into the garden to find the scientist. The scientist's wife also goes along; the team is 7 tiny humans all together, a mixture of civilian scientists and military personnel.

This story is like an ultimate adventure, a new frontier, similar to stuff like Star Trek but sort of going into inner space rather than outer space. It has obvious similarities to the plot of the later Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989), but done in a serious manner. Obviously, there are dangers: insects are a bother, but there are other dangers; if one is about an inch in height, a bird, as one example, can pose a severe threat. I found this to be a great read back in the seventies; it's well paced, smartly written, with some science thrown in to explain the cloning, though I wasn't too clear on how the minds of humans are actually transferred into the tiny clones - that was a bit murky.

Way back in the seventies, the novel also read like a good property to adapt into an exciting film; the characters are well drawn - I found most of them to be pretty interesting. I would picture someone like Michael Caine in the lead as the main character Robert Bruce, a cynical but still somewhat heroic scientist who is forced to go on the strange mission. And maybe Robert Shaw as the main military man (though Shaw passed away a year after publication of this). The film never happened, of course, but Williams wrote two sequel novels (see below).

Also, a bit unusual, the paperback contains about a dozen pen & ink illustrations by famed artist Boris Vallejo, who also illustrated the cover. These depict various 'scenes' from the story. A couple of these are below:


HERE ARE A COUPLE MORE:
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The Microcolony (1979)

Post  BoG on Tue Jan 18, 2011 10:56 pm

The Microcolony and Revolt of the Micronauts are the 2 sequel novels to The Micronauts, all by Gordon Williams:
I have the paperback editions which were published in 1979 and 1981. The Microcolony, the first sequel, advances the premise started in the first novel by establishing an actual full-sized colony of 'micropeople' in a garden, while the rest of the normal-sized world has pretty much gone to hell (the first novel involved a very small group of people as micro-sized, not yet colony-sized). In the plot, the colony becomes a dictatorship and a small group goes out on their own; this kind of duplicates the plot of the first novel, a drawback of most sequels, instead of expanding on the details of an actual microcolony.

In the 3rd novel, the writer was unable to take it into new different directions, concentrating on simple thrills and action. The story has the semblance of something rushed out and I was astonished to read (again, going by memory) that a character, a villain, had returned in the 3rd novel, even though he had been killed in the 2nd one. It was as if the writer and the editors all forgot that this character had been killed. When one is writing about clones, of course, many things are possible, but this was not explained; nor was this a twin brother. Very odd. Question In retrospect, it's no surprise that there were no further novels, even though I enjoyed the series, for the most part.

One can still get these on Amazon.com [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.], but be aware that there's another book titled Micronaut World, which I believe to be simply a re-packaged edition of The Microcolony > [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]

Also, you can see these at this book site: [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] and [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]
BoG's Grades: The Micronauts - 7 ; The Microcolony - 6 ; Revolt of the Micronauts - 4
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