Robinson Crusoe 1,000,000 A.D. Daniel Defoe's 1719 masterpiece, which has never gone of print, is not a fuzzy bunny Disney cartoon for children and childlike minds, but a DarkSF classic full of stark terror (betrayal, murder, cannibalism, nightmares) with only glimmers of redemption. John Argo's modern DarkSF take is (as Library Journal said in a 2003 review) "a fresh and original take on this timeless classic." As in all John Argo tales, there is always hope for redemption and joy at the end of a somber & terrifying ride. Is there a woman-Friday to relieve what would otherwise be a nightmare existence for Alex Kirk? Read this novel and learn the answer. Hint: "strawberry ice cream." More info soon. Site under development.
Robinsonades. While the theme of marooning itself is a literary and film trope that's been done a thousand times, the specific Robinson Crusoe theme acquired a special name in the 1800s: Robinsonades. Probably the best known Robinsonade is The Swiss Family Robinson (1812) by Johann David Wyss. In the rich world of science fiction, not to be outdone, we have the 1964 cult classic film Robinson Crusoe on Mars directed by Byron Haskin, It starred Paul Mantee and (Batman) Adam West.
John Argo, a lifelong Robinson Crusoe fan since he first read Defoe's novel as a child in Europe, seeing Robinson Crusoe on Mars in New Haven as a teenager, was awed and astounded. The inspiration of another SF Robinsonade simmered for many years, and ultimately (2003) resulted in this difficult to write tale. Among the difficulties: very few authors have the skill or vision to tackle a story in which there is no dialogue (only one character). That's why, in his 2000 Robinsonade Cast Away, Tom Hanks used the device of a volleyball named Wilson. In John Argo's novel, the protagonist simply talks to himself if at alluntil he meets his ravishing female Friday (but oops, read the novel, no spoilers).
John Argo has crafted a technically challenging work of art (not for easy readers) that challenges the boundaries of literature and art but along well-trodden paths. Library Journal praised its "novel and fresh approach" in a positive 2003 review.
Reads Like A Movie One of the unexpected side benefits of the lack of dialogue in the first half is that the novel reads at times like a movie. Most of John Argo's novels, especially DarkSF, have a certain cinematic pacing that is visual, quiet, and slow. These are not books for easy readers or people looking for car chases. One especially challenging section in the beginning reveals Alex's slow formation in the birthing tank in the intelligent, evolved caverns a million years from now (where once a university biology lab stood). This is depth and subtlety for the thoughtful reader to savor. The novel has baffled many a fuzzy bunnies reader over the years, but now it's time for discerning literati (not snobs, but poetry and philosophy types) to dig in.
Not A Walt Disney Fuzzy Bunnies Tale for Kids. We'll provide a longer treatment of this serious novel soon, as well as my own marooned tale (Robinson Crusoe 1,000,000 A.D.. The introduction by Prof. L. J. Swingle (Literature; University of Wisconsin) to the Barnes & Noble Classics Edition of Robinson Crusoe (original Daniel Defoe novel, 1719) begins thus: "People who have never actually read (the original) often think of it as a children's book..." and he goes onto demolish the notion, held by too many readers, that Robinson Crusoe is somehow a Walt Disney fuzzy bunnies tale for kids (and adults who never grew up). It is, actually, a tale of cannibalism, betrayal, slavery, and other sinfulness, written by a fanatical Calvinist pamphleteer during the age of England's bloody civil wars under Oliver Cromwell, during the dark, bloody, violent birth throes of Protestantism in the early modern English empire. That's not a partisan or sectarian observation, but a statement of historical fact about centuries of bloody wars (about nothing; but, as always, ruthless power struggles) that tore Europe to pieces (and resulted in the modern age with its mixed messages of Enlightenment, Industrial Revolution, new freedoms, and industrial slaughter on a scale never before imagined (two world wars, the atomic bomb, and chemical-biological warfare). In fact, the underlying (unstated) history behind Robinson Crusoe 1,000,000 A.D. is perforce a critique of human history and a peroration to do better before it's too late. As with other novels, the author leaves much unsaid while obeying the fundamental law of fiction (to entertain), in hope that the thoughtful reader will derive food for thought as well.
Original novel written by John Argo in 2003. Copyright © 2004 by John Argo. All Rights Reserved. Clocktower Books first edition 2004.
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Praise from Library Journal 2003.
Library Journal praised its "novel and fresh approach to a classic theme" in a positive 2003 review.
What is DarkSF? We like to say that DarkSF is the Dark Chocolate of Science Fiction. DarkSF is not about gore or grue but about art and atmosphere. It is literary and poetic. Think of the artful genius of Ridley Scott's 1982 Blade Runner or Alex Proyas' 1998 Dark City or Julien Leclercq's 2007 Chrysalis, just to name three. The best SF is DarkSF because it tends to embrace sweeping themes in a rich broth of art and atmosphere. The list is long, and includes far more of world literature than our Puritanical society is allowed to think. Elements occur in the Epic of Gilgamesh, Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, Dante's Divine Comedy, Defoe's 1719 Robinson Crusoe, and tales by many modern masters. We'll be publishing a special DarkSF website soon to celebrate.