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Gurglings of a Putrid Stream

Thoughts on books and other assorted topics.

See also:  http://goppf.wikidot.com/swstart

My name:  Brian Martin

The Ruins by Scott Smith

The Ruins - Scott B. Smith

Ad copy lie: the characters in the book hike to the site of a "fabled archeological dig" in Mayan territory. The dig consists of a mineshaft at the top of a hill. Don't expect any cool Mayan ruins.

So why the title? The characters themselves are the "ruins." They are what our society is left with at this point, people so weak and self-involved that they are incapable even of defending themselves. Which, by the way, is a nice idea. Trouble is, if, as is the case here, the story is told from their various points of view, it's self-defeating: weak and self-involved people are unpleasantly unpleasant and terminally frustrating.

The monster is a vine. Scary. Way back in 1923 Philip M. Fisher wrote a short story called "Fungus Isle." It was about shipwrecked survivors battling overgrown mushrooms. I didn't think they were scary, either.

Of course, the vine here may represent the creeping decay of modern civilization. Technology is a trap, history is forgotten or distorted, and people are shallow and easily manipulated. Now, that really is scary. But it's just subtext.

Someone else mentioned Stephen King's story "The Raft." The similarity struck me, as well, as I read this book, although, in my case, not in a good way. Someone should have asked the vine, "Do you love?" But of course it doesn't. In this book, love is just another one of those things we've forgotten how to do.