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Book Title: Camp Concentration|
The author of the book: Thomas M. Disch
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Loaded: 2678 times
Reader ratings: 4.2
Date of issue: August 1969
ISBN 13: 9780586028469
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 430 KB
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Librarian's note: There is an Alternate Cover Edition for this edition of this book here.
Thomas M. Disch is one of the overlooked masters of science fiction, and Camp Concentration is one of his finest novels. The unlikely hero of this piece is Louis Sacchetti, an overweight poet who's serving a five-year prison term for being a "conchie," or conscientious objector, to the ongoing war being fought by the United States. Three months into his sentence, Sacchetti is mysteriously taken from prison and brought to Camp Archimedes, an underground compound run by General Humphrey Haast.
This is the so-called "camp concentration" of the book's title, a strange oubliette where inmates are given a drug that will raise their intelligence to astounding levels, though it will also kill them in a matter of months.
Sacchetti's job is to chronicle the goings-on at Archimedes in a daily journal that is sent to Haast and other select members of the project. Through his writings, readers get to know the various characters that inhabit the camp, geniuses whose intellectual fires burn brightly even while their bodies slowly go cold. Although these latter-day Einsteins are supposed to be thinking up new ways of killing the enemy, most of the inmates are instead focusing their studies on alchemy, which Haast hopes will allow them to discover the secret of immortality
Camp Concentration is one of those SF books that falls squarely into the "literature" category both for the eloquence of Disch's writing and the timelessness of his ruminations on life and war. This is a thoughtful novel that offers insights into human existence, and it will likely stay with readers long after they have turned the last page. Ursula K. Le Guin summed up the book best in her cover blurb, which says simply: "It is a work of art, and if you read it, you will be changed." --Craig E. Engler
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Read information about the authorPoet and cynic, Thomas M. Disch brought to the sf of the New Wave a camp sensibility and a sardonicism that too much sf had lacked. His sf novels include Camp Concentration, with its colony of prisoners mutated into super-intelligence by the bacteria that will in due course kill them horribly, and On Wings of Song, in which many of the brightest and best have left their bodies for what may be genuine, or entirely illusory, astral flight and his hero has to survive until his lover comes back to him; both are stunningly original books and both are among sf's more accomplishedly bitter-sweet works.
In recent years, Disch had turned to ironically moralized horror novels like The Businessman, The MD, The Priest and The Sub in which the nightmare of American suburbia is satirized through the terrible things that happen when the magical gives people the chance to do what they really really want. Perhaps Thomas M. Disch's best known work, though, is The Brave Little Toaster, a reworking of the Brothers Grimm's "Town Musicians of Bremen" featuring wornout domestic appliances -- what was written as a satire on sentimentality became a successful children's animated musical.
Thomas M. Disch committed suicide by gunshot on July 4, 2008.
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