Flashback Fridays: In the hollow Lotos-land to live and lie reclined/ On the hills like Gods together, careless of mankind. . .

You’re a fourteen year old boy living in the dull and stultifying life of the Moon Bubble.  There’s little color, entertainment or fun to be had, so when your new friend suggests going outside the moon bubble to take a joy ride on a crawler to explore the surface of the moon and the mysterious remains of the first station, you say yes.

Do you remember:The Lotus Caves by John Christopher (Simon & Schuster, c1969)

In this far future story Marty and Steve are fourteen year old boys living on the moon in the Moon Bubble.  There’s not a lot to do, not much variety in life and both boys are itching for a taste of adventure.   They find it when Steve suggests they steal a crawler and go check out the old First Station remains.  The boys sneak out to do so, and their explorations lead them to a set of caves where an astonishingly earth-like orchard grows.  There are wonderful things to eat, and music to listen to  . . . and there’s a missing man–Andrew Thurgood, who they find living in this cavern paradise.  It seems the place was created by an alien plant for the pleasure of Mr. Thurgood and now the boys have stumbled on it as well.  But as readers will already know by the title, this paradise is the realm of the lotus eaters: Those who drug themselves into forgetting and letting life pass them by while they exist in a state of intoxicated bliss.  The boys slowly realize they’re being lulled into a state of near-dreaming, forgetting their lives outside the cavern, and decide to fight against it–but can they break free?

John Christopher may be the author of the Tripods trilogy, but he wrote quite a few other science fiction stories for young readers.  This one is not one of his best known stories, but is one I’ve never quite forgotten.  A tween adventure that questions the benefits of dream-filled contentment vs. actually living life with all its troubles.  While this particular story is extremely 70s flavored in its subject matter, I think it still bears some relevance today.  The title itself is a reverence to the lotus eaters,   people of Greek mythology who lived on an island where the lotus berries produced a powerful narcotic.  The quote in the title is from Tennyson’s poem The Lotos Eaters on the same subject.

John Christopher is actually the pseudonym of  Samuel Youd.  The author did most of his writing in the 60s and 70s, with his most famous work being his books for younger readers.  He’s one of the few science fiction writers whose works have remained nearly constantly in print: Christopher’s Tripods trilogy has remained on library shelves for over 40 years now, and are  being reprinted with new covers this year courtesy of Simon and Schuster.

Are you a John Christopher fan?  Comments welcome!

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About Stephanie Whelan

I'm a children's librarian with a life-long love of all things science fiction and fantasy.

Posted on February 21, 2014, in Flashback Fridays, General Posts and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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