Up to Eric's Home Page To Index Sat Mar 31 23:38:39 EST 1990

This is Raymond's Reviews #23.5

%T Glasnost and Perestroika
%A Mikhail Gorbachev and the Collapsing Soviet Economy
%I: all major news media
%O: reality, already

This near-future thriller of revolutionary change in the Communist Bloc is compellingly written, but lacks a bit in the believability department. I mean, seriously...the Evil Empire broken up and Lenin's "leading role" repudiated by none other than the General Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party himself?

And the authors build up to this implausible scene by stages that are individually hardly less remarkable. A worker's revolution in Poland...the Berlin Wall dismantled after massive grass-roots agitation for reunification with West Germany...the government of Czechoslovakia peacefully overthrown by a soft-spoken playwright...the people of Romania rising in wrath to kill their dictator after 40 years of subservience?! Really...

By the time one gets to the demonstration scene in Red Square with the placards reading "Workers of the World, We're Sorry!", one can only laugh. How could the authors have possibly expected us to credit all this?

Perhaps most bizarre and incredible of all, geopolitically, are the projections of massive unilateral Soviet troop withdrawals from Eastern Europe, and of multiparty democracy taking hold in the Soviet Union. Even before Communism, Russia had been expansionist and despotic for five centuries; the rapid progress described toward Western-style government-by-law is just utterly unbelievable.

Science fiction is supposed to be plausible. Glasnost and Perestroika, for all the gripping drama of its narrative, certainly isn't. But those of you willing to suspend disbelief in a wonderfully optimistic wish-fulfillment scenario will have a great time with it.

Watch for the next in this series, an even wilder-and-woolier flight of fancy in which the U.S. pays off its budget deficit and abolishes its government...

Up to Eric's Home Page To Index Sat Mar 31 23:38:39 EST 1990

Eric S. Raymond <esr@snark.thyrsus.com>