When P. D. James published The Children of Men in 1992, she described a future without a future: a world in which people had stopped reproducing. They simply couldn’t make babies anymore, for reasons unknown but possibly involving a pandemic. The opening line of her novel sets the scene: “Early this morning, 1 January 2021, three minutes after midnight, the last human being to be born on earth was killed in a pub brawl.” The second half of the story, including its climactic moments, unfolds in October.
The book’s future is now our present, at least on our calendars. This invites …
This article appears as “Children of Men” in the November 1, 2021, print edition of National Review.
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