Magazine November 1, 2021, Issue

P. D. James’s Still-Haunting Vision in Children of Men

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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

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This article appears as “Children of Men” in the November 1, 2021, print edition of National Review.

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John J. Miller, the national correspondent for National Review and host of its Great Books podcast, is the director of the Dow Journalism Program at Hillsdale College. He is the author of A Gift of Freedom: How the John M. Olin Foundation Changed America.

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