WILD HARBOUR / AUTHOR: IAN MACPHERSON / PUBLISHER: BRITISH LIBRARY / RELEASE DATE: 15TH AUGUST
Continuing the British Library’s Classic Science Fiction series, we see the re-release of Wild Harbour from Scottish writer Ian Macpherson (1905 - 1944). It follows the journey of pacifist couple Terry and Hugh who, in the ever-growing threat of war coming to the UK, abandon civilisation altogether and take to living in a cave away from the rest of the world. Amidst the foraging for food and simple lifestyle, Terry and Hugh find solace. However, as the threat of war grows closer, can the couple continue with their own personal utopia?
Originally published in 1936, during a pacifist political wave which ultimately failed to avert the Second World War, Wild Harbour shares a lot in common with later books such as Lord of The Flies and Never Let Me Go in that it deals with human relationships with very dystopian settings, which would have been relatively unheard of at the time and, to modern readers, can be quite refreshing. The human relationship is driven by Terry and Hugh; the reader shares their lives and how they are driven by each other both subtly (being able to laugh with each other in their extreme circumstances) and overtly (being there for each other when making difficult choices).
Meanwhile, like classic novels such as Dracula, Wild Harbour is written in the form of diary entries (done so by Hugh to offer a real account of the decisions the couple have made), which can sometimes be hit and miss for the narrative. On the one hand, it provides a very personal account of what the characters go through, especially when morals become questioned. However, it means that some diary entries are much longer than expected in order to include extensive narrative setup.
Wild Harbour is a good novel to introduce non-sci-fi readers to the genre. Its central relationship in the threat of total annihilation is layered and interesting even with the hiccups in the use of diary entry narrative.