Quasimodo of the future?
September 22, 2006 4:30 AM   Subscribe

Help me identify this youth science fiction book-filter!

Ok, here's the details that I can remember. I must have read it in the late 80's sometime, as I pretty clearly remember reading it before high school. The basic plot involved a futuristic (post-apocalyptic?) society where everyone was living in city-domes. Everyone has these electronic devices (for knowledge access? mind control? food? I can't remember) attached to their backs, resulting in a serious hunchback. The main character somehow ends up outside one of the domes, only to find that hey, there's a (living in huts, hunter-gatherer-maybe-farming) society going on out here as well, and nature rules, and we don't NEED those electronic devices! Wow! I think he goes back into the city to englighten everyone, but I can't really remember clearly, as it was probably 15 years ago that I read it.

Please, *somebody* must remember this book! It's been driving me nutty for years!
posted by antifuse to Media & Arts (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Sounds like Logan's Run. Or at least a derivative story.
posted by geekyguy at 6:33 AM on September 22, 2006

Response by poster: It's definitely not Logan's Run... From what I understand of that story, people are forcibly executed (or something?) at age 30. And the hero was somebody who turned 30 but didn't want to die. In this book, the hero was a child (well, probably young teenager or something, as that's who the book was aimed at).
posted by antifuse at 6:37 AM on September 22, 2006

Sounds like John Christopher/Samuel Youd's "Tripods" series.
posted by mediareport at 6:40 AM on September 22, 2006

The domes part reminds me of "Catacomb Years" by Michael Bishop, but aside from owning the book, I'm not sure if it's what you're looking for.
posted by drezdn at 7:18 AM on September 22, 2006

Response by poster: I'm almost positive it's the Tripods books. The first one (The White Mountains) at any rate. Although the second one sounds familiar as well. Thanks, mediareport! Off to Amazon I go!
posted by antifuse at 7:41 AM on September 22, 2006

Response by poster: (Oddly, Amazon.co.uk seems to have 3 of the 4 Tripods books available, but City of Gold and Lead they don't have new. Time to find me some Amazon Marketplace sellers that have the series!)
posted by antifuse at 7:51 AM on September 22, 2006

Doesn't quite sound like the Tripod books to me. The people in the Tripod books had electronic caps, not hunchbacks, and they lived in small agrarian communities (cities were abandoned and considered taboo).

Go pick them up anyway. I also recommend Ira Levin's This Perfect Day, which is closer to what you're looking for (but still not right on the money).
posted by infinitewindow at 8:13 AM on September 22, 2006

I don't think this is the Tripod series either. This is a book I've read - or one that I've seen in "Stump the Bookseller". I'm off to dig around a little.
posted by chr1sb0y at 8:25 AM on September 22, 2006

Response by poster: Hrmm, perhaps then I've just *read* the tripod series, and that's why it's triggering my memory? :)
posted by antifuse at 8:27 AM on September 22, 2006

Here's one possibility from Stump the Bookseller (link above): H. M. Hoover, This Time Of Darkness, 1980. -- H. M. Hoover wrote a book called This Time Of Darkness, about two children - Amy and Axel - who live in an underground city (but they don't realize it's underground). Axel actually came from the outside world. He convinces Amy to journey to the 'end of the city' with him, to see if he can get back outside again. They discover the city is under a dome and under the earth. The people below are kept - literally - in the dark by the ones living in the upper levels. The outside world has been devastated by an earlier war or holocaust, and the belief is that it's still uninhabitable. Axel and Amy escape to the outside and eventually find their way back to Axel's home.
posted by chr1sb0y at 8:28 AM on September 22, 2006

Not the Tripods series. In the tripods sereis, it is the Masters -- the alien invaders who have enslaved the people -- who live in domes. The second book in the series (The City of Gold and Lead) is primarily about how one of the protagonists infiltrates the domed city, which is domed in order to pump in an atmosphere similar to that of the Masters' home planet. While he is there, under cover as a servant, he has to wear a special suit including an oxygen pack in order to breathe.

I'll add to the voices in favor of checking out these books -- i must have read them a dozen times when i was in elementary school -- but it's definitely not the book you are describing.
posted by milkman at 8:38 AM on September 22, 2006

Response by poster: Hrmm, another familiar one. I seriously wonder if I'm perhaps merging two books in my head? But I distinctly remember the thing on the back, annd the hunchback, and the hunchback straightening out after being out of the city for some amount of time. So perhaps I just read lots of books about domed cities as a kid?
posted by antifuse at 8:41 AM on September 22, 2006

Other possibilities (also from Stump the Bookseller):

Andre Norton wrote a book called Outside, published by Avon in 1976. Blurbs include "Kristle and Lew need to escape from the giant dome in which they are sealed" and "A fast paced imaginative tale of a brother and sister trapped within a dome, after the Earth has become plagued with pollution and sickness".

Stoutenburg, Adrien, Out There, 1971. This is an alternative answer for the poster. Blurb on the inside flap reads: "Out There is a story set in the future, in the twenty-first century, when the world has become so despoiled by wars and environmental destruction that people have been forced to abandon the contaminated and polluted countryside, and live instead in cities covered by plastic domes. Outside these sterile cities the treeless mountains and barren spaces are deserted, and only the older generation remember the wildlife that once covered them. Yet, suppose that somewhere 'out there' birds still sang and foxes hunted? This was the vision that inspired five children and an eccentric old lady to set out on an expedition into the wilderness of the Lost Lakes region of the Sierra Nevada in search of animals and other long-forgotten wildlife. This exciting adventure story presents a horribly convincing picture of what the world would be like if squirrels and hummingbirds, fawns and butterflies ever disappeared from the earth and were remembered only as mythical animals like the unicorn and the flying horse." My copy is a 1979 reprint of the first British edition of this American book and was published by The Bodley Head, ISBN: 0-370-01235-6.

Journey outside (by Mary Q. Steele)? Library catalogue summary: "The Raft People live in darkness and travel a circular journey on a underground river. One boy finds his way outside and tries to learn as
much as possible so he can ultimately lead his people there to the Better Place."
posted by chr1sb0y at 8:52 AM on September 22, 2006

Best answer: Courtesy of an AskMe lurker, who left a comment on my blog:
The book you're looking for is NOT one of the Tripods books. It's _Devil on My Back_ by Monica Hughes. Wikipedia entry here:


There was a sequel called _The Dream Catcher_ that dealt with another domed city, which relied on psychic ability rather than the surgical computer implants.
Without actually reading it, I couldn't tell you if that's it for SURE... but it seems to cover pretty much all the plot points that I remember. Now, to get copies of all these fun old books from my childhood! :)
posted by antifuse at 8:57 AM on September 22, 2006

Response by poster: In fact, looking at Monica Hughes' list of books, I think I've read quite a few of her books (in particular, the Isis series is sticking out in my head)
posted by antifuse at 9:00 AM on September 22, 2006

Response by poster: Also, the Crisis on Conshelf Ten books. My school libraries must have been heavy into the Canadian sci-fi! Understandable, in the suburbs of Toronto :)
posted by antifuse at 9:09 AM on September 22, 2006

Actually it sounds more like Captive Universe by Harry Harrison to me. Though in this one, it starts in the hunter gatherer world and the main character escapes into the areas where people are hooked up to the back braces (actually a sort of powered exoskeleton) to support their very weak bodies.
posted by quin at 12:05 PM on September 22, 2006

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