The Year of the Angry Rabbit - Russell Braddon

We got this book from the discards at the Salina Public Library some time back, partly for the ridiculous title and partly for the ridiculous cover: a crudely drawn bunny with malevolent pink eyes, holding a globe with a big bite taken out of it. Unfortunately, since the book was published in 1964, before ISBNs were introduced, it's hard to find a copy of the cover image online, or even a copy that you could buy. And what's unfortunate is that it's a really wonderful, brilliant book, and you're unlikely to get your hands on a copy yourself. (Amazon has a couple used copies for sale at ridiculous prices.) Who knows? Check your library and maybe they haven't discarded theirs yet.

At any rate, it's billed as a "comic-serious satire on human nature, taking place in 1999." Sometime in the late 1990s, Australia had a myxomatosis-immune rabbit problem, which they attempted to deal with by creating a super-myxomatosis. What they end up with is a superweapon which begins three years of Australian world supremacy in absolutely everything.

What's particularly brilliant about this book is the way Australian Prime Minister Kevin Fitzgerald handles his newly-acquired power. He brings about an era of world peace and banishes all nuclear scientists. He deals with problematic people by having them certified and throwing them in an asylum, and his main reason for having a Cabinet is so that he can fire people when something goes wrong. Some historical inaccuracies crop up (it was only 1964, after all), making for funny predictions (Nixon finally became president after seven unsuccessful tries) but for the most part it's just an absurd extrapolation of world politics.

Another wonderful fact I just discovered is that the novel was the inspiration for the so-bad-it's-hilarious 1972 movie "Night of the Lepus," in which giant man-eating rabbits take over the United States. I've only caught parts of it on TV (and there's a clip of it in "The Matrix"), but it's pure entertainment. The sad thing is, the movie completely misses the point of the book, which is more about politics and human nature, in favor of giant rabbits. Giant rabbits!

If you manage to find this book somewhere, give it a read!

Fed to jonathan's brain | January 11, 2006 | Comments (0)


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