Second paragraph of third chapter:
“After breakfast,” writes Professor West, “Edith informed me that she had put in a requisition for a young man and a young woman from our ward-house, and that she purposed, with their assistance, to devote the first half of the day to putting my study in order. This I took as a notice to absent myself until dinner time; and accordingly having seen that my more important papers were securely locked up, where they could not be disarranged, I wended my way to the college buildings. I found my lecture-room all newly-swept, and smelling somewhat of fresh paint and varnish, so after chatting a little while with such of the other professors as happened to be in the building, I went to the library and spent the rest of the morning there.[“]
I’m going to round out the year with a series of reviews of books set in 2023, though this only barely qualifies: the framing narrative is of a lecture series given in 2023 by Won Lung Li, a Chinese professor of recent history at an American university, but in fact almost all of the story takes place in 2020. Published in 1890, it is a direct riposte to Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward. Because America (and also incidentally France) have adopted cuddly utopian principles, the Chinese are basically able to walk in and take control with very little resistance. Julian West, the protagonist of Looking Backward, is the only person in America who knows about fighting wars, but he is doomed and his surviving papers supply Won Lung with lecturing material. There are some good bits with West and his family escaping occupied Boston on a railway handcart in the middle of the night, but otherwise it’s not a very good book; the Yellow Peril trope is out in full force, combined with Awful Warnings about the Dangers of Socialism. Mercifully short at least. You can get it here.