Fat Man and Little Boy, by Mike Meginnis, (Black Balloon Publishing), 416 pages, released October 14, 2014
Imagine that each of the two atomic bombs the U.S. dropped on Japan during World War II begat a human being (or a being near human) upon impact. That’s the premise behind Mike Meginnis’s Fat Man and Little Boy. Yes, Fat Man (he changes his name to John) is fat; and, yes, Little Boy (later Matthew) is little. In an ironic touch, however, Little Boy is the “big” brother, born three days before Fat Man.
Fat Man and Little Boy travel, first across Japan, later about the world, trying to figure out who they are. Each remembers coming into being during an explosion, but has very little sense of self beyond that. Strange things happen where they travel: women and animals conceive and give birth in a matter of weeks, sometimes to healthy offspring, sometimes to deformed or incomplete creatures; strange molds grow at an unnatural rate wherever they are.
This concept is brilliant, but I enjoyed the book less than I thought I would. The prose is crisp, but I found I couldn’t stay engaged enough with these two central characters for the full 400+ pages.
I’ll acknowledge that I’ve never been much for science fiction (which is more or less that category Fat Man and Little Boy falls under), so that may explain my lukewarm response. The book has gotten excellent reviews on GoodReads, so clearly there is a readership out there who can appreciate it. If you like science fiction or if you enjoy reading extended parables of a sort, you may want to check this book out for yourself.