|Genre||Science fiction, Dystopian fiction|
|16 October 1980|
|Media type||Print (Hardcover)|
Riddley Walker (1980) is a science fiction novel by Russell Hoban, first published in 1980. It won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best science fiction novel in 1982, as well as an Australian Science Fiction Achievement Award in 1983. It was nominated for the Nebula Award for Best Novel in 1981.
It is Hoban's best-known adult novel and a drastic departure from his other work, although he continued to explore some of the same themes in other settings.
The novel is written in a stylistic, imaginary dialect based on and inspired by the dialect of Kent.
The novel's characters live a harsh life in a small area which is presently the English county of Kent, and know little of the world outside of "Inland" (England). Their level of civilization is similar to England's prehistoric Iron Age, although they do not produce their own iron but salvage it from ancient machinery. Church and state have combined into one secretive institution, whose mythology, based on misinterpreted stories of the war and an old Catholic saint (Eustace), is enacted in puppet shows.
Peter Ruppert noted that Hoban's novel draws on "such well-known dystopias as A Clockwork Orange, Lord of the Flies, and A Canticle for Leibowitz", and "what is unique in Hoban's haunting vision of the future is his language" which is described as being similar to the Nadsat slang spoken in Anthony Burgess' A Clockwork Orange. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists stated that, "The force and beauty and awfulness of Hoban's creation is shattering," and praised the author's use of a crude "Chaucerian English". John Mullan of The Guardian also praised Hoban's decision to narrate the novel in a devolved form of English: "The struggle with Riddley's language is what makes reading the book so absorbing, so completely possessing."
Library Journal wrote that the book holds "a unique and beloved place among the few after-Armageddon classics". It was included in David Pringle's book Science Fiction: The 100 Best Novels. In 1994, American literary critic Harold Bloom included Riddley Walker in his list of works comprising the Western Canon.
Film and theater
- Robert C. Cumbow wrote in Slant Magazine that the post-apocalyptic film Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome borrowed "whole ideas, themes and characterizations" from the novel.
- Hoban's own theatrical adaptation premiered at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester, in February 1986. It was directed by Braham Murray and starred David Threlfall. Its U.S. premiere was at the Chocolate Bayou Theatre, in April 1987, directed by Greg Roach.
- In 1989, Russell Hoban gave permission for theatre students at Sir Percival Whitley/Calderdale College, Halifax, West Yorkshire, to transcribe the book into a theatrical script, which was then staged in a new production at The Square Chapel, Halifax.
- In November 2007, the play was produced by Red Kettle in Waterford, Ireland, to positive reviews.
- In 2011, the play was also adapted for Trouble Puppet Theater Co. by artistic director Connor Hopkins at Salvage Vanguard Theater in Austin, Texas. This production employed tabletop puppetry inspired by the Bunraku tradition and was supported by an original score by Justin Sherburn.
- In March 2015, a group of Aberystwyth drama students performed the play in Theatre y Castell over the course of two days. The production was directed by David Ian Rabey.
- "The Rapture of Riddley Walker" is the eighth song on the Clutch album From Beale Street to Oblivion (2007).
- "Widder's Dump", named after a location in the book and notes on the credits as being inspired by the novel, is the fifth song on the 1989 King Swamp album.
- "In the Heart of the Wood and What I Found There" from the album Thunder Perfect Mind by Current 93 features references to Riddley Walker. Another Current 93 song, "The Blue Gates of Death" from the album Earth Covers Earth incorporates a rhyme from the book. Also, their album Of Ruine or Some Blazing Starre cites the Saint Eustace story.
- Mullen, John (2010-11-13). "Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban". The Guardian. Retrieved 2012-01-16.
- Ruppert, Peter (1999). "Riddley Walker". Utopian Studies. Penn State University Press. 10 (2): 254–255. ISSN 1045-991X. JSTOR 20718123.
- Messic, Penelope (June 1982). "Penelope Messic reviews Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban". Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. 38 (6): 49–50. ISSN 0096-3402.
- Mullan, John (2010-11-13). "Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2019-10-02.
- Clark, Jeff (July 1981). "Hoban, Russell. Ridley Walker". Book Review. Library Journal. 106 (13): 1443. ISSN 0363-0277.
- Teeter, Robert. "Bloom. Western Canon". sonic.net. Retrieved 2019-10-02.
- Cumbow, Robert C. (2010-06-19). "Summer of '85: We Don't Need Another Hero: Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 2015-05-03.
- Awl, Dave. "Russell Hoban's RIDDLEY WALKER". THE HEAD OF ORPHEUS - A Russell Hoban Reference Page. Retrieved 2013-04-14.
- "Red Kettle Theatre Company, Waterford: Riddley Walker". red-kettle.com. November 2007. Archived from the original on 2009-06-18. Retrieved 2013-04-14.
- "Trouble Puppet Theater Co. Archives". troublepuppet.com. 2011-11-08. Archived from the original on 2014-09-11. Retrieved 2013-04-14.
- Prato, Greg. "From Beale Street to Oblivion - Clutch | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 2012-07-19.
- Allan, Mark. "King Swamp - King Swamp | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 2012-07-19.
- Bishop, Eli (ed.). "Related works". Riddley Walker Annotations. Retrieved 2017-12-10.