The Baldwins


96 pages
ISBN 0-88922-544-2
DDC C813'.6





Translated by Fred A. Reed and David Homel
Reviewed by Douglas Barbour

Douglas Barbour is a professor of English at the University of Alberta.
He is the author of Lyric/anti-lyric : Essays on Contemporary Poetry,
Breath Takes, and Fragmenting Body Etc.


Québécois writer Serge Lamothe has produced a truly weird novella.
Indeed this slim volume perfectly fits China Miéville’s definition of
“weird fiction,” which simply ignores the usual genre boundaries.

In The Baldwins, Lamothe has constructed a series of contes, about a
possible tribe or family about whom myths and legends have grown since
the unexplained apocalyptic end of the world—or at least end of life
as we know it.

Fifty years after the last government of turbo-liberals and its
president-for-life, who is a Baldwin, have been elected, a congress of
researchers puts together a report on the stories of the Baldwins. The
result is a series of surreal, fantastic, science-fictional tales that
make up the bulk of The Baldwins, in which various characters, both
human and other from their descriptions, enter into strange adventures
and events. In this fallen-more-than-usual world, time stretches, space
too, and nothing is either as it was or even as it seems. In most of the
tales, the tone is a kind of eccentric reportage or research rhetoric,
while what is reported is the very epitome of strange. From one point of
view, The Baldwins could be read as a kind of postmodern Metamorphoses,
as humanity itself undergoes bizarre changes.

In only one story does one of the figures under study get to speak for
herself, and that precocious nine-year-old turns out to be perhaps the
one who started the apocalypse. Hers is a delightful if terrifying
voice. And the world through which the other Baldwins later pass is just
the kind of strangely surreal nightmare we can imagine will follow the
various endtimes now being predicted.

Lamothe has devised an oddly poetic collection of connected and
confusing contes in The Baldwins, a book of strange attractors that
should attract any exploratory reader.


Lamothe, Serge., “The Baldwins,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 14, 2024,