Keep The People Entertained,
This review is from: Solar Lottery (GOLLANCZ S.F.) (Paperback)
Philip K. Dick's first novel, "Solar Lottery" was published in May of 1955. It is a relatively short novel, at around 190 pages, but it is not short on ideas or concepts. The reader is faced with a society in the year 2203 where the highest political position (Quizmaster) is chosen by a lottery which is supposed to give each person an equal chance at the position. That is coupled with sanctioning assassins which are chosen by convention to kill the Quizmaster. Another key to the society is the oaths which one gives and receives to and from people, and to organizations.
There are two significant storylines, the first is centered on Ted Benteley, a man released from his job due to some unexplained fires decides to get a position working directly for the Directorate and the Quizmaster, Reece Verrick. What he doesn't realize is that Reece has lost his position and that a new Quizmaster, Leon Cartwright, has been selected. Reece is now concerned with choosing an assassin to eliminate the new Quizmaster and regain power. The second storyline is that of Leon Cartwright, a member of the Preston Society, a kind of cult which is seeking the Flame Disc, a planet at the edge of our solar system which Preston wrote about.
The blending of the two storylines is handled in a rather odd fashion. The book focuses almost entirely on the first storyline for an extended period after introducing the second storyline in the second chapter. The reader knows the second storyline is important, but it doesn't develop until much later. In addition to the two storylines, there are quite a number of concepts dealt with in this novel. There are the Telepathic Corps who guard the Quizmaster, and the development of the special assassin to deal with Leon Cartwright. The society as a whole generates a lot of questions as well, but these are only touched on slightly.
Overall the telling of this story feels a bit clumsy, but it is still worth reading. Dick's society robs people of their individuality and their ambition, and the Prestonites are treated as cranks and oddballs, largely because they still display these attributes. This is far from Dick's best work, but as his first published novel it holds interest for those who enjoy his writings.