Top positive review
Fantastic, fun, crime thriller of a sci fi novel
on 26 July 2017
This is really what I wanted the movie Minority Report to be like, I have a copy of Bester's other book "Stars My Destination" but have yet to read it, if as some reviewers suggest that it is a better read than this one then I will be pleased because I really liked this book. I found this, my first acquaintance with Bester to be a pacy, fast moving, page turner of a read, how could you possibly plot and execute a murder in an age when extra sensory perception would appear to make detection and arrest a foregone conclusion?
The narrative is primarily focused variously upon the killer/protagonist and detective/"esper"/antagonist, as other reviewers revealed already there is perhaps some clumbsy pseudo-psychodynamics employed in the narrative, Oedipus complex and all, unconscious motivations etc. but what I found more interesting was how the protagonist, Ben Reich, plotted and executed the crime, then tried to manipulate special interest groups, the chief of police and others to escape and evade the authorities and also the authorities fortunes and misfortunes in hot pursuit of their suspect.
The topic of extra sensor perception and how it works, the status of its users, how they are regulated and self-regulated within a society which is populated by non-extra sensory perceivers in the main is brilliant. In fact its what made the book for me more or less. A very different picture to the individuals suspended in the tanks in Minority Report, the ability to mind read is not sufficient to prosecution or even correct understanding often, as it happens. I absolutely loved the way in which the author managed to portray how "espers" communicated with one another without verbalising or using speech, the way the words appear on the page crossing over and creating images (at one point during a parlour game) was very creative.
The subject of "Demolition" the consequences/punishment which await anyone committing the crime of murder did not take up much of the story as it happened, which I found surprising, it also was not what I had anticipated at all and proved a little less horrific to what I had expected, then again I realise that is a pretty optimistic piece of science fiction in an unimaginably distant future in which murder itself has been unknown for a very long time.
Something another reviewer mentioned, which I found amusing too and always do (its part of why I love the masterworks series and classics of science fiction so much, yesterday's tomorrow really is today), is the "guesswork" of the author, there are flying cars, amazing innovations but alongside that computers appear surprising primitive, punch card operated and printer paper spooling monstrosities, cameras are not antique etc.