There’s a lot going on in this novel beyond the main storyline, some of it good, some of it not so good. Written in 1969, this novel was written in the future (1992), which is now our past. Dick got virtually none of his future predictions right in this novel, which casts it in a bit of a negative light. The main plot is that Glen Runciter runs an anti-psi agency to counter the use of agencies that are using telepathy and other paranormal means to gain an advantage in the business world. Joe Chip is his right hand man who tests anti-psy abilities for the agencies. Things change when they encounter a woman who has a talent they have never seen before, which is to change the past. Chip recognizes that she is very dangerous, which proves to be true. The other main aspect of the plot is that people don’t die. They go into cold stasis where they are still sort of alive and people can communicate with them, something that figures very prominently in the novel and becomes the main plot line after being a secondary one.
I liked the tone and voice of the novel. It moves at a fast pace, and there is always either action or intrigue taking place. On the other hand, the novel was often confusing, especially about mid-way through. As I mentioned, his predictions of the future weren’t very accurate. In his future, machines can talk and have personalities. It also requires coins to operate them, even simple things like opening a door. He has the foresight to come up with these machines, but then they use nickels and dimes to operate them, so he completely ignored the concept of inflation. There is also never a resolution to the plot line where Runciter’s people are ambushed. That was more or less ignored about half way through. As I mentioned, there is some good and some bad, but by and large this was an entertaining novel.
Carl Alves - author of Reconquest: Mother Earth