1956 Science Fiction novel
by Philip K. Dick
. * * * *
Well, they finally did it, those bloody bastards. They blew it all up!
In the aftermath of war, the world's great thinkers realized their mistakes, and constructed a new society based on a new philosophy of "relativism
" which prohibited the devaulation of one human life or philosophy and the elevation of another. Mutant
s and sport
s (there were many) were to be treated with compassion rather than exterminated; this was enforced stringently.
But they reckoned without the populace. People couldn't be stringently, vigilantly moral all the time, and needed an other
to lash out against. Above all, the masses needed an opiate.
Into this gap stepped Floyd Jones
, a man who saw everything as it happened one year into the future. He began a political movement by preaching hatred against the "drifters", alien organisms which fall to Earth for no apparent reason. This was incoherent madness as far as FedGov was concerned, since the drifters are large single cell protozoa
which expire as soon as they land. Nevertheless, Jones acquires a following, complete with storm trooper
s and vigilante
patrols who burn drifters wherever they are encountered. All of FedGov's attempts to stop Jones are foiled, since he can see them one year ahead of time.
The story is told from the perspective of Secret Service
, the Federal agent who first discovered Jones. As Cussick lives out his life, he encounters Jones again and again, and watches in frustration as Jones pulls apart everything that has been so painstakingly rebuilt.
This is one of Dick's weaker works, with a pointless little subplot woven in to ameliorate the grimness of the ending, but of course, few authors would have thought to do even that. A weak Philip K. Dick novel is better than most writers' masterpieces. Read it.