Sunday, April 26, 2009

Martian Time-Slip (book review)

Book review from the desk of The Movie Snob

Martian Time-Slip, by Philip K. Dick. This is just the first of five novels included in the new collection of Dick's work by the Library of America, entitled Five Novels of the 1960s & 70s (2008). As with the previous volume, I'll review each novel as I finish it, or else I'll forget the first ones before I finish the volume. Martian Time-Slip (1964) is a good and, by Dick's standards, fairly straightforward yarn. It is the near future, and Earth has gotten hugely overcrowded. Nervous breakdowns from the stress of life are commonplace. Some colonies have been established on Mars (where all the action takes place), and one of the main characters is a gifted mechanic/electrician who emigrated after suffering a breakdown on Earth. He is drawn into the orbit of the leader of the powerful Martian trade unions, who is de facto one of the most powerful men on the planet. Somehow (I forget how, exactly), the union guy comes to believe that a particular autistic child has psychic powers akin to time-travel, and he persuades the electrician to help him try to communicate with the boy (for purely venal motives, of course). Things unfold unexpectedly and satisfactorily. A good story, and not as suffocatingly paranoid as many of Dick's stories.


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