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There are seven billion-plus humans crowding the surface of 21st century Earth. It is an age of intelligent computers, mass-market psychedelic drugs, politics conducted by assassination, scientists who burn incense to appease volcanoes…all the hysteria of a dangerously overcrowded world, portrayed in a dazzlingly inventive style.
An enduring classic, this book offers a dramatic and prophetic look at the potential consequences of the escalating destruction of Earth. In this nightmare society, air pollution is so bad that gas masks are commonplace. Infant mortality is up, and everyone seems to suffer from some form of ailment. The water is polluted, and only the poor drink from the tap. The government is ineffectual, and corporate interests scramble to make a profit from water purifiers, gas masks, and organic foods. Environmentalist Austin Train is on the run. The Trainites, environmental activists and sometime terrorists, want him to lead their movement. The government wants him in jail, or preferably, executed. The media wants a circus. Everyone has a plan for Train, but Train has a plan of his own. This suspenseful science fiction drama is now available to a new generation of enthusiasts.
Matthew Flamen, the last of the networks’ spoolpigeons, is desperate for a big story. He needs it to keep his audience—and his job. And there is no shortage of possibilities: the Gottschalk cartel is fomenting trouble among the knees in order to sell their latest armaments to the blanks; which ties in nicely with the fact that something big is brewing with the X Patriots; and it looks as if the inconceivable is about to happen and that one of Britain’s most dangerous revolutionaries is going to be given a visa to enter America. And then there’s the story that just falls into his lap. The one that suggests that the respected Director of the New York State Mental Hospital is a charlatan…
John Brunner’s brilliant and scathing vision of a society disintegrating under the impact of violence, drugs, high-level corruption and the casual institutionalization of the ‘insane’ was a powerful and important statement in 1969. It remains a compelling and chilling tour de force three decades on.
Gerald Howson…was born in the gutter, with the body of a cripple. He was raised in harsh poverty and ridicule and he grew up with a mind of transcendant power.