peteg's blog - noise - books - 2009 10 02 Brunner JaggedOrbit

John Brunner: The Jagged Orbit

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Brunner is on some good drugs here: it's the end of the 1960s and this is (?) his first fat book: almost 400 pages of splintered narrative and psychedelic scenery. In fact, all the characters are on drugs too.

In essence this is a fairly standard story about a computer that tries to predict the future and goes crazy in doing so. It amounts to something like Arnie in Terminator 2, banging on about a future that is somehow going to be avoided and yet somehow can't be, except in this case it is because the Skynet-equivalent is not so much involved in the killing but is merely trying to maximise sales for its arms cartel owners. Uh-huh.

He has some cute devices but all are entirely dispensible. There are no unattractive women here, and all are geek ideals. Utopia ahoy... barring the urban decay, but that's OK, presumably we're all holed up at home on drugs. The writing is self-indulgently flabby and there's a good chunk of condescending say-don't-show in the latter parts. Can't we have a deus ex machina with a smaller mouth?