In the 22nd Century, humanity has evolved into three separate groups, Central Park is only an acre, and alcohol is illegal. Earth is ruled by an uneasy alliance of New Men, super intelligent humans, and Unusuals, who have various psionic powers. These two groups share power over Old Men, who have neither of these abilities and are more like humanity as we know ourselves today. This future is the setting for an enthralling story of rebellion, love and humanities failure.
Whilst the world is ruled by two groups of advanced humans, the majority of the population are Old Men, and amongst them is an organisation of rebels known as Under Men. This group is plotting to overthrow the establishment; they distribute illegal literature by an activist named Corden, and support another, Thors Provoni, who has fled the planet in search of extra-terrestrial help. With Provoni’s impending arrival the leadership of the planet is thrown into panic. At this point the novel truly starts, we see both an Old Man and Unusual fall in love with a young black marketer, which clouds both of their judgement. Meanwhile, the “Friends” from Frolix 8 are approaching the planet at the side of Provoni, coming to support him in his quest for equality.
As a fan of Philip K Dick this was everything I expected, a wildly imaginative universe populated by flawed characters. The idea of this universe is not so ridiculous that it is impossible to imagine the action, even if it is set in two centuries time, yet it is clearly the future. Here are a couple of examples; alcohol is illegal, but opiates are not, private transport does fly, but require rubber wheels for ground movement. Dicks imagination is astounding, hence so many of his novels and short stories being adapted so effectively into film and TV. Whenever I mention him as a favourite author of mine I have to reel off a list of his most famous adaptions. If you like sci-fi he is the author for you, and this novel would be as good as any to start with.