Theme: Mutants

The World Jones Made published 1956

I was surprised I enjoyed rereading The World Jones Made, since I don’t remember thinking too much of it the first time around. Maybe I’ve built up a tolerance for Dick’s writing which has never been particularly great.*

The World Jones Made
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Jones, a precog who can see one year into the future, is an interesting character in a world ruled by relativism where all absolute thought, in an effort to stamp out extremism and war, is forbidden. With his apparent proof of certainty, Jones becomes a demagogue, whipping his followers into a frenzy against the threat of amoeba-like aliens that have started to land on Earth. When it turns out these alien drifters are mostly harmless, something Jones didn’t initially know with his limited view into the future, he martyrs himself so as to blame his death on the relativists before he would have been exposed as a fraud.

The book’s two storylines don’t come together very well. The mutants being engineered to survive on Venus don’t have much to do with what is going on with Jones, but even Dick admitted the book would have been stronger if he had found a way to tie those two threads together.

*for example: moist skin, moist ground, moist legs, moist sack (don’t ask), moist car (how?), moist skin (again), moist breath, moist fog, moist atmosphere, moist hay, moist lips, moist lips (again) and moist air.

Cast of characters

  • Floyd Jones – a precog who can see exactly one year into the future although he lacks the ability to change the future when it happens
  • Louis, Frank, Vivian, Garry, Dieter, Irma, Syd – mutants engineered to survive on Venus who live in a moist refuge in San Francisco
  • Doctor Rafferty – oversees the refuge
  • Doug Cussick – member of the secret service
  • Nina – Cussick’s wife
  • Pearson – security director of the Baltimore secret service
  • Max Kaminski – Cussick’s senior political instructor
  • Hyndshaw – a traveling salesman who picks up Jones when he is hitchhiking
  • Tyler Fleming – a young member of the secret service

Rating:

Our Friends from Frolix 8 published 1970

In the far-off future mankind has evolved. The New Men are those with bigger brains and a greater intellect, while the Unusuals are mutants with psionic abilities. These two groups form a loosely-aligned ruling class who oppress the unevolved Old Men just struggling to get by. But don’t forget about the Under Men! They follow the writings of Eric Cordon and rebel against the whole class imbalance while waiting for Thors Provoni to return from outer space with some kind of help to free them from the tyrannical rule.

Our Friends from Frolix 8
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Our Friends from Frolix 8 is about as middle of the road as you can get with Dick’s minor works. I remembered almost nothing about it before I reread it. It’s redeemed by the oddball telepath and supreme leader of Earth Willis Gram, but only somewhat, and if you replaced sad-sack Nick Appleton with the protagonist from a dozen of Dick’s other stories you probably wouldn’t notice a difference.

Cast of characters

  • Nick Appleton – our protag. He’s employed as a tire regroover, an odd profession since the squibs in the book are flying vehicles
  • Bobby Appleton – Nick’s son
  • Kleo Appleton – Nick’s wife
  • Thors Provoni – left Earth to look for help in the far reaches of outer space
  • Willis Gram – Council Chairman of the Extraordinary Committee for Public Safety (Unusual)
  • Lloyd Barnes – the police director (New Man)
  • Eric Cordon – Under Man organizer and propaganda writer
  • Earl Zeta – Nick’s boss (Under Man)
  • Charlotte Boyer – a sixteen-year-old Under Man girl who gets involved with Nick
  • Denny – Charlotte’s boyfriend (Under Man)
  • Morgo Rahn Wilc – the Frolixan friend who accompanies Thors Provoni back to Earth
  • Amos Ild – one of the world’s smartest New Men

Rating:

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