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 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
The first two-thirds of the book is an interesting story originally published as The Unteleported Man. It’s set in 2014. As a solution to Earth’s overcrowding humans have built unsuccessful colonies on the Moon and Mars before they discover an Earth-like planet eighteen lightyears away. This planet can be reached by a teleportation device in only fifteen minutes, but unfortunately it’s a one-way trip.
Millions emigrate there, but Rachmael ben Applebaum suspects that the messages from the planet, claiming how perfect the new settlement is, are faked. He decides to travel eighteen lightyears in his space freighter to find out the truth.
After this we have one-hundred pages of LSD-inspired craziness which Dick wrote as a part two that was inserted into the original story. If you’re wondering why Rachmael is suddenly at the settlement on Whale’s Mouth this is why. It’s fun to read as a lot of Dick’s drug-fueled paranoid visions are, but ultimately it has nothing to do with the end of the book. Rachmael returns just as suddenly to his freighter for the conclusion which wraps up the Unteleported Man story.
Cast of characters
Rachmael ben Applebaum – son of Maury Applebaum who founded the now-defunct Applebaum enterprises
Freya Holm – employee of Lies, Inc. assigned to protect Rachmael
Theodoric Ferry – chairman of the board of THL
Matson Glazer-Holliday – owner of Lies, Inc.
Dr. Sepp von Einem – while financed by THL, he built the teleportation device capable of sending humans to Whale’s Mouth in only fifteen minutes
Herr Horst Berthold – Secretary General of the UN
Al Dosker – pilot provided by Lies, Inc. to get the Omphalos off of its hiding place on Luna and on its way to Whale’s Mouth
The Weevils (Shiela Quam, Hank Szantho, Miss de Rungs, Gretchen Borbman) – the group, all supposedly sick with Telpor Syndrome and waiting to be cured, that Rachmael finds himself a part of when he gets to Whale’s Mouth
Gregory Arnold Gloch – former UN wep-x technician. Defected to THL. Described as “being out of phase in time”
Other things to know
Lies, Incorporated – Listening Instructional Educational Services. Some sort of police agency
Applebaum Enterprises – company that provides travel on space freighters. Rendered obsolete after Dr. Einem built his teleportation device
THL – Trails of Hoffman Limited. They sell Dr. Einem’s Telepor construct at retail stores on Earth
Whale’s Mouth – the Earth-like ninth planet of the Fomalhaut system. Eighteen light years away
Omphalos – Applebaum Enterprises sole remaining space freighter
The True and Complete Economic and Political History of Newcolonizedland by Dr. Bloode – a multi-edition book on Whale’s Mouth that can somehow predict the future I think… not entirely certain