In Martian Time-Slip, Jack Bohlen, a service repairman on Mars, crosses paths with Arnie Kott, a big man on the planet who is struggling to maintain his standing as the UN pushes for new regulations.
In this phildickian future of 1994 we learn the frightening statistic that one out of six people suffers from some form of schizophrenia. We also learn that someone with autism is trapped in a world they perceive as moving so quickly they can see into the future. Amid rumors of the UN’s interest in some Martian land for new settlements, Kott schemes to use Bohlen (a ‘former’ schizophrenic) and Bohlen’s connection to his young autistic neighbor Manfred to get a jumpstart on the competition and claim the land for himself.
This book is one of my favorites. The description of Jack’s first schizophrenic episode as a young man is terrifying, as is the entropic, “gubble gubble” world of Manfred as it encroaches into the minds of everyone around him.
Along with Dick’s ideas concerning autism, nothing about the planet in Martian Time-Slip suggests an attempt at rigorous science. PKD’s Mars features flowing water (although it’s scarce), breathable air and an indigenous population of natives called Bleekmen who were on the planet when Earth colonists arrived.
In the hard science fiction novel Red Mars, Kim Stanley Robinson named the 39.5 minutes of non-time between midnight and 12:01 when the clocks are stopped on Mars in order to simulate an even 24-hour day the ‘Martian time-slip’ as an homage to Dick’s book.
Cast of characters
- Jack Bohlen – our protagonist. A service repairman on Mars
- Silvia Bohlen – Jack’s wife
- David Bohlen – Jack’s son
- Leo Bohlen – Jack’s father. A land speculator from Earth
- Mr. Yee – Jack’s employer
- Arnie Kott – president of the Water Workers’ Local
- Anne Esterhazy – Arnie’s ex-wife. Circulates a political newsletter for women
- Norbert Steiner – Jack’s neighbor and dealer in black-market food
- Otto Zitte – a black marketeer
- Manfred Steiner – Norbert’s autistic son in Camp B-G for anomalous children
- Dr. Glaub – a psychotherapist
- Doreen Anderton – Arnie Kott’s mistress and Jack’s lover