Friday, October 25, 2013

Book Review: The Crack in Space

I picked up this Philip K Dick book at my local library. It was passable, with some fun bits to it, but the highlight to me was looking at 50-year old futurism  (it was written in '66) and thinking about where the author got it wrong vs not.

The Crack in Space is takes place in a not-too-distant future, where an overpopulated earth has dealt with unemployment and overpopulation by putting people into suspended animation until another planet can be found to go colonize. When a repairman looking at a disfunctional transporter discovers a crack in space that leads to another Earth-like world, the problem may be solved. But of course, it's never as easy as that.

The book, like much 1960's sci-fi, deals with space travel, alternate histories, and other themes that were then de rigeur. There are elements of Planet of the Apes, Soylent Green, etc, etc. Even a little free-love thrown in via a giant floating space-brothel.

The story was passable, though perhaps a little predictable. There were some fun characters thrown in there, and a couple unique twists on the above themes.

On the negative side, there were a few things that broke the immersion (over-focusing on racism themes, characters focused on trivialities in the face of massive-scale events, etc).

A highlight for me though, was looking at the then-forward looking view of the future and where it got it wrong. e.g. He foresaw the global nature of satellite TV broadcasts (then a very new thing), but had the character getting up to turn the channel knob on the TV. Or he saw dynamically updated, animated e-newspapers, but they were still distributed the same way and followed the same biz model.

In any case, it was this stuff that gave me pause to think about our own present-day futurism and where we might be getting it wrong.

The Crack in Space