First published in the 1960s, Spinrad was one of the first writers to perceive the totalitarian implications of the cradle-to-grave welfare state. But at the same time he was too organically a radical ever to be confused with a conservative. Result: "Agent of Chaos!"
Boris Johnson thinks he wants democracy. But in the course of his adventures he discovers that democracy to him means freedom. It's a banned concept from the Millennium of Religion. Like God.
He finds himself dealing with a byzantine political situation worthy of anything from the banned past. The dictatorship is the Hegemony. Opposition is provided by the aptly named agents of C.H.A.O.S. Meanwhile, the Brotherhood of Assassins plays a game that no one can fathom. Whose side are they on? Whose fool are you?
Spinrad explores his philosophical theme in a manner all too rare in contemporary science fiction. The problem is that Order will always try to eliminate any random factors. By its very nature, it encourages opposition and that feeds the forces of chaos. But chaos has built in problems as well. Its victories cannot help but feed the forces of reaction, of order. The heroes in this novel ultimately opt for personal freedom. The villains try to establish a dictatorship over the very nature of reality itself.
And then Spinrad throws in the discovery of aliens. A starship sets forth to meet them, the Prometheus. The Hegemony doesn't like that.
Norman Spinrad (born 1940) is a science fiction icon and the author of more than twenty novels which have been translated into over a dozen languages. His 1969 novel, Bug Jack Barron, was nominated for the Hugo and Nebula Awards and his short fiction collection, The Star-Spangled Future, was a National Book Award finalist. He has also written screenplays for American television series, including the original Star Trek. He lives in New York.
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