The Jagged Orbit

Jagged Orbit: book cover

I was slightly surprised to find this book still in print – my copy is about 30 years old and in remarkably good condition for a paperback. Extrapolating from the state of the world in the late 1960s, Brunner paints a picture of a paranoid world, fomented by weapons manufacturers, the Mafia-like Gottschalks, forever trying to increase sales.

Without trying to give away too much of the plot, unlike some of Brunner's darker works (The Sheep Look Up), this book has a relatively happy ending and left me feeling good, despite tensions from current events in my personal world.

For those with an interest in Artificial Intelligence, Brunner's concept of the "Desketary" draws to my mind Alicebot. One can speculate that Brunner was thinking of theEliza which, created in 1966, would have been around when he was writing this story. (I was playing around with Alicebot last year when thinking about software interfaces useable by people with learning disabilities; if I had a lot of time and nothing better to do, I might even try to create a "Desketary" interface.)

Conclusion: a classic piece of early-1970s British SciFi, or possibly ScoFi (social fiction) and a good introduction to Brunner before tackling larger, darker works like The Sheep Look Up.