Copyright 1955 by
I first read this in 1968 and most recently on the 4th May 2011
Mind Control for the Masses
It's started so gently and with the best of motives.
A simple mind conditioning treatment, an aversion therapy, is applied to criminals. When the kleptomaniac reaches out his hand to seize a purse the conditioning kicks in and he feels bad, sad and scared. He fails to complete his attempted theft. When the violent bruiser raises his fists to strike he quakes like a little boy and drops his arms.
Predictably it began to be applied to smaller misdemeanours, and then simply to unsociable acts. As it becomes pervasive, it becomes profoundly dangerous but by then it's too late.
Our society changes beyond recognition. In this new world, we are all conditioned. We all have our little angels to guide our every step and we are bent to the wheel of our rulers. Almost all, that is. There are one or two whose angels seem absent. One or two who are possessed by demons.
Arthur is one of those. He's fighting his demons day after day because if he ever slips, he'll die.
This was one of the favourite books from my youth. Partly I admit because of the quality of the physical paperback itself. The slim volume was heavier, the cover stiffer and the paper smoother than normal. You knew this was an important book. And indeed it was. That weighty compactness plus Damon Knight's excellent story-telling left an impression of quality in my mind. It's an excellent moral fable with enough high adventure to keep a young man happy. I loved it.
Loaded on the 22nd April 2012.