by Frederik Pohl, 248 pages
This one wasn't quite as good as the last Pohl good, and suffered most in both credibility and engagement for its main premise. To an extent it felt like Pohl puttering about with his story, setting up a skeleton plot and then a lot of character quirks and entertaining incidents to relate. The story works by the measure of being consistently engaging, having a great deal of energy that push one to feel with the characters and then follow them through to the end.
The main SF device only got real resolution too late in the story, but the characters were strong enough to carry through that. The main picture of a society in internal tension and with fear of complete collapse was convincing, but felt a bit too close to the present day (as of time of publication) to be truly effective. This misses being great by a considerable margin and there are things about the conclusion and the main plot that I found frustrating. In the end, though, I read it with fairly rapt attention, and on the ultimate perceptual level this book succeeded.
Better than: The Years of the City by Frederik Pohl
Worse than: Lucifer’s Hammer by Larry Niven