The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Jack Bohlen is an immigrant to Mars living there with his family and working as a repairman for the Yee Company. He is assigned to do a small job for Arnie Kott, Supreme Goodmember of the Water Workers Local, Fourth Planet Branch. This assignment places Jack in the middle of a power struggle over a parcel of apparently worthless land that is to be developed by the United Nations.

Unlike Bohlen, Supreme Goodmember Kott is ruthlessly committed to the acquisition of power and material wealth at any cost. He uses people without hesitation or shame. He uses Dr. Glaub, a psychiatrist at the local camp for mentally disturbed children, to learn about a contemporary school of Swiss psychotherapists and their recently developed theory. They believe that autism and other forms of schizophrenia are caused by a discrepancy in the time sense of the sufferers. They believe that autistics and schizophrenics experience the world as running either much faster or much slower than do others. If their time is much faster, they would speed ahead into the future and get stuck there, isolated from the rest of humanity. From this vantage point, though imprisoned in their own heads, they might have special knowledge of the future. Establishing communication with such a person could be a profitable means of obtaining information.

Kott comes to believe that one particular autistic child, Manfred Steiner, not only is able to perceive time in this expanded fashion but also...

(The entire section is 477 words.)