Thanks to overpopulation, most people live only one day out of seven, spending the rest in suspended animation. But one man is both an immer, with a seven-fold lifespan, and a daybreaker, living every day in a different role.
I’ve noted before that I encountered Philip Jose Farmer via Riverworld, which I thought was (mostly) a great feat of imagination. When the opportunity arose, I acquired a lot of Farmer novels. I started reading them with the World of Tiers series I’d heard of years before. I was sorely disappointed – all of Riverworld‘s flaws were greatly exaggerated, and new ones added.
Dayworld is a point midway between the two. Farmer gets carried away and self-indulgent (especially on sex and pop-culture), but the story and character are interesting enough to carry through. It’s all a little easy, but to his credit, while the premise is thin, Farmer has thought through some of the mechanics. At the same time, he’s trying to throw too much into the story – stasis, division into day worlds, immers, and a multiple personality issue which seems to develop as the story progresses (in the sense that he made it up as he went along). It’s a decent book that might have been a good one with a firm editorial hand. The book doesn’t end in any satisfying way, so it’s not a functional standalone novel other than as an exploration of the concept – but not in terms of narrative arc or character development.
It’s also odd in that, despite being based on a short-story, Farmer apparently feels the need for a long authorial introduction explaining the concept before the book’s even begun. I’m not sure why – the book would work well enough without it, and the information would have worked better as an afterword.
12 April 2018 Science fiction | Philip Jose Farmer | Dayworld |