Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Thursday, March 16, 2023


Time to Teleport by Gordon R. Dickson (expanded from "No More Barriers," Science Fiction Stories, September 1955; first published as an Ace paperback double, bound with Dickson's The Genetic General, 1960; reprinted as an Ace paperback omnibus with Dickson's Delusion World, 1981; firsr separate publication [as an e-book], 2011; the original source story has not been reprinted)

After sectionalism threatened to end the human race, mankind took the extraordinary step to reorganize the race into Groups -- some 128 of them -- based not on national origin, regionalism, or political philosophies, but on careers.  Each group cut across territorial boundaries, and each was dependent in one way or another on the other groups.  Many of the larger, more powerful groups naturally subsumed smaller ones, leaving a dozen or so major Groups -- Transportation, Communications, Undersea Domes, and so on.  This type of organization brought about worldwide peace for eighty years.  But all things -- and all political systems -- must come to an end.  Mankind had boxed itself in:  eighty years of peace without external challenges has led to stagnation, with no meaningful scientific progress.

Eli Johnstone is the Spokesman for the Underseas Group and perhaps the most influential man on the planet.   Johnstone serves a buffer between Transportation Spokesman Anthony Sellars and his ambition to control the entire world.  Johnstone can see the usefulness of the Groups coming to an end, as well as the chaos that will bring.  He had never wanted to be thrust into a political role and has decided to resign to pursue a personal agenda.  This decision could well bring about the chaos much earlier than expected.

For the past few decades there has been a loose, fringe group forming, calling itself Members of Humanity.  This group advocates moving the human race ahead through evolutionary means, speeded by scientific experimentation.  Their basic tenet is that mankind has latent psychic powers that must be developed.  One of the leaders of Members of Humanity is Eli Johnstone's unacknowledged half-brother.  Although not common knowledge, the Members of Humanity have proven that psychic powers exist, but have thus far been unable to control them.

Johnstone meanwhile is undergoing a top secret experimental procedure that may bring about virtual immortality -- the replacement of all bodily organs with synthetically grown ones.  While Johnstone is undergoing these operations, Sellars makes his move, inciting the Groups to move violently against Members of Humanity, executing many.  Sellars has also ordered the execution of Johnstone and the unknown assassin is a trusted member of Johnstone's medical team. 

An ambitous and somewhat muddled tale with a flawed premise, Time to Teleport was an early novel by the prolific Gordon R. Dickson (1923-2001).  (Today the novel would be better classified as a novella.)  Dickson went on to win three Hugo Awards and one Nebula Award and was inducted into the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame in 2000.  He also won the August Derleth Award from the British Fantasy Society for his novel The Dragon and the George.  His best-known works may be the Childe Series (also known as the Dorsai series -- a philosophiocal military future history), the Dragon series of nine fantasy novels, and the Hoka series of humorous tales written with his friend Poul Anderson.   His books cover a wide variety of science fictional and fantasy themes and styles and are eminently readable.  Time to Teleport is also a readable tale, but is slight compared to much of his later work. 

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