I put this book on hold at the library a while ago when I realized I’d never actually read anything by Philip K. Dick. I figured a book of short stories would be a good start, but I managed to misread the record. (An aside: I would never do that now! My first library science class has taught me more than you ever wanted to know about every field in a catalog record, and I’ve only had eight hours of class so far.) I’m kind of glad I did — this may be just one story, but it’s presented as a top-bound notebook like those I used for reporting. I felt really cool sitting around flipping pages super-quickly for an hour, and you will, too!
Hanyway. I’ve not seen all of the movie version of this (just the beginning and the creepy part with the eyeball), but Scott says this book is nothing like it. John Anderton is the commissioner of the pre-crime unit, which, like other government departments, uses psychic “idiots” to see the future. People who are seen committing crimes — from felony to murder — are brought in and contained before they can do the deed. On the day when Anderton’s new assistant, whom Anderton is training to take over the department eventually, arrives, Anderton’s own name shows up on a punch card as the murderer of a guy he doesn’t even know. Anderton, thinking new guy is framing him, decides to undermine the system by running away and hiding for a week, but before he can he is kidnapped by the guy he’s meant to kill and has a reader-headache-inducing couple of days before figuring out the plot and making things right.
That’s right, headache-inducing. Dick doesn’t dick around (hah! I’m so witty) with much exposition past the idea of pre-crime; after spending a few pages on that suddenly Anderton is figuring out things left and right and is like, “This is the truth! No, this is, for some reason I may or may not tell you later!” and you’re like, “Buh?” and Dick’s like, “Hahahahaha.” Srsly. But in the end you sort of get it and then you write your congressperson a long letter against the use of mentally retarded people (no, really) as psychic crime-stoppers because it would confuse you. Or something.