John Brunner started his career as a productive writer of Ace Double Science Fiction novels, sometimes writing both sides of the same double. He produced a wide variety of entertaining and well-conceived science fiction adventures before testing his ambitions with more and more complex and stylistically sophisticated novels. Brunner also wrote mysteries, thrillers, and several well-regarded historical novels.
Toggle navigation. New to eBooks. How many copies would you like to buy? The Jagged Orbit by John Brunner. Add to Cart Add to Cart. Waiting for the evaluation, he moved on to other subjects. The mere idea of attacking the Gottschalks seemed to have restored him to complete normality, and he tabbed items old and new with assurance.
Mark for maximum detail and use when the reading breaks eighty in favor; so far, only seventy-two.
The Jagged Orbit is a science fiction novel by British writer John Brunner. It is similar to his earlier novel Stand on Zanzibar in its narrative style and dystopic. The Jagged Orbit book. Read 53 reviews from the world's largest community for readers. Matthew Flamen, the last of the networks' spoolpigeons, is despera.
The refugees converging on Kuala Lumpur must be being culled according to a preset plan requiring reduction of their number by at least two-thirds and not as official releases would have it by division into loyalists and subversives. Reading eighty-eight in favor, hence usable today. But worth the risk of provoking an international incident? Who in the English-speaking world could give a damn about the fate of never mind how many people with brown skins speaking an alien language? While he was still hesitating over whether to use the item or keep it in reserve, an interruption.
Sixty-plus in favor of his being able to buy a code and unlock the Gottschalks' data bank at Iron Mountain. Estimated price between one and two million. That put it out of Flamen's orbit anyway—there wasn't enough cash in the informers' fund—but instantly his professional suspicions were alerted. On all the previous occasions he'd made that inquiry the computers had immediately rung up a no sale sign. Instinct told him the right question to ask next: are they planning to get along without that particular facility? Meanwhile, continuing: something big brewing among the X Patriots.
The routine reading carried him straight back to the Gottschalks and the superficial verdict that they were once more fomenting discontent among knee extremists to ensure good sales for their latest product among frightened blanks. But there was a secondary possibility only five points lower on the scale which caused him to finger his neat brown beard and frown. A breakthrough in the matter of Morton Lenigo? Rational judgment decreed that that was nonsensical. No immigration computer would conceivably issue Lenigo a visa after what he'd done in British cities like Manchester, Birmingham and Cardiff.
Nonetheless, for a reading which had been hovering in the middle forties for three years suddenly to jump into the high sixties was certainly a danger signal.
And it would be a hell of a story if it turned into a story at all! He flagged it for intensive evaluation and reverted to the Gottschalks. Yes, said his computers, the Gottschalks may very well be planning to dispense with Iron Mountain. They've been buying data-processing equipment in quantities too large to be explained away as tracking or range-finding systems. Logical conclusion: if they were thinking of opting out of Iron Mountain the sale of one of their access codes would be an on-the-side fund-raising venture and they'd sit back and laugh like hyenas when the gullible purchaser found how he'd been cheated.
Sometimes I hate the Gottschalks, Flamen thought, not so much for what they are as for what they think other people are. Nobody likes being treated as a myopic idiot. After some cogitation, he instructed his computers to look for three things: the site to which the Gottschalks were having all this equipment delivered, which would itself be illuminating; notice of any recent technical breakthrough which might lead to the marketing of a brand-new product; and every single clue, no matter how tenuous, regarding the current quarrel within the cartel.
Since there was absolutely no hope of anything turned up by such a blanket order being comped and usable by show-time today, he flagged the subject for overnight holding and turned back to immediately exploitable material. Rumor-trapping, like running after butterflies with a muslin net, was one of his chief professional talents, and that he was good at it was proved by his show having survived—mutilated, one had to concede, but the loss of a leg was better than being put in a shroud for cremation.
Nonetheless this patent truth did not greatly reassure him as he looked over the final selection of seven items, with three held in reserve against the risk of something being comped out at network HQ. Before making any kind of a charge against anybody his contract obliged him to let Holocosmic's own computers review the background data, and sometimes they downgraded a reading past the limit fixed by the firm which insured them against losing libel suits.
Recently about one item a week had been being rejected, far too many in Flamen's view; still, there were good reasons for suppressing the urge to complain. It was a lean harvest today. At least, though, he now knew he was going to have a show. It was safe to spend the time needed to ingest some breakfast. But the food tasted of ashes as he forced it down.
The mechanism of the flotabed was beginning to go home. It had been bought secondhand, and in any case even though it was a meter thirty wide it hadn't been designed for use as a double. So the first thing Lyla Clay was aware of on waking was that as usual she had remained rigid in her sleep to avoid the top left corner where the support was weakest, and by lying on her right arm had cut off its circulation. From elbow to fingertip it rang like a bell with the agony of returning sensation. Annoyed, she opened her eyes to find a man she didn't know grinning at her.
His lips were writhing in complete silence, but the implications of that did not at first strike her.
She was completely naked; however, she had no reason to be ashamed of her body, which was lean, youthful and evenly tanned, and the reflex left over from her somewhat old-fashioned childhood which impelled her to reach for a nonexistent blanket—the heater circuits of the bed, at least, were still working properly—ran foul of the stiffness of cramp. Anyhow, it wasn't the first time in her twenty years that she had woken up to find herself being admired by a man whose face and name were alike unknown to her.
Sexual "freedom" in post-industrial society is a consequence of the ever-increasing exploitation of the erotic in the service not of procreation but consumption: the eroticization of commodities. The planet had closed up like a weary clam and he, a starving starfish, lacked the strength to pry it open again. Draven, Grace. Hunter, Sylvia Izzo. Howard, Chris. I'll tell her about it.
Then the stranger dissolved in a shower of pink and purple snowflakes, and she remembered the vuset Dan and his friend Berry had trolleyed along the corridor from the elevator yesterday with so much sweating and cursing. They hadn't had a vuset in the apt before—only an ancient non-holographic TV which offered nothing more interesting than the three surviving 2-D satellite transmissions insisted on by the PCC. Since those were beamed primarily at India, Africa and Latin America, and she and Dan spoke neither Hindi, Swahili, nor more than a smattering of Spanish, they had seldom bothered to switch on unless they were orbiting.
Then, it didn't matter that the programs were chiefly concerned with latrine-digging, fish-traps and the recognition of epidemic disease symptoms—in fact, as Dan had once pointed out, if they'd had a plot of land to dig latrines in, the information might have come in useful next time the toilets were blocked.
She looked around for Dan and found him on the other side of the bed. Rozar in hand, he was feeling for a spot on the wall where the magnetized leech on the end of the flex could pick up some power, rather like a mainliner hunting for a usable patch of skin. He located a section where the induction wire was still uncorroded, the rozar hummed into life, and he set about making good the defects in his beard.
He was cursed with large round bald patches on both cheeks. A couple of heartbeats later the vuset miraculously reverted to proper synchronization. Beaming and gesticulating, the man in the screen resumed his unheard diatribe.