Truth Machine

James L. Halperin, Author Del Rey Books $4.99 (321p) ISBN 978-0-345-41056-6
What would the world be like if scientists developed the perfect lie detector? How would it change our criminal justice system? Psychiatric practice? International diplomacy? In his first novel, Halperin argues that such an invention could lead humanity into an era of unequaled prosperity, one in which crime is virtually unknown and true democracy is possible. A professional numismatist and a member of the World Future Society, Halperin is a relatively unskilled novelist. His prose is at best workmanlike, and his plotting and character development tend toward the simplistic. Nearly all of his major characters, from millionaire-genius protagonist Pete Armstrong on down, seem to be either the smartest, the richest, the most respected or the most influential people in the world. The traditional qualities of fiction are apparently of only secondary interest to the author, however. As a futurist, Halperin seems primarily concerned with suggesting innovations and then working out their implications over half a century. Heavily didactic, but supporting positions across the political spectrum, the book argues in favor of mandatory capital punishment for certain crimes, the privatization of schools, strict limits on insurance settlements, the elimination of the FAA, the legalization of assisted suicide, parental licensing and the establishment of a world government. Although crude from a literary point of view, Halperin's novel is not without strengths. His speculations about the next 50 years are fascinating, and the consequences of the truth machine are well worked out. In the final analysis, it's hard to believe that Halperin's near-utopian future could be so easily attained, but it would be nice to live there. 150,000 first printing; six-figure ad/promo; author tour; U.K. rights sold. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/02/1996
Release date: 09/01/1996
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FORMATS
Mass Market Paperbound - 395 pages - 978-0-345-41288-1
Mass Market Paperbound - 978-0-345-41458-8
Paperback - 978-0-9651041-0-4
Mass Market Paperbound - 978-0-517-30046-6
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