Dayworld - Philip José Farmer

***** Brilliant dystopia of other times

I’m not wild about contemporary dystopian novels, but lately I started to appreciate this sub-genre of science fiction when it comes to books of a few decades ago, destined to become classics. The inevitable anachronism of certain elements of the plot gives “Dayworld” by Farmer a special charm and originality that I can hardly see in the most recent stories.
Specifically, one of the topics of this novel is suspended animation, which is described from a different angle than the usual one for which this technology is assumed to be used in the future: to deal with overpopulation. Since there are too many people in the world, it is decided to let them live only one day a week, reducing to one-seventh the number of active individuals on the planet. This crazy idea is the basis of the story of Jeff Caird, a “daybreaker”, i.e. a person who, instead of living one day per week, lives them all, by taking seven different identities. And here immediately a second brilliant element comes up: Caird changes his name, life, but also personality every day. Each of its seven versions is a distinct character, which is also obvious to the reader, and it’s even hard to him to “connect” with his other versions.
As if that was not enough to have a main character who lives on the brink of madness because of the presence of seven personalities in his head, Caird (and the others) is a rebel of the Dayworld system and he ends up rebelling against those who want to overthrow the system, too. And for this reason he risks to be killed, revealing that neither side is really “good”.
The structure of the book, in which the many facets of the protagonist are shown to you one after another, is a perfect mechanism, which still manages to engage the reader, despite the constant changes in point of view.
In addition, although more than thirty years have passed after the original publication of this novel, it holds well the passage of time. Anachronisms are not excessive and sometimes could also be seen as a natural regression.
There are amazing and exciting action scenes, totally unpredictable developments including the ending, which it is impossible to predict.
Overall it’s a really good book, the first in a trilogy that promises to be very enjoyable.

Dayworld on Amazon.