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204 pages, Paperback
First published January 1, 1961
”A priest? You turned me over to Major Erms! You only wear a cassock to hide the uniform!”
“And do you only a wear a body to hide the skeleton? Try to understand. I am hiding nothing. You say I betrayed you. But everything here is illusion: betrayal, treason, even omniscience - for omniscience is not only impossible, but quite unnecessary when its counterfeit suffices, a fabrication of stray reports, allusions, words mumbled in one’s sleep or retrieved from the latrines… It is not omniscience but the faith in that matters.”
So . . . I had considered myself the center of the universe, the bull's-eye, so to speak, for all the slings and arrows the Building had to offer—and all along I was nothing, just one of a series, another copy, a stereotype, trembling in all the places my predecessors trembled, repeating like a record player exactly the same words, feelings, thoughts. My melodramatic actions, the sudden impulses, false starts, surprises, moments of inspiration, each successive revelation—all of it, chapter and verse, including this present moment, was in the instructions—no longer my instructions, they weren't made for me . . . So if this was neither a test nor a Mission, nor chaos—what was left? ... Were they all crazy? Were they out to make me crazy too? Then everything would be fine, for if everyone's crazy, no one's crazy . . . But where was it all heading? (124)5 stars out of 5. Yeah, it's a little bit juvenile, mostly goofy, and very over-the-top. And the whole "paper blight" introduction didn't really need to be there. But if you think about it you'll realize it's really a secretly coded message about life and living in an over-informed, media-saturated society (I swear). And all that stuff is right up my alley.