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Missing Man by Katherine MacLean
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Missing Man (1975)

by Katherine MacLean

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Series: Rescue Squad (omnibus 1,2,3)

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872212,097 (3.44)3
George Sanford has a gift for guessing right the first time and very little else going for him. When Ahmed and his other friends graduate school and got jobs in The City, George finds himself left behind. He never wanted to sign his name, let alone fill out applications and reports.Then George bumps into the Rescue Squad and is swept up in the excitement of a hunt for a trapped girl. It is George who finds her with his special talent for guessing right ... and it is George who suddenly becomes the pride of the Rescue Squad. With a friend running interference for him with the bureaucracy, George lands a place for himself as a "consultant" - and the more he works, the more his strange talents grow.With each success George begins to change. Using his special talents to rescue a computer technician from a gang of revolutionaries, he finds he has become a pawn in a mad iconoclastic game. A game where his own talents pose the greatest threat to The City - and the world… (more)

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Some interesting speculative ideas, some nice interpersonal scenes, some awful info dumps, unconvincing motivations... the usual hodgepodge in 1970's SF. The original novella won a Nebula which says a lot about how far SF writing has come.

New York City has broken up into immigrant enclaves, at an uneasy truce with each other. There are also a few underwater dome cities, but they seem to exist primarily for plot purposes. The core SF idea is one that Campbell may have provided, as was his habit: people in trouble give off vibes that affect the behavior of the people around them. The Rescue Squad uses empaths and incident statistics to triangulate and locate such people. All this is explained in the aforementioned info-dumps.

The story follows the development of George Sanford, a very strong empath with fairly weak social and critical reasoning skills -- almost a Lenny to his friend Ahmed's George. Though told primarily from George's point of view, a lot of his backstory and motivations are not revealed until fairly late. Most of the plot, politics, philosophy and science are clumsily presented, but there are enough nicely done human-sized set pieces to make the book overall worth a quick read. ( )
  ChrisRiesbeck | Jun 24, 2013 |
http://nhw.livejournal.com/213781.html

This book, published in 1975, is a fix-up of three stories published in Analog between 1968 and 1971 featuring psychic detective George Sandford, the last of which won a Nebula. The setting is remarkable - New York in a world recovering from environmental catastrophe, where there is much greenery and derelict buildings (and vulnerable underwater suburbs), and significant social control in return for quality of life. Sandford's somewhat seedy character and his feelings of blurred identity when he tries to read the minds of criminals (or their victims) are quite vivid. It is reminiscent of Alfred Bester, Philip K Dick and John Brunner. MacLean was obviously a pretty talented author who simply didn't produce as much as the other three; the only other story by her I remember reading is "The Snowball Effect", about the small town sewing circle that takes over the world. ( )
  nwhyte | Oct 19, 2005 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Katherine MacLeanprimary authorall editionscalculated
Powers, Richard M.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Ich war unterwegs zum Arbeitsamt in der Oberstadt.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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This is the fix-up novel 'Missing Man'. Please don't combine with the novella 'The Missing Man'.
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Expanded version of the Nebula Award-winning novella The Missing Man, published in Analog (March, 1971).
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