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The Dispatcher by John Scalzi
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The Dispatcher

by John Scalzi

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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3333151,547 (3.76)58
One day, not long from now, it becomes almost impossible to murder anyone--999 times out of a thousand, anyone who is intentionally killed comes back. How? We don't know. But it changes everything: war, crime, daily life. Tony Valdez is a Dispatcher--a licensed, bonded professional whose job is to humanely dispatch those whose circumstances put them in death's crosshairs, so they can have a second chance to avoid the reaper. But when a fellow Dispatcher and former friend is apparently kidnapped, Tony learns that there are some things that are worse than death, and that some people are ready to do almost anything to avenge what they see as a wrong. It's a race against time for Valdez to find his friend before it's too late...before not even a Dispatcher can save him.--Jacket flap.… (more)
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What is the morality of murder when 999 out of 1000 murder victims return to life almost immediately in the condition they were in 20-30 hr prior to death? This investigation into the disappearance of a dispatcher - a person with literal license to kill, by a police officer and the associate who was called in to handle his most recent dispatch, explores the practical consequences of this reliably repeating miracle. ( )
  quondame | Sep 16, 2019 |
This was an odd one, but not in a bad way. Zachary Quinto narrated this (almost) chilling tale about death by murder not being permanent. Somehow someone stumbled upon this fact. Death by suicide, accident, natural causes are normal deaths. If a person is murdered, 99% of the time their murdered body disintegrates and they materialize in the place they are safest/happiest, e.g. home.

So of course with this new twist on death there comes a revenue stream and a new occupation. Dispatchers are basically licensed murderers. They work with the government and insurance companies. Dispatching a person who is in a surgery gone wrong saves the hospital and insurance company tons of money because the person is "dispatched" by a appointed dispatcher and they materialize back at home (in most cases) in the state they were in some hours prior to surgery. They still need the surgery, but now they have the added bonus of knowing what went wrong the first time and not making the same mistake twice.

So of course there is a private sector for rich people. And of course there always the chance of something going wrong, which happens in this tale. A dispatch goes wrong and then the dispatcher mysteriously goes missing. Now it's up to a fellow dispatcher and police officer to find out what happened and save the missing person before they die for real.

This was hella creepy and Quinto did a good job telling Scalzi's story. ( )
  Virago77 | Aug 23, 2019 |
This was a Kindleborrow from my friend Roni. Thanks, ol' buddy ol' pal!

Rating: 4* of five

The Publisher Says: One day, not long from now, it becomes almost impossible to murder anyone—999 times out of a thousand, anyone who is intentionally killed comes back. How? We don’t know. But it changes everything: war, crime, daily life.

Tony Valdez is a Dispatcher—a licensed, bonded professional whose job is to humanely dispatch those whose circumstances put them in death’s crosshairs, so they can have a second chance to avoid the reaper. But when a fellow Dispatcher and former friend is apparently kidnapped, Tony learns that there are some things that are worse than death, and that some people are ready to do almost anything to avenge what they see as a wrong.

It’s a race against time for Valdez to find his friend before it’s too late…before not even a Dispatcher can save him.

My Review: There is nothing quite so satisfying as an idea that exactly fits into its chosen format. Subterranean Press, genre-publishing monadnock for almost a quarter century, will make novellas available in hardcover, will collect the stories of genre-famous writers that ordinary houses wouldn't deign to notice (eg, [[Elizabeth Bear]] , whose collected short work is coming soon), will do all this with style and elegance and attention to quality unrivaled in modern publishing. This novella is no exception. Its limited edition, illustrated by Vincent Chong, whose work you should *definitely* go look at, is sold out; its trade edition is sold out; the ebook is available, and it's got the lovely illustrations scaled for your ereader's screen.

It ain't the Real Thing, but it's darn good.

Scalzi's story here is uniquely his, the way only he could re-fashion the story of unexplained resurrection. The dead coming back...but only if they died by misadventure (a politer way of saying "got murdered)...has no obvious explanation. Scalzi doesn't supply one. Arguments about why the murdered or otherwise killed before their body's natural death are endless. And the return itself becomes bureaucratized at the behest of insurance companies and governments. Of course. This is humanity we're talking about.

But in that larger, sadder framework, Author Scalzi's made stories of what the ordinary people caught in extraordinary circumstances will do. Must do. Crave the miracle? It's yours...but!

Why's there always a "but"? Dunno...but the "but" here is there are loopholes and limitations like there always are in bureaucracies. Why these should apply on a quantum level will keep religions in business and still reduce the murder rate by a large fraction. If someone is determined to murder someone else, there's always a way. It's a horrible way, but it works, and if you hate someone enough to murder them, its awfulness won't bother you.

A further "but" involves the revolting kind of human being who will pay to see men slaughter each other. Anyone who's read or seen [Altered Carbon] will recognize the Meth's entertainment of causing, watching, lusting after sleeve-death. This resurrection, of the actual personal body of the slain (albeit a certain number of hours younger than it was at the time of death), precludes Morgan's convenient stack-death or Neo-Catholic prohibition on being spun back up. It means the resurrected knows who killed them. It means the resurrected can identify a murderer. Unsurprisingly this drops the manslaughter rate. Can't charge someone with a crime, though, since the victim isn't dead. Assault maybe...but!

Then there are people whose bodies are slowly betraying them, who need surgeries and/or treatments that might cause death. Imagine how that's going to affect the surgeons. Insurance companies meddle enough in the quest to avoid paying out on their policies. Now there are Dispatchers (why the capital D, for goodness's sake?) whose sole job it is to finish killing a dying patient so they'll wake up in a pre-trauma state of health, no worse for the surgery that killed them. This is where we meet Tony. He Dispatches an old man who didn't survive heart surgery. He faces down an angry surgeon and a hospital staff pissed at him but without recourse because the money says this is what has to happen.

And *then* it gets weird.

Tony's friend and fellow Dispatcher Jimmy is missing. There's nary a lead in this disappearance; well, there's a hint that Jimmy might've been involved in some morally dark grey/legally light grey Dispatchings. Things that Tony was also involved in once upon a time. In fact, Jimmy got his start in the grey areas with Tony. Who better to help the Chicago Police Department investigate?

Tony's recruited, much against his will, to assist the police with their inquiries. Jimmy's wife spews hate and venom all over Tony for those problems from the past, and even threatens to run him down if she can since he'll just wake up naked in his own bed. The cop looks calmly on, resumes questioning, and the thread that Jimmy's wife accidentally picks out of the cloth of her marriage is the one that ultimately leads to the solution of a terrible, vile crime, the restoration of the scales of justice, and the end of the first episode.

Say what now? You see, the eight chapters in here constitute an excellent two-hour pilot script for a TV series I'd watch the hell out of. I like Tony, his policelady partner-in-crime, and the Chicago they inhabit. It's the kind of light entertainment that leads to much deeper thought and discussion if one's so inclined. How does the quantum field know someone's murdered? How would gawd justify allowing some to die, like by stupid accidents and illness, but allow the murdered to return, to get a second chance? What kind of crap laws will make it onto the books to ensure the rich stay rich and the banksters get their vig?

Pick it up, FX! Buy it now, TBS! This could, in modestly competent hands, be a water-cooler series. The nudity precludes Fox, The CW, CBS, NBC, or ABC from taking it on, but it's basic-cable ready. It's not quite highbrow enough for Prime or Netflix, and I want nothing good to happen to Disney+ because if y'all think Amazon's evil go do some research on the Reedy Creek MUD in Orlando. Dig a little into Anas Abdin's plagiarism claims over Star Trek: Discovery. These scumbags...

Well, never mind, I'm gonna leave it here with a rousing exhortation to go get you a copy of this delightful short read. Then let's all holler until someone in LaLaLand hears and obeys the injunction to film, film, film! ( )
1 vote richardderus | Aug 9, 2019 |
Amazing Audible narration by Zachary Quinto saves an otherwise mundane short story by John Scalzi.

In The Dispatcher, we have a world where a unique phenomenon has arisen: people who have been murdered come back to life. No one knows why this has begun to happen, but "dispatchers" have been to assist in saving the life of those who are near death by "killing" them, which would allow them to come back to life.

The main character, Tony, is a Dispatcher who is called on to assist the police in finding a Dispatcher who has gone missing. The Story then becomes a whodunit to find the Dispatcher and the person responsible for his disappearance.

The story never really reaches a climax, and I found that I never really cared about what happened to the missing Dispatcher. The characters aren't very well developed, and the most fascinating part of the story, murdered people who come back toife, is never really explored. ( )
  BlackAsh13 | Aug 1, 2019 |
The Dispatcher is a novella that I got free from audible. It is about a world where people that are murdered are mysteriously and immediately brought back to life in their own home. No one understands why this happens, and it did not always happen that way. One consequence of this is that people who are severely hurt or on the brink of dying from natural causes hire dispatchers to murder them so they will wake up in their own bed back in the condition they were in before something injured them or caused them to die. In this novella, a dispatcher has disappeared and the police detective recruits another dispatcher to help investigate the disappearance. It was an interesting mystery and an interesting concept. If you need explanations for the premise, you will be disappointed. The characters were OK and the mystery was OK. The thing I enjoyed most, though, was the what if aspect of the world and how being dispatched affected the way things were done. ( )
  Cora-R | Jul 31, 2019 |
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
John Scalziprimary authorall editionscalculated
Quinto, ZacharyNarratormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Studios, AudiblePublishersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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