Review: The Two Faces of Tomorrow

The Two Faces of Tomorrow - James P. Hogan

I didn’t read the synopsis for this book until after I had read the book.  I’m glad I didn’t, because the synopsis pretty much sums up the first third of the book.  Where’s the fun in that?

After I had read a few pages, my initial thought was that this was going to be a “computers take over the world” type of book.  It wasn’t quite like that.  I had been on the right track, but I was pleasantly surprised to see the characters show some common sense and forethought.  In stories where technology has run amok, it usually seems like there’s at least one stupid or blindly ambitious character behind the problem who failed to consider the possible consequences of what they were creating.  This story was different.  Those potential consequences were thought about, discussed, and debated.  And then the characters came up with a way to scientifically prove whether or not their theories were correct while minimizing the risks.  I also thought the ending took a unique approach for a type of story that has, in its basic form, been done many times before.  (And, since this book was published in 1979, has been done many times since.)

If I had read the synopsis, I probably would have been bored by the first third of the book because it did take quite a while to develop.  But, since I didn’t know what it was developing to, it held my interest well.  I enjoyed figuring out where the story was going, learning about the interesting computer systems that had been developed, and wondering what they would do about the dilemma that was threatening to halt forward progress.  However, I thought the second third of the book dragged a little bit and I found my attention wandering more often.

Toward the last 25 to 33%, the action started to build up and the story began holding my attention again, and I was happy with how the story ended.  Despite the fact that this is an older book, I didn’t find it too terribly dated.  There was an older feel to it, but nothing that really pulled me out of the story and distracted me.  I liked the characters well enough, and I thought they seemed pretty realistic, but I never felt all that much of an attachment to them.