The World Jones Made
Cover of first edition (paperback)
|Author||Philip K. Dick|
|Genre||Science fiction novel|
|Media type||Print (hardback & paperback)|
The World Jones Made is a 1956 science fiction novel by Philip K. Dick examining notions of precognition, humanity, and politics. It was first published by Ace Books as one half of Ace Double D-150, bound dos-à-dos with Agent of the Unknown by Margaret St. Clair.
The World Jones Made is set in the year 2002 AD. On a then-future post-apocalyptic Earth, there was a devastating conflict that involved the use of atomic weapons. Many American cities were targeted, and the People's Republic of China (and Soviet Union) also collapsed, leading to the imposition of a Federal World Government (Fedgov).
In this particular dystopia, Relativism emerged as the governing political orthodoxy. Relativism is said to be a moral and ethical philosophy that states everyone is free to believe what they wish, as long as they don't make anyone else try to follow that principle. Relativism has become established law after the destructiveness of the war unleashed by clashing ideologies. (However, dissidents from that orthodoxy do end up in forced labor camps). This sacrosanct principle is challenged by a man named Floyd Jones, whose assertions about the future prove correct.
Relativism enables legal consumption of drugs like heroin and marijuana, as well as watching live sex shows with hermaphrodite human mutants. Due to the mutagenic effects of radiation from wartime nuclear exchanges, mutants earn their living within the entertainment industry, although one group has been subjected to deliberate genetic engineering, which later enables them to settle (an inhabitable) Venus.
Doug Cussick is an agent of Fedgov, and his involvement with Jones encompasses this book. Jones has precognitive abilities that let him see a year into the future, which allows Dick to explore questions of predestination, free will and determinism.
Fedgov (and Jones) encounter apparently unintelligent alien lifeforms named Drifters, which turn out to be one gamete of a spore-based migratory alien life form. Their apparently pointless destruction leads to a retaliatory alien quarantine of the human race to a few nearby star systems. The presence of the Drifters in the story is to give Jones an initial rallying-point for all of his xenophobic followers as well as to demonstrate, in the context of ensuing events, that Jones is far more susceptible to error than he was previously willing to admit. His whole approach has been one of an all-or-nothing gamble on the infallibility of his precognitive powers.
Jones foresees his own assassination one year before it actually happens. Not only does he not attempt to avoid his execution, but he actually facilitates it by leaping into the path of a bullet meant for a bodyguard. This does not occur, however, before he and his followers create a cult that overthrows Fedgov, leading to the resettlement of Doug, his wife Nina and their three-year-old son in an artificial habitat on Venus.
The novel addresses questions of Jones's agenda and trustworthiness as well as the decidedly ambiguous benefits of individual precognition.