The Shockwave Rider by John Brunner

But love was not part of the curriculum. It was parts. It was split up. It was “intense emotional involvement” and “excessive interdependence” and “typical inflated adolescent libido”…

Now, on the other hand, when this new strange person he was evolving into thought of Kate, he clenched his fists and gritted his teeth and shut his eyes and dissolved into pure raw hate, unresisting.

All his life he had had to control his deep reactions: as a pre-teen kid, because if you didn’t you could be the one sanded on the way home tonight; as a teener, because every moment of the day and night students here were liable for reassessment to make sure they were worthy of staying, and the first five years he had wanted to stay more than anything else in the world and the second five he had wanted to use Tarnover instead of being used by it; thereafter because the data-net now ramified into so many areas of private life that his slightest error could bring hunters closing in for the kill.

It followed that yielding to emotion, whether positive or negative, had always seemed dangerous. It was bad to let himself like another person too much; if a child, he or she would run tomorrow with a different gang, mercurial, and whoop and holler after you to your hour of blood and tears; if an adult, he or she would depart for some other job and leave behind merely a memory and a memento.

Equally it was bad to let yourself fear or detest somebody too much; it led into areas where you couldn’t predict your own behavior or that of others. “Here be tygers!” But the capacity for emotion was in his mind, though he’d been unaware of the fact. He recalled with a trace of irony how he had looked over the detensing machine in G2S’s transient accommodation block and pitied those with the ability to form strong attachments.

I was pitying myself, I guess. Well, pity was the most that I deserved.

Now he was being forced to recognize just how intensely he could feel, and there was a sound logical reason for encouraging the process.

The data Freeman and those behind him had in store were derived from a coldly calculating person—call him Mister X Minus E. Substitute throughout Mister X Plus E.

And what you’re going to wind up with, you sons of bitches, is what you fear above all. A unique solution in irrationals!

A little rain started to smear the west-facing window of his room. He rose and walked over to stare out at the clouds, tinted with red because the sun was setting and the rain was approaching from the east.

I am in approximately the position of someone attempting to filch enough plutonium from a nuclear research plant to build a bomb. I must sneak the stuff out without either causing a noticeable stock-loss, or triggering the perimeter detectors, or incurring radiation burns. Quite a three-pipe problem, Watson. It may take as long as a week, or even ten days.

MIRROR, MIRROR You are in circular orbit around a planet. You are being overtaken by another object, also in circular orbit, moving several km./sec. faster. You accelerate to try and catch up.

See you later, accelerator.

Much later.

HARTZ AND FLAWS In the interrogation room the three-vee screen had been replaced by a stretch mirror. Not wanting to seem to look too hard or long at the naked body of the girl stretched out in the steel chair, Hartz glanced at his reflection instead.

Catching sight of a smear of perspiration on his forehead, he pulled out a large handkerchief, and inadvertently dislodged his visitor’s authorization card, which he was not quick enough to catch before it fluttered to the floor.

Freeman courteously picked it up and handed it back.

Muttering thanks, Hartz replaced it, harrumphed loudly into his handkerchief and then said, “Your reports have been meager, to say the least.”

“I would naturally have informed you at once had there been any significant developments.”

“Oh, there have been! That’s why I’m here!” Hartz snapped, and decided there was no point after all in pretending not to look at the girl. Scrawny as she was, bald, childishly bare-bodied, she scarcely resembled a human being: more, a laboratory animal, some oversize strain of mutant hairless rat.

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