The Shockwave Rider by John Brunner

As though the past had stepped into the present.

All three of the faces on the screen frowned at Hartz: Snyder with annoyance, Dorsi with suspicion, Sullivan with impatience. They let pecking order decide who should speak.

Highest in the hierarchy Sullivan said, “Are you insane? Only a few days ago you insisted we deevee all the 4GH codes assigned to FBI, CIA, Secret Service—and now here you are claiming that the U-group codes must be junked too! You couldn’t cause more trouble if you were a paid subversive.”

Dorsi said, “Let me remind you of this, too. Upon my asking what to use when we replaced the 4GH, you personally advised me that there was no known means of leeching any code from the reserve and assigning it to U-group status without that fact being revealed in your own bureau’s computers. No record of such action can be found, can it? I can just see the president’s face if I were to go to him with such a crazy story.”

“But when I said that I didn’t know—” Hartz began. Snyder cut him short.

“What’s more, you’ve made a direct attack on my integrity and administrative efficiency. You’ve said in so many words that the person you claim to have carried out this act of sabotage is a graduate of Weychopee who moved to Tarnover at my special request and who was cleared by me in person for essential work here. I wholly agree with Mr. Sullivan. You must have taken leave of your senses.”

“Therefore,” Sullivan said, “I’m requiring you to take leave of absence as well. Preferably indefinite. Are we through with this conference? Good. I have other business to attend to.”

FOR PURPOSES OF OBFUSCATION I know damn well I am Paul Thomas Freeman, aged thirty-nine, a government employee with scholars’ degrees in cybernetics, psychology and political science plus a master’s in data processing. Similarly I know that if as a kid I hadn’t been recruited much as Haflinger was, I’d probably have wound up as a petty criminal, into smuggling or dope or maybe running an illegal Delphi pool. Maybe I might not have been as smart as I imagine. Maybe I’d be dead.

And I also know I’ve been brilliantly maneuvered into a corner where I sacrificed everything I’ve gained in life on a spur-of-the-moment impulse, threw away my career, let myself in—quite possibly—for a treason trial… and with no better excuse than that I like Haflinger better than Hartz and the buggers at his back. A corner? More like a deep dark hole! So why the hell do I feel so goddamn happy?

FULCRUM When he finished explaining how he had contrived their escape, Kate said incredulously, “Was that all?”

“Not quite. I also made a call to the ten nines.”

“Ah. I should have guessed.”

A MATTER OF HYSTERICAL RECORD When the short-lived Allende government was elected to power in Chile and needed a means of balancing that unfortunate country’s precarious economy, Allende appealed to the British cybernetics expert Stafford Beer.

Who announced that as few as ten significant quantities, reported from a handful of key locations where adequate communications facilities existed, would enable the state of the economy to be reviewed and adjusted on a day-to-day basis.

Judging by what happened subsequently, his claim infuriated nearly as many people as did the news that there are only four elements in the human genetic code.

LIKE THEY SAY. IT’S BOUNCE OR BREAK At Ann Arbor, Michigan, research psychologist Dr. Zoë Sideropoulos had house guests for a week. She was an expert in hypnosis and had written a well-known study of the regression effect which, in suitable cases, makes possible the recovery of memories ordinarily lost to conscious awareness without such crude physical aids as electrodes planted in the subject’s brain.

During the week she made exceptionally intensive use of her home computer terminal. Or rather, that was what the machines believed.

When he was able to take a break from using Dr. Sideropoulos’s terminal—a new and extremely efficient model—Kate brought him omelets and the nearest surviving commercial equivalent of “real beer.”

“Eat before it’s cold,” she commanded. “Then talk. In detail and with footnotes.”

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