“The Dispatcher” by John Scalzi #BookReview

Georgia Kostopoulou

33910936Somewhere in the future, not that far from today, it becomes impossible to murder anyone. Murdered persons will stay dead 1 times out of a thousand. The remaining 999 times, the murdered people, will return to life, in the safety of their home and the warmth of their bed. No one really knows why this is happening, but is a true game changer for everything! War, crime, even everyday life.

Tony Valdez is a Dispatcher. He is licensed to humanly dispatch those whose circumstances put then in death’s crosshairs, so they can have a second chance in life. He is working with hospitals, being positioned either inside an operating room, so he can take over in case someone is characterized as unsalvable, in the emergency room, or in the hospital in general, in case his services are needed. Not everyone likes dispatchers, surgeons being just a part of them. But these are the hazards of the job!

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 a supposed wrong. Just like it always happened. Some things never change.

The book is a mixture of science fiction and mystery and therefore it can easily hold the attention of the reader. The story is one that could easily be turned into a movie, adding a bit of subplots that would work better in the big screen. It really sounds cinematic and the reader can clearly create a picture of the described scene in their own mind! It comes with a moral dilemma one expects to find in science fiction genre. “Would you kill someone if it also meant you’d be saving their life”. That’s a question difficult to answer. At least I find it difficult.

The moral part here is also the provocative part. How far can a person go to help someone? What would you be willing to do to help or even to save a loved one’s life? Would you be strong enough to murder them with your own hands? Would you be forcing them to go through painful procedures, knowing that they might die, but they would probably come back alive in seconds? Would you be willing to do this to people you never met before? Would you be a good Dispatcher or would it be hard for you, questioning their job all the time? Would you like to be married to someone like that? To a justified murderer? There is a lot of questioning and a lot of thinking and this is the good part about science fiction books like this one. They make us think how we would react if something like that happened in real life.

The other part of the story in the book is the mystery. Many a time, in science fiction genre we get to read also a good mystery and this book could not be left without one! The disappearance of the other Dispatcher is what triggers the mystery part and also a bit of the moral part described before, as the mystery is what usually reveals the depths of the moral dilemma.

“The Dispatcher” is a quick entertaining read which I recommend to anyone who likes science fiction and a bit of mystery.


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