Title: Dayworld (Dayworld #1)
Author: Philip José Farmer
Pub. Date: June, 1988
Summary: Dayworld leads a trilogy by Philip José Farmer set in a dystopian future in which an overpopulated world allocates people only one day a week. The other six days they’re in suspended animation. The focus is on Jeff Caird, a daybreaker living more than a day a week. He’s not like most daybreakers. He belongs to the radical Immer group working to create a better government. Not all Immers are daybreakers, but send information from one day to the next. Immer daybreakers assume seven different personalities & jobs, slipping from culture to culture in seven different worlds. While Jeff & the other six go day to day, they run into problems while working as Immer daybreakers. They must cover their tracks while trying to keep up with seven different lives, families & jobs. It could drive a man crazy. It does & the Immers must dispose of Jeff to keep the rest safe. Jeff, wanting to live, tries to escape, but they have undercover Immers in every job & government level. Jeff is caught & put in an asylum, classified with multiple personality disorder. If considered incurable he’ll be killed. But Jeff has an escape plan.
The only reason this book received a star was because I thought the premise was amazing. It’s always such a disappointment when a book has a great idea, but the execution is terrible. Such was the case with Dayworld.
I first stumbled upon this book at work and was so drawn to it I began reading it that same night. In the distant future, Earth is too crowded and the government decides to allow each person one day out of the week to live. The other six days they’re in a frozen state (the book chooses the word ‘stoned’ which took on an entirely different meaning). Jeff Caird is a daybreaker – he’s able to live the entire week although he has seven individual personas/families/homes for each day.
Right from the start I was disappointed. The writing is very juvenile; normally short sentences and quick transitions means a fast read. Unfortunately, this book (my copy was just barely over 200 pages) took nearly an entire week for me to finish. It seemed unending. Not only was the writing not up to par, but the author chose names that simply confused me. Granted, odd naming schemes and sci-fi go hands-in-hand; however, Farmer decided – for some reason that was never explained other than a ‘it’s how things go in the future’ – to give some women male names and some men female names. This became EXTREMELY confusing when a character introduced Rupert as his wife or Dorothy was described as a man.
While it was interesting that each day has their own fads, Farmer took it to an extreme – and, again, for an discernible reason. On one of the days, everyone carries around teddy bears. Men, women, and children. They all walk around with teddy bears. One character paints grasshoppers and a current fashion trend is to be painted. I simply couldn’t wrap my head around it and all the ~wackiness~ became frustrating (& I’m normally a fan of wacky, quirky books – Jasper Fforde, I’m looking at you!).
Toward the end I had had enough and began skimming – never a good sign. I wound up skimming through a big, climactic fight scene. Not even a battle was interesting enough to keep me entertained. In the end I had skimmed through the final 80 pages & as I had mentioned, my copy was just over 200. 80 pages is quite a big portion of the book to skim.
Sadly, as excited as I was about this book, Dayworld was a huge letdown and I will not be reading its sequels.