Prometheus

Newsletter of the Libertarian Futurist Society

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Volume 22, Number 2 (Spring-Summer 2004)

The Pixel Eye

by Paul Levinson

(TOR Books, 2003)
Reviewed by Jorge Codina

The Pixel Eye by Paul Levinson is a detective story set in roughly modern day New York. Dr. Phil D'Amato is a forensic detective with the New York Police Department. He is asked by the Deputy Mayor for Public Safety, New York City's equivalent of the Secretary of Homeland Security, to look into allegations that squirrels are going missing. The concern is that some sort of disease may be killing them.

Phil's investigation uncovers a project by the Department of Homeland Security, using animals for surveillance. It seems that terrorists are also aware of this project and use it as cover to have animals deliver bombs.

Phil must consider the balance between security of society and privacy for individuals. Being a strong supporter of the First Amendment he must also consider the trade off between free speech and protests or information that potentially aids terrorists.

Given what he uncovers about the surveillance efforts, he is asked to work for the Federal government while keeping his position with the NYPD. Essentially to be an "inside man" for the Feds.

Unfortunately, he accepts. Despite his fondness for Karl Popper, his support of the First Amendment and his concerns for the privacy of individuals, he goes over to the Feds. He doesn't really give it a lot of thought. It is more like going with the flow. When he tells his wife about it, her only concern is financial. He assures her that he should be getting more money, and everything is fine.

I don't know if it was the author's intent, but it is a frightening book, in that it shows just how easy it is to go from being good to being on the wrong side. It shows how easy it is to be "seduced by the dark side". This novel can be viewed as a warning and therefore is a good candidate for the Prometheus Award

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