"The Artificial Man" by L.P. Davies (1965)
"She was oddly relieved that his loss of memory had been caused artificially and not intentionally. Now she was to meet and become one of the people he had told her about."
L.P. Davies? Who the hell is L.P. Davies? Well, to start with, he was British and he died in 1988. He was active from the late 60s to early 80s. He was never famous. This book, The Artificial Man, is perhaps the best-known entry in his bibliography.
The Artificial Man opens with a man waking up in his country house, talking with various neighbors, and then setting out for a walk in the hills. Then begins a slow process of realization. Everything around him, this man learns, is not as it seems, and the people in his life may have sinister intentions.
Paranoia, in other words. And not too far out of Philip K. Dick's wheelhouse. Like a lot of PKD's fiction, it's not so much based on scientific concepts as conjecture based on the psychological theory of the day, and also on a certain willingness to venture into the ambiguous nature of the self, one's relation to other people, and on the role of the individual in a society where good is never all that good, and evil is only a bad decision away.
This would seem to imply a novel of great depth. This is, however, not what I want to say. No, The Artificial Man isn't Ubik. It isn't Dune. It isn't The Eden Cycle. It's more a tale of weird science, of powers of the mind gone astray, and perhaps also a tale of spies working within a geopolitical reality very similar to our own. If it seems deep that's probably more of a coincidence, although the author is to be given credit for his way with words.
My only complaint is the plot twists near the end. In the last fourth of this novel there's a plot twist every ten pages or so, and after the third or fourth plot twist I found myself losing interest in the story. It would have been better, I think, to have ended the thing 50 pages or so earlier. No need to over-complicate what was already working.
Just the same I enjoyed this book. I doubt I'll be coming across other titles by the same author, but if I ever do I'll be glad to give them a go.
"They Shall Have Stars" by James Blish (1957)
"Out of the Sun" by Ben Bova (1984)
"Mindhopper" by James B. Johnson (1988)
"Coyote" by Allen Steele (2002)