Anthony, Piers + Margroff
book-date: 1968
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cvr price:
Ace (SF special)
Leo & Diane Dillon

original Leo+Diane Dillon cover

A collaboration between Piers Anthony and Robert E. Margroff: The Ring. This is one of Anthony's 3 best works, and makes my "top 100" list - I strongly recommend it.

For a coherent plot summary, I once again rely on P. Schuyler Miller, and quote from a review in Analog (March 1969):
"Who has contributed what to this collaboration I don't know, but the result is an excellent, thought-provoking novel with no little significance for our era. The "ring" of the title is the Establishment's punishment for those who rock the boat. Grafted into one of the convicted person's fingers and connected into his nervous system, it inflicts hideous torment on him if he so much thinks wrong by Society's tenets. Jeff Font is doggedly determined to hazard the sentence of the Ring if it is necessary to get evidence that his father was framed by his partner - and once he is caught and the sentence passed, he is determined to defy it, and does.

But there is a good deal more to the book than a picture of a contorted future society and the grim working out of ruthless justice as that society strives to protect itself. Where does insistence on an individual's rights cease to be praiseworthy and become anarchy? In the ultimate welfare society, whose members have discarded any idea of individual responsibility, are individual rights still valid? Can the kind of automatic, self-regulating governor on antisocial action that the Ring represents ever function justly, or is it bound to be used oppressively to stabilize the status quo? Read it and find your own answers in your own ideas: the book won't offer any easy ones." [P. Schuyler Miller]