Good one about a city that’s a combination of government and computer. It soon has a mind of its own.
Frank Arthur Ridgway is a PR man for Duncan Electronic Systems Services run by family friend Jim Duncan. They own the super computer known as DESS. It controls robexes that run everyday life from driving cars, food service etc. It’s easier than having individual robots that have to be programmed.
While walking outside Ridgway sees a car accident. A human drunk driver slammed into a girl and kills her. The robex ambulance comes by and takes her away.
At the office even the receptionist is a robex but Ridgway has a human secretary. Jim is concerned about the Serven company headed by Nicholas Rogan. He wants to take over DESS and another company and run it all. He may have to wait since DESS just landed a big contract.
In a restaurant things start to go wrong. Looks like a problem with DESS and the robexes that cook the food etc. DESS’s programmer Dr.Sheridan can’t believe there’s anything wrong with DESS. Another expert, Carrit, is brought in from the university.
As things turn out the company loses the contract to Rogan and Ridgway is fired. On the way out he thinks he sees the girl who was killed. Things go from bad to worse as Ridgway can’t find a job and ends up on Relief.
Thanks to science and technology blue collar jobs are eliminated as the robexes do the work. Companies hope the human workers will strike so they have an excuse to replace them with a robex. The world is at peace and that’s all the rich need so they can pour money into private security forces to keeps the poor far away from them.
Ridgway spots the girl driving a clean up vehicle and spends his last money on a cab to follow her. He ends up being attacked by a dog and then robbed of everything including his clothes. Then the girl appears.
While that’s going on Jim orders DESS destroyed. Dr.Sheridan had been feeding it his emotions and it took on the awareness of a humans and that was causing all the malfunctions of the robexes.
Ridgway is pulled into a dirty room by the girl and she’s all over him. She’s part of a group that’s moving people from the city to resettle in the country while redevelopment is going on. The city is being torn apart to make a new one and the people are being tossed out. She tells Ridgway to go to Australia.
A year goes by and Ridgway returns. The city has gone insane and seems to have a mind of its own. Rogan has disappeared in it and the left over citizens act like zombies. Ridgway and Carrit go into the city to try and shut it down.
The last third of the book is action oriented and moves along well. This is good escapism.