The Dispatcher

John Scalzi
The Dispatcher Cover

The Dispatcher


This novella is what I fondly remember of science fiction from my youth - imagine a world with some crazy situation, then write about what it's like to live there. I liked the creativity of both the mystery and the environment here.

The twist in this situation is that murder victims are somehow saved, their bodies returned unharmed to their homes. What new jobs would this spawn? Our main character is a dispatcher - it is his job to kill people (painlessly) when something has gone wrong - for example during an operation. Thus instead of killing them, he has "saved" them. A good chunk of the story space is spent describing this environment and dancing around some of the questions of morality and theology.

Removing those elements leaves the main character and a police detective, working together to figure out a missing person case. The perspectives of and personalities of both come across well in this story. And that is basically all we have here. An author like Lukyanenko puts three of these together into one novel, interrelating them slightly. Here, we have only a novella, and a fairly quick read at that.