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You Are Here: Home > Essay Topics > Literature Essays and Research Papers > Sci-Fi Novels  > Essay on The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe by D. G. Compton

  Sci-Fi Novels

Essay on The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe by D. G. Compton

As a television reporter, Rod is used to treading the line between journalistic objectivity and vicarious involvement. Taking a new assignment on The Human Destiny Show, a top-rated reality program that follows the stories of accident victims, the mentally ill and terminal cases, Rod agrees (for a large sum) to have radical microsurgery performed on his eyes for a new angle on the human tragedies the series covers: Rod will no longer be in front of the camera, he will be the camera. The latest subject of the series has absconded after signing a contract and taking the money, so Rod's assignment is to find her and gain her trust without revealing his true purpose while the audience watches voyeuristically though the journalist's eyes. For Katherine Mortenhoe is a fortyish divorcee suffering from a fatal disease, a rarity in the world of tomorrow, and her decline towards an inevitable death will be compulsive viewing for an audience starved of traumatic catharsis. As Rod grows to know Katherine he finds many parallels with his own life - he too is estranged and separated from a partner who mistrusts the ethical compromises Rod's career has encouraged him to make. In the continuousness of his experience of Katherine, Rod sees what millions of viewers cannot due to the editing of the broadcast and he struggles internally between growing compassion and a swelling self-disgust that will compel him to take drastic action.

D.G. Compton is a writer whose fine prose focuses on characters, and he could have established him as a leading general novelist had he not committed himself to SF from the mid-sixties onwards, making his work an ideal read for those who enjoy the realistic settings of John Wyndham and J.G. Ballard. The moral dilemmas faced by individuals confronted by the implications of new technologies and changing times has been his perpetual interest, although he has tackled classic themes such as space colonization and aliens in some books.

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