The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe
by D. G. Compton
Review by Glenn Frantz

I've read two novels by British writer D. G. Compton: Synthajoy (1968) and The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe (1974; also published as The Unsleeping Eye). Both novels deal with ethical problems raised by the use of technology to eavesdrop on human emotions. Both emphasize the human rather than the scientific side of the story, and they experiment with the subjective viewpoint of the narrator in a way reminiscent of Philip K. Dick. However, Compton's writing style is more refined than Dick's, which also makes it harder to overlook the implausibility of the technical innovations posited in each novel.

The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe is less accomplished, but still quite gripping. The heroine of the title is told she has a rare, fatal illness and only has four weeks to live. Immediately, she is besieged by reporters, filmmakers, and merchandisers who who want to package and sell her death throes to a sensation-hungry public. Foremost among these is a TV reporter who has tiny cameras permanently implanted in his retinae. Compton's sense of moral outrage at the exploitive "media monster" is the most memorable aspect of the book.

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