by David Karp.Vanguard, $3.50.
This first novel offers us a chilling vision of the kind of Utopia that might take shape if the aims of our zealots for conformity were carried to their logical extreme. In Mr. Karp’s state of the future, virtually flawless conformity prevails. Countless state spies file daily reports on their associates in which the slightest sign of heresy is meticulously noted. Those guilty of heresy are patiently “ reclaimed" by a process of brain washing; hopeless cases are reluctantly destroyed as carriers of infection. Mr. Karp’s story centers on a mild-mannered professor who is found to be the worst sort of heretic. The “Department” concludes that he must be killed, but one of its most brilliant and inhuman officials is granted a chance to try to “salvage” him. “I’m going to pulverize this man’s identity,” says inquisitor Lark. “I’m going to reduce him to a cipher — from one to nothing.” How Lark goes about doing this, and with what results, makes a gripping and provocative story. Mr. Karp is no George Orwell, but his book is a superior thriller which dramatizes a point that cannot, at this juncture, be dramatized too often.