Donald Hogan was a mild mannered intellectual, at least that's what everyone was supposed to think. He knew he was a spy. What he didn't know was that in an overpopulated world where everyone was struggling for life he himself was programmed for death.
Set in a near-future that is overpopulated and increasingly run by eugenics and computers this Hugo-winning work by Brunner examines the lives of two roommates--the white academic and spy Donald and the African-American Muslim Norman--via a very unique story-telling method. The main plot-line (called "continuity") is split up with four other types of chapters: context (writings important to the world), tracking with close-ups (short stories focusing in on minor characters), and the happening world (advertizing of the time). The result is that the reader is completely immersed in the world and comes to clearly understand what leads the main characters to behave in the way that they do. The story-telling method is difficult to read, but is very rewarding.
The main themes of the book are the negative impacts of overpopulation (living as a human is compared to being an ant or a bacteria), as well as the dehumanizing impact of dependence upon artificial intelligence. The book is immensely thought-provoking and unique, and I highly recommend it to lovers of scifi.