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Truth Machine Mass Market Paperback – June 29, 1997

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey; Reprint edition (June 29, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345412885
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345412881
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 4.1 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (318 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,265,498 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

Imagine a world in which no one can lie. Now try to imagine the consequences. Halperin has written this generation's 1984, and rarely have our customers praised a book more highly. (Click on the title, and find out what they have to say ... assuming they are telling the truth!) And only time will tell whether Halperin's book is speculative fiction, or inverse history. Very Highly Recommended. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

What would the world be like if scientists developed the perfect lie detector? How would it change our criminal justice system? Psychiatric practice? International diplomacy? In his first novel, Halperin argues that such an invention could lead humanity into an era of unequaled prosperity, one in which crime is virtually unknown and true democracy is possible. A professional numismatist and a member of the World Future Society, Halperin is a relatively unskilled novelist. His prose is at best workmanlike, and his plotting and character development tend toward the simplistic. Nearly all of his major characters, from millionaire-genius protagonist Pete Armstrong on down, seem to be either the smartest, the richest, the most respected or the most influential people in the world. The traditional qualities of fiction are apparently of only secondary interest to the author, however. As a futurist, Halperin seems primarily concerned with suggesting innovations and then working out their implications over half a century. Heavily didactic, but supporting positions across the political spectrum, the book argues in favor of mandatory capital punishment for certain crimes, the privatization of schools, strict limits on insurance settlements, the elimination of the FAA, the legalization of assisted suicide, parental licensing and the establishment of a world government. Although crude from a literary point of view, Halperin's novel is not without strengths. His speculations about the next 50 years are fascinating, and the consequences of the truth machine are well worked out. In the final analysis, it's hard to believe that Halperin's near-utopian future could be so easily attained, but it would be nice to live there. 150,000 first printing; six-figure ad/promo; author tour; U.K. rights sold.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

I do love science fiction and found the story fascinating and believable.
Lee Parmeter (
Although I have read "The Truth Machine" a few times it still grabs me and makes me ponder the questions it raises.
If you're into thinking about how the future will turn it, The Truth Machine is a good read.
Felix Dominguez

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Patrick L. Randall VINE VOICE on January 29, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
James Halperin's debut science fiction novel, "The Truth Machine", is an amazing achievement. It is a story so grand and sweeping in its scale that it gives Clarke's "Childhood's End" and Haldeman's "Forever War" strong competition for the greatest novel written about Earth's future. What sets it apart from those two books, though, is how it only requires a leap of faith regarding scientific advances to imagining the future "The Truth Machine" realizes, as opposed to alien intervention affecting the futures in the "Childhood's End" and "Forever War". The author, Halperin, is Harvard educated posits fascinating theories about perilous future of Earth and how the events in this book helped avoid it.

"The Truth Machine" has been termed "'1984' for our generation". While there are similarities, each book takes a decidedly different view of people having absolute knowledge and no privacy. "1984" is about how the government controls the populace through the use of `big brother', a system with which none of the country's citizens are safe from government surveillance and manipulation. This dark view is contrasted dramatically by Halperin's much more positive view of full disclosure and the methods of achieving it.

"The Truth Machine" primarily focuses on the life story of Randall Peterson "Pete" Armstrong, a child prodigy with total recall memory, whose entire life's outlook has been defined the tragic murder of his younger brother, Leonard, by an ex-convict who was believed to be capable of committing violent crimes again, but could not be imprisoned any longer under the current law structure. Pete is committed to making a difference for humanity that will atone for his brother's death and help millions of others, too. In his first year at Harvard (at just age 13!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Victoria Spencer on October 14, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I will say what I view as the most important things about it first. Bring a fresh approach to this novel if you decide to read it. Note the "warning" inherent in the prologue page which tells us that a computer wrote the book. For the most part, don't expect 1984 or Stranger In A Strange Land in terms of the brilliant writing skills of the author or the engaging nature of his characterizations. This is not that kind of book.

It is, however, a very engaging and successful novel in its own way. I first read it in 1996, after finding it in a yard sale full of books. Someone wanted either to share it or get rid of it; and judging by the disparity of the reviews published here, that's a fair representation of readers' responses.

I am amazed that, even though I read The Truth Machine a decade ago, I still remember it almost as vividly as if I'd read it last month! The thought-provoking nature of this novel is indeed what recommends it most highly -- or should, even if in the end one dislikes it, the author, or his conclusions.

I am 57 years old and have read science fiction and other "speculative" works since I was in grade school. The Truth Machine is unlike any other novel, and that, too, ought to recommend it to anyone who enjoys seeing what a first-time novelist came up with on the significant subject he tackled.

So in summary, the reason I believe this book is well worth the time spent reading it is that almost anyone should be able to come away from it with his own "speculative" juices flowing. To me, it was a jumping off point rather than a compilation of specific ideas, though I readily admit others might not see it that way.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By "protocode" on November 6, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
People claim that this book is incredibly prophetic. I dunno, perhaps it is, perhaps it isn't, but I do think that this book places much more faith in mankind when placed in the "truth machine" situation than I would.
But the point of a fiction book is not to tell the future, or be 100 percent factual. That is why it is called fiction.
Look past all of that, and you've got yourself an interesting book. The notion of a truth machine is a tantalizing one, and that's what drew me to the book, the title. As it turns out, Halperin does a better than decent job at tackling the issue, with interesting characters, and a story line that will keep you reading. I guess I just think you could get more out of this topic. Maybe not.
Anyway, this is an overly decent book, and I do recommend reading it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By David Thompson on August 2, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
So many of the reviews written seem to be totally missing the point of the book, merely criticizing Halperin on his "futuristic predictions". I found these predictions to be though-provoking, but they were not the reason for the book. I think they were the "cream" that added to the "Hmmmm Factor" of the novel. In no way did I think he was tring to be a Nostrodamus, just giving us items to think about, which were based on some sort of factual information or research which he references in the appendix of the book. And I'm sorry, science fiction? No, that would be a very wrong assumption. And that Halperin's characters seem to be the "best" at what they do? Considering the plot, they have to be, the main character is the one who invented the Truth Machine.

What I read in the book was a plot that was Greek Tragedy in nature, the struggle of a highly intelligent man and his invention. The dark temptation of man, even those men that are intelligent. This coupled with the final payment for his sins. A very hard struggle indeed.

This is to be considered in the ranks of 1984 and Brave New World in that it takes a look at the future. But Halperin doesn't base the book on just his predictions. They are mere crumbs on the plate of human character and struggle. If the crumbs are all you are seeing, someone else ate the toast. Take the "futureistic" colored glasses off and read the book for the plot and struggle with a new technology that would, if invented, completely change the world. Goverments would change, people would change, the whole world would change. Halperin made me stop and actually think, instead of spoon feeding me. A great read.
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