On the Board,they were just littlelights that glowed.But out therein the night of thecity-jungle,they representedhuman passions--virulent emotions--and deadly crimes-to-be ...
the lights, "Just lovers' quarrels tonight; all pale pink and peaceful."
Tilton smiled and ambled back to the cell block. The operator put his feet up on his desk, then frowned and put them down again. He leaned toward the board and studied the light at the end of the second row. The needle registered sixty-six. The operator pursed his lips, then flicked a switch that opened the photo file. Every five minutes an automatic camera photographed the deAngelis board, developed the film, and filed the picture away in its storage vault.
King studied the photographs for quite awhile, then pulled his log book over and made an entry. He wrote: 8:20:19:3142:1x. The last three digits meant that he wasn't sure about the intensity, and the "x" signified a continuous reading.
King turned to the audio controller, "Do me a favor, Gus, but strictly unofficial. Contact everybody around us: Oakland, Squirrel Hill, Point Breeze, Lawrenceville, Bloomfield ... everybody in this end of town. Find out if they've
In the future, the Pittsburgh police have a machine that receives emotional energy and projects the location on a screen. The problem is interpreting the information. An old lady picking up a knife on impulse and stabbing her husband might only show a brief blip. A guy being bawled out by his boss or a child having a nightmare could show strong, long-lasting anger and fear, but mean nothing. A psychopath can kill without registering at all. The machine operators needed skill.
But a blip slowly-growing in intensity over a long period usually meant premeditated murder.
The story took a while to figure out, but ended up being satisfying. A few things were jarring. Everyone except the little girl was male: the cops, the reporters, the perp, everyone. Women were mentioned twice, as dumb broads. The other problem was the idea people could be taken into custody before their crimes.
The writing was good, both in characterizations and description.
SF shorty with a decidedly Orwellian theme, where the author doesn't hesitate to endorse the Law&Order point of view, and doesn't even care about newsies getting all info. Of course, a small child is an important part of the propaganda.