Make Room! Make Room!
Orb (Tor), Apr 2008, $14.95
In 1999, New York City suffers from overpopulation as 35 million people live there. The country as a whole is also struggling with population issues. In that environs Chinese American Billy Chung lives in the floating slums of New York Harbor. During a food riot, Billy escapes with meat that he sells so that he can fund his effort to become a telegram delivery person. During a delivery, he finds an apartment that looks easy to break into, which he does. However the occupant is home and Billy kills "Big" Mike O'Brien.
Since O’Brien was connected, the overworked NYPD assigns Andrew Rusch to solve the case immediately just in case this was a professional hit. However, clues lead Andrew to believe Billy killed the victim. Meanwhile Andrew meets O’Brien’s girlfriend Shirl and soon she moves in with him and his roommate Sol. Billy flees to Brooklyn, where he finds sanctuary with Peter, a religious fanatic. Andrew finds and kills tracks Billy. Shirl is gone and the brass punishes him over the O’Brien case as their intended solution changed and he failed to keep up with that.
Apparently this novel was the basis for the movie Soylent Green. MAKE ROOM! MAKE ROOM! is an interesting reprinting of a 1966 cautionary tale that using theories of Malthus and Ehrlich (“The Population Bomb”) which warned of the impact of overpopulation on the food supply and the environment. The story line stars everyday people trying to survive in a dying world with no hope for the future; in fact the only person with aspirations beyond his next meal is the young thief. Well written and exciting, part of the fun is to see how close Harry Harrison was in predicting the world of 1999.