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Blast from the Past: Airport Special [Hardcover]

Ben Elton
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)

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Book Description

3 Sep 1998
Ready to follow Nick Hornsby and Helen Fielding as the next big thing from Cool Britannia to hit America is Ben Elton. Already known to a wide public television audience as the funnyman behind Blackadder, The Young Ones, and The Thin Blue Line, Elton, author of Popcorn, lights up the literary sky with Blast from the Past.

Part noir thriller, part hilarious send-up of the politics of extremism, Blast from the Past is the new novel from English comedy phenomenon (stand-up, playwright, television writer, and author) Ben Elton--a name soon to be known in all circles once Joel Schumacher's film of his book Popcorn reaches the silver screen.

In the early 80s, when Polly was a seventeen-year-old ideological peace protestor and Jack was a U.S. Army captain stationed at England's Greenham Common, the two had a secret and very unlikely affair. No two people could have had more to argue about, save that they couldn't live without each other, yet one day Jack came to the conclusion that he loved soldiering more than Polly and sacrificed their love to be a career army man.

Now, sixteen years later, Polly is a lonely thirty-something social services employee and Jack is a four-star general who has returned to Britain to find her, his only true love. With only one night to resolve their differences, and a knife-wielding stalker lurking in the shadows, for everyone concerned this will be a night like no other.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam Press (3 Sep 1998)
  • ISBN-10: 0593044843
  • ISBN-13: 978-0593044841
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 13 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 6,050,706 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ben Elton is one of Britain's most provocative and entertaining writers. From celebrity to climate change, from the First World War to the end of the world, his books give his unique perspective on some of the most controversial topics of our time.

He has written twelve major bestsellers, including Stark, Popcorn, Inconceivable (filmed as Maybe Baby, which he also directed), Dead Famous, High Society (WH Smith People's Choice Award 2003) and The First Casualty.

He has also written some of television's most popular and incisive comedy, including The Young Ones, Blackadder and The Man From Auntie. His stage work includes three West End plays and the hit musicals The Beautiful Game and We Will Rock You.

He is married with three children.

Product Description

Amazon Review

It's 2.15 a.m. and the phone wakes you. Only someone bad would ring you at such an hour, or someone with bad news, which would probably be worse. You hear the answer-machine kick in and feel your heart beat. You listen. And then you hear the voice you least expect - a blast from the past."

Blast From The Past is the fifth novel from Ben Elton, the celebrated and controversial comedian/playwright/author whose TV credits include The Young Ones and Blackadder as well as the previous novels Stark and Popcorn. Jack Kent, US Captain stationed at Greenham Common during the early eighties, has a secret and unlikely affair with the Polly Sacred Cycle of the Womb and Moon, a 17-year-old ideological peace protester:

the star-crossed lovers made Romeo and Juliet look like an arranged marriage! Pamela Anderson and the Ayatollah Khomeni would have made a more natural-looking couple.
Sixteen years later and a four star General, Kent returns to Britain to seek out his only true love. Polly, now a lonely thirtysomething Equal Opportunities employee, is being stalked by the Bug when the phone rings.

Set in the staid, politically-correct nineties of New Labour Britain, the story flashes back with comic effect to the early eighties, a time of protest, strikes and Cold War. While hardcore Elton fans might be disappointed with the weak plot and smaller helpings of piercing wit and wacky socio-political observations, Blast from the Past still offers up some laugh-out-loud lines and entertaining reading. --Andrew Crawford --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.


"Only Ben Elton could combine uncomfortable questions about gender politics with a gripping, page-turning narrative and jokes that make you laugh out loud" (Tony Parsons, author of Man and Boy)

"Elton at his most outrageously entertaining" (Cosmopolitan)

"The action is tight and well-plotted, the dialogue is punchy, and the whole thing rolls along so nicely" (Guardian)

"A lively thriller of sexual politics and morality. Elton's best book yet" (Elle) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Average: too long winded, not a lot happens 10 April 2007
Following Stark, Gridlock, This Other Eden and Popcorn, Blast From The Past is Ben Elton's fifth novel. It's his worst.

It tells the story of a Polly - a principled 17 year old feminist leftwing peacenik who hates nuclear weapons and campaigns outside Greenham Common in the 1980s - and Jack, a high ranking rightwing US soldier in his 30s. They meet, bizarrely fall in love but then after a summer of love Jack leaves her. Suspense is provided by the 'Bug', a man obsessed by Polly who watches her and is determined to possess her no matter what. The novel charts his obsession as a sideline to Polly and Jack's relationship, his departure and his subsequent surprise arrival on her doorstep 16 years after he left her.

I'm reading Ben Elton's novels in the order they were published and this is his worst to date - why?

It is written adequately enough but the problem is that it is just not funny enough for a comic novel, nor is it gripping enough for a suspense novel. Yes it does have jokes but nowhere near as many as Stark or Gridlock - whole chapters fly by between them - and in a comic novel a joke every 10 to 15 pages is not enough. Moreover, the suspense formed by the Bug wanting Polly only takes off in the last 75 pages of the novel, and this is a BIG problem.

This story would work well as a short story because endless conversations between two people about the same subject ('Why have you returned, Jack?') cannot be sustained over 350 pages. There are only three main characters yet Ben Elton is still afflicted with his problem of excessive wording and poor editing, and whereas Stark is funny but overly long (with huge sections of samey samey leftwing sentiments), Blast From The Past is overly long with fewer jokes and far too much dialogue.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A lighterweight quick flick 5 May 2006
I've come to expect big things from Ben Elton, but this ain't it.

The story is good and the characters are good fun. I suspect he's taking the mickey out of aspects of good friends (including himself), and he brings things to life well, as always.

The plot isn't as complete as others he's written though, and there's nothing to really offer the suprise element that he does usually.

Having said that, his class is still there, and my 3 stars indicates that it's good, not bad or excellent. Many writers would love their best efforts to match Eltons weaker ones.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Should have been better 12 July 2005
Blast From The Past is a curious book. I deliberately picked it as my next book to read as I was on a business trip and could read the whole thing in the time I was travelling. It is quite a short book and maybe that's where for me, it lets itself down.
The story is set around a phone call Polly received in the early hours of the morning. From here it hives off into a range of story lines, some happening at the present time and some being flashbacks to major characters pasts.
The main interactions in the book are between Polly, Captain Jack Kent and the completely unnecessary "Bug" who Polly has named as such due to his penchant for stalking her. Her attempt to impersonalise him is admirable, but in all honest completely irrelevant, just as he is as a character.
Books like this that only cover a very short space of time often suffer from either going too fast or too slow. An example of a book that avoided these pit falls is Cathedral by Nelson Demille - an excellent read. Blast From The Past in my mind avoids this problem as well by traversing the ages and looking back at characters past lives, this however loses some of the momentum the main story line has and in my mind chips away at the quality of the book. Ben Elton insists on splicing stories chapter by chapter and doesn't really allow me to get into the book, this is where a longer more thoughtful novel could have succeeded
Overall I have read a lot worse, its interesting in concept and certainly entertaining in parts, I have however read better Ben Elton's, and in all honesty, just better books overall.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Another Chapter Wouldn't Have Gone Amiss 9 Aug 1999
By A Customer
Yes, this book is an entertaining and compulsive read. There are only three real characters - the left-wing, the right-wing, and the lunatic - and each one's viewpoint is put across convincingly. So much so that I found my own opinions swaying as I read. Well, not towards the lunatic's so such, but that's probably just a lack of empathy on my part.
Having finished the book, however, I felt utterly cheated. Without ruining the ending, a darkly humourous tale that spans only a couple of hours (the book is built largely from flashbacks) is ruined by the last page and a half that somehow contrives to lessen the depressing nature of the important relationships in the book.
It doesn't work. The reader is force-fed a completely unforeseen fairy tale, just so that you don't feel sad.
It's a good book, and until the last page I was longing to find out what happened. When I did, I wished that the last page had been ripped out by a malevolent shopkeeper.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Dissappointing - full of stand up routine 19 Aug 1999
By A Customer
Taken in isolation this book isn't too bad. It is a typical Elton book, focusing on the hypocrisy and vulnerability of its three central characters, the left wing activist, the right wing military officer and the deranged stalker.
Despite the politically and socially topical nature of the plot, the story is lifted by the characteristic observational humuour of Elton. This is where I felt slightly cheated. As a longstanding fan of Ben Elton, I had heard/read it all before, to the point where it was no longer funny.
If this is your first introduction to Elton as a writer, or you liked all his other books, you will probably love this. But if you've seen him in stand-up then watch out, there is nothing new here!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Slow start but great playoff
This was a litle slow to get going, and initially felt like Ben Elton was trying to fill a book with a few jokes from his stand up, but once the story got going, it was a very well... Read more
Published 3 months ago by AleBeHonest
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read
I enjoyed reading this, it was very easy to read. The plot was interesting, it's probably a good holiday read
Published 5 months ago by Jo-Anne
4.0 out of 5 stars Great holiday read
Totally enjoyed this. A bit of a thriller, in a way. I didn't see the twists coming. A good airport/holiday read.
Published 8 months ago by P. Larrett
3.0 out of 5 stars Not one of his best
Although a good read, this was neither funny nor a sixpence novel. It fell between the two and so it wasn't that great.
Published 18 months ago by Tony Willson
3.0 out of 5 stars Blast from the past
It was worth a read some funny bits but not the best Ben Elton can produce. Liked Jack he was so macho.
Published 20 months ago by Mrs E J Hill
4.0 out of 5 stars Surprisngly good!
My significant other said he was pretty sure I'd like this book so I gave it a go. The main characters are a bit improbable for a romance - a teenage Greenham Common peacenik and a... Read more
Published on 5 Aug 2011 by Pickupsticks
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book
This was the first Ben Elton book I read and I still love it. The tale of two unlikely former lovers (a soldier and a hippy peacenik who meet up again after many years) keeps you... Read more
Published on 31 May 2011 by StormSworder
5.0 out of 5 stars A sharp page turner that will keep you guessing
The first few pages of this book will keep you turning and you won't stop until it's finished.
When Polly awakes in the middle of the night to her telephone ringing, her first... Read more
Published on 24 May 2011 by Ms. Cl College
1.0 out of 5 stars Boring
Terrible book. Boring from start to finish. Highly predictable. Characters no-one could care about. Awful dialogue. Tragic from someone whose first few books were fantastic.
Published on 27 April 2011 by Rory
3.0 out of 5 stars Funny, but aged
I started this book on a plane journey once, many years ago. I think the person next to me fell asleep and left it on their tray and I thought why waste a good opportunity to... Read more
Published on 15 April 2010 by Apurva
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