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Blast from the Past Paperback – 1 Jul 1999

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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Black Swan; Export ed edition (1 July 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0552146641
  • ISBN-13: 978-0552146647
  • Product Dimensions: 10.9 x 2.3 x 17.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,003,334 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 out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Praise from the UK for "Blast from the Past: " " The action is tight and well-plotted, the dialogue is punchy, and the whole thing rolls along so nicely." --"The Guardian" " Ben Elton's in top form with this gripping black comedy--a sure-fire hit." --"New Woman" " A lively thriller of sexual politics and morality. Elton's best book yet." --"Elle" " Blast from the Past is Elton at his most outrageously entertaining." --"Cosmopolitan" "From the Hardcover edition."

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It was 2:15 in the morning when the telephone rang. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Phil Latham on 10 April 2007
Format: Paperback
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 By Some Bloke on 5 May 2006
Format: Paperback
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 By Chris Chalk on 12 July 2005
Format: Paperback
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By C. Sperry on 13 Aug. 2004
Format: Paperback
Having previously read Dead Famous and High Society, I was expecting more of the same. Unfortunately, BFTP is not in that league and left me a little disappointed. It suffers from having too few characters, and a plot which is just too simplistic. This could work if the characters made you care about them at all, but for me that never happened; their lives were fragmented and a little boring, and yet Ben Elton insisted on repeatedly describing them at length. The twist at the end was fine, but didn't justify the trawl through over fifty chapters to get to it.
Having said all that, Ben Elton's writing is quite easy to read, and although this book left me feeling unsatisfied, I managed to get through it reasonably easily.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 9 Aug. 1999
Format: Paperback
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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