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Bug Jack Barron Paperback – 12 Oct 1999


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Paperback, 12 Oct 1999
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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Toxic; New edition edition (12 Oct 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1902002180
  • ISBN-13: 978-1902002187
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 13.3 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,111,846 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

Norman Spinrad made his biggest SF splash with Bug Jack Barron, whose 1967--68 New Worlds serialisation brought raging controversy which Michael Moorcock discusses in an afterword. It's a quintessential 1960s novel, prophetically highlighting the irresponsible power of mass media and corporations.

TV megastar Jack Barron hosts the wildly popular Bug Jack Barron, a phone-in show that listens to public gripes and puts politicians and bosses on the spot--live. Naturally Barron pulls his punches for safety's sake...until he tangles with paranoid billionaire Benedict Howards, peddler of cryonic immortality, and walks into a minefield of deadly cover-ups. Violence erupts. Howards believes he can buy anyone, even Barron's estranged wife, even Barron. Barron doesn't mind selling out if the coin is immortality. On TV, the power remains all his:

As they rolled the final commercial Barron felt a weird manic exhilaration, knowing that he had set up a focus of forces that could squash the five-hundred-billion-dollar Foundation for Human Immortality like a bug if Bennie proved dumb enough to not holler "Uncle".
The Foundation's medical secret--poor science but still packing a vicious gut-punch--is more appalling than Barron's nastiest guesses; by the time he learns the truth he's ensnared in complicity. Worse things follow. At the climax, with nothing left to lose, our man goes for broke in a desperate effort to crack Howards open in Barron's own glowing TV arena, in front of 100,000,000 viewers....Slightly dated and occasionally crude, but still hyper-intense, memorable stuff. --David Langford

Synopsis

Bug Jack Barron is a controversial science fiction novel that managed to upset the British Parliament because of its depiction of the power of money and money''s corrosive effect upon the media.'

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By DocMartin on 1 Dec 2005
Format: Paperback
Perhaps the defining mark of what makes a science fiction classic is how future generation will judge the book. One generation on, this dark, gripping tale has an even greater hold on the reader than it did in 1968. Derided at the time for its “hippy” portrayal of the future power of global corporations and television networks, the future universe in which the mercenary Jack Baron operates his televisual human puppet show is now all too believable. In fact, one almost wonders why nobody has yet started a “Bug” show, whereby audiences can phone in to get some celebrity to phone politicians and business executives and harangue them for their perceived misdemeanours in the name of social justice, public interest and ¬- above all else - the level of ratings where advertising sells for a small fortune.
The novel was also given a lot of stick for being the first science fiction book to use the 'F' word, although by modern standards, the language is quite tame and I can recall reading a wonderful critique of the time, taking the author to task for his 'preposterous' prediction that America would ever have Ronald Reagan as its president ¬- as I said, the world is a totally believable one to a 21st century audience!
This is science fiction, and Norman Spinrad, at their respective bests. The book easily crosses the divide between mainstream novel and science fiction - there are no aliens called Gloop from the planet Glup, just ordinary people falling in love, being haunted by their pasts and buckling to the corruptive lure of power, fame and immortality. The first time I read this book was during my morning commute into London for a job I detested; the week it took me to savour every word was the only time in three years I got out of bed relishing the journey. Totally absorbing, shocking and riveting: a unique tale, and by far Spinrad's greatest work.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Joss Delage on 13 Nov 2000
Format: Paperback
This is a great pre-cyberpunk novel. The main character, Jack Barron, is a TV journalist. His nemesis and arch-villain is one rich and ruthless industrial. He enjoys picking on that guy, and playing the part of the chivalrous, 1st amendment fanatic journalist. No problem...
Then, one day, he for a change decides to run with a different story: someone has apparently been ... hmm ... buying young children from poor, very poor families... Over the course of a few weeks, Jack Barron will discover how those events are connected, who is behind all that (you have one guess...) and what is the goal behind them (do you like the idea of dying? Just asking...)
Then, he will be face with the ultimate challenge... What exactly is the price of his silence?
A very good book, much better written than many other Spinrad books (he's a little bit too weird for my taste, at times...) A great read.
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By K. Morris on 11 Mar 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This could only have been written in the 60s and is an eerie prediction of what has come to pass on television. Plus the search for eternal youth which today is as desperate as it was in this book but manifested by surgery and injections. One for the cultural historians.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By northeastnostromo on 4 Jun 2013
Format: Paperback
For a brief time you could believe Spinrad was going to be up there with Zelazny & Silverberg, sadly he couldn't maintain the standard - but this is a great book which hardly seems like SF at all now.
Check out 'The Men in the Jungle' and the short story collection 'Last hurrah of the Golden Horde'
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 19 reviews
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
SF that's all too real. 19 Oct 2000
By S Smyth - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
If you've got a problem, bug Jack Barron, the television personality with one-hundred million viewers. If you've got $50,000.00 in liquid assets, contact the Foundation of Immortality and Benedict Howards will have you frozen until technology can bring you round and cure your ailment - forever. So a Negro without his assets in a suitably liquid state bugs Jack Barron, about how he's been refused a place in the Foundation of Immortality's freezers; that he's being racially prejudiced. This claim is refuted, and in order to win Jack Barron's allegiance Benedict Howards offers Jack Barron the chance of immortality - for real - forever. And whilst Jack Barron is sorely tempted to play along, their comes a point beyond which even he won't cross...
Only the slang and political references in this book would be a problem to today's younger readers. Apart from that, the ideas are all still fresh and, for the most part, fully realised in today's television culture. This book is consistent with the quality of writing in Norman Spinrad's `No Direction Home', and which I would like to see more of.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Paranoiasville 18 Jun 2008
By doomsdayer520 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
In the late 1960s, the "new wave" of science fiction writers unleashed a flood of mind-expanded and civil rights-obsessed product that probably seemed brilliant and insightful at the time, but most of which now seems laughably dated and self-indulgent. But just like any cultural craze, a few specimens have long-term staying power, as long as future readers can get past the crusty slang and political references. This 1969 offering from Norman Spinrad, his fourth novel and the one that really made his name, sometimes threatens to collapse under creaky hipster dialogue and the social paranoia of its times. But underneath is a brilliantly constructed political thriller in a (then-) near future.

The promise of immortality leads to a massive power struggle between a corrupt plutocrat and the title character, a self-righteous media manipulator whose attack-dog style is a downright eerie premonition of the O'Reillys that the real world has since delivered. (But at least Barron eventually develops a bit of a conscience.) Spinrad concocted an equally impressive exploration of the bleak future possibilities of around-the-clock media saturation and image-obsessed politics, and also delivered winning messages on the true natures of power and inequality. In 1969, such messages were in Spinrad's near future and are now in our near past. While some aspects of this book are definitely showing their age, the underlying messages of techno-political corruption and social paranoia are timeless, not to mention expertly constructed in this relentlessly brutal story. [~doomsdayer520~]
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Wonderful Read, Wonderful Imagination 24 July 2001
By J. A Magill - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Norman Spinrad is one of those authors who never "broke out" but not because of the quality of his work. I would rank him with Ellison and Dick for quality. In short, he should be one of the greats.
His imagination is so rich that you will spend as much, or more, time thinking about what you are reading as actually reading his work. This book is a tremendous example of his gift. Spinrad understands the direction our purient privacy denying society twenty years before we arrived in our current sorry state.
If anything, reading this book you often forget when he was writing because the society he describes is seemingly so famil
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Cyberpunk, before Gibson & co... 6 May 2000
By Joss Delage - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a great pre-cyberpunk novel. The main character, Jack Barron, is a TV journalist. His nemesis and arch-villain is one rich and ruthless industrial. He enjoys picking on that guy, and playing the part of the chivalrous, 1st amendment fanatic journalist. No problem...
Then, one day, he for a change decides to run with a different story: someone has apparently been ... hmm ... buying young children from poor, very poor families... Over the course of a few weeks, Jack Barron will discover how those events are connected, who is behind all that (you have one guess...) and what is the goal behind them (do you like the idea of dying? Just asking...)
Then, he will be face with the ultimate challenge... What exactly is the price of his silence?
A very good book, much better written than many other Spinrad books (he's a little bit too weird for my taste, at times...) A great read.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Funny disturbing believable 23 Dec 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Spinrad kicks the media, politicians and corporations where it hurts, and leaves the reader laughing until it hurts. Apparently denounced as depraved on the floor of parliament, beneath the toungue in cheek it's a disturbing discourse on the corrupting nature of money and power, in a world where your bank balance decides whether you will be granted life eternal. Comment on the power of media is prescient, with the title character's eponymous TV talk show's grip on the masses the only thing in the way of the nefarious plans of a mad, necrophobic billionare who throws gobs of money at private research into cryogenics and immortality, and is willing to go to any lengths to get his sinister 'freezer bill' through congress, and avert 'a million years of worm eaten nothingness'. The title character is so laid back he's teetering, aided by Spinrad's ear for slick dialogue. His wonderful pre-emptive speech in the presence of political heavies about cutting to the chase through the standard smoke-filled room rhetoric and double talk schtick is side splitting. The 'near-future' setting is somewhat dated but this matters little against the searing satire and shamelessly wicked characters. The ending was a little abrubt and unsatisfying, but this is a minor quibble against an SF classic.
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