Bad Ballard is better than good [insert name of any 2nd rate modern dystopian novelist], but the fact remains that this is a bad Ballard novel. If you're a fan it's worth reading for the flawless prose, but I'd hate to think newcomers to Ballard would start here and leave with the wrong impression. This book follows similar themes to the preceding three (Cocaine Nights, SuperCannes, Millenium People), but here credulity is stretched just a little too far, and in the absence of strong supporting characters the plot just caves in on itself. The main protagonist, Richard Pearson doesn't convince, but even less convincing are his interactions with the secondary characters (doctor, lawyer, police sergeant, psychiatrist - standard Ballardian middle-class pillars of the community). Within seconds of meeting, poor Richard is being whisked off to crime scenes, philosophised at, flirted with, and generally tossed around from scene to scene so quickly I began to feel giddy. Easy intimacy between characters who have barely met is a Ballardian trademark, but it's difficult to bring this off in a way that convinces and here he fails. Two stars for the prose and one for the consumerism/fascism theme.