The sequel to Sladek's excellent "Roderick", "Roderick at Random" is subtitled "the further education of a young machine". This sees Roderick - ingenuous product of an artificial intelligence project at a fictitious midwestern university - separated from Ma and Pa Wood (the good hearted, though eccentric folks who have raised him), and cast into Sladek's surreal, brassy, outrageously craven, corporate-controled America. An America full of extraordinary characters: the scary entrepreneur/fairground boss, Mr Kratt; the old man busily setting out a complete moral code for all human conduct, the devotees of amazingly loony religious cults, and the unbearably pretentious and tortured new-media artists, among many others. It's a dehumanised America which in the early eighties seemed to be of the not-too-distant future - and still seems so now, even though alot of what Sladek forsaw has already arrived. It's a society in which an artificial young man is treated just like one more unwelcome member of yet another minority faction, even though he is, perhaps, the most human character in the book. With clear echoes of Smollet's "Roderick Random" and a similar dry revelry in maltreatment and impious misfortune, but with a satiric wit and incomparable humour all its own (Sladek has been compared to Vonnegut, Voltaire, and even Frank L. Baum) this is an excellent book - but you might want to read "Roderick" first.