Report on Probability A
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‘A mindwrenching conception that forces one to question every common notion of human awareness, space-time, and perceptual reality’ TRIBUNE
‘Devilishly clever… an exuberant imagination meets a passionate intelligence’ GUARDIAN'
For decades, Brian Aldiss has been among our most prolific and consistently stylish writers' THE TELEGRAPH--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
About the Author
Brian Aldiss, OBE, is a fiction and science fiction writer, poet, playwright, critic, memoirist and artist. He was born in Norfolk in 1925. After leaving the army, Aldiss worked as a bookseller, which provided the setting for his first book, The Brightfount Diaries (1955). His first published science fiction work was the story ‘Criminal Record’, which appeared in Science Fantasy in 1954. Since then he has written nearly 100 books and over 300 short stories.--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Top Customer Reviews
These days, it makes a lot more sense to me, but the persistent dream element is still present.
In some ways it is reminiscent of Ballard’s ‘Concrete Island’ in its minimalist setting and is one of those books that should have been a cult classic. If it ever was, it was a very minor one, which is a bit of a shame. As strange and surreal as it is, it’s a brave and oddly compelling novel which begins on an ordinary suburban setting, bordering on the banal, and grows steadily weirder.
Written in the form of a report, it is composed in the main of a third person monologue of obsessive detail, following the movements of three men who inhabit various outhouses in the garden of a Mr Mary. These men are known respectively as G, S & C.
They spend their day watching the house, each of them obsessed with observing the mysterious Mrs Mary.
The report is being analysed by humans in a parallel universe, who themselves are being watched by another group who are also under observation. The chain, we are led to believe, continues into infinity.
It is a tribute to Aldiss’ power of narrative that the very obsessiveness and banality of the observed ‘probability’ detailed (literally) in the report becomes an intriguing portrait of a world in which the process of Time has broken down.Read more ›
Here is what happens: three men named G., S., and C. watch a house. Other people watch them. The end.
Well, see, there's people watching people. And more people watching those people. And more people watching them. And you, reading the book. Or not.
And no, there is no point. If you read this book you may come to the last page and get angry. You may wish to know what the point is. That's fine. That's a good question. This is a perfectly normal reaction.
The book functions in the same way as a painting which recurs as an image throughout: we perceive things in one limited snapshot of time. We are asked to provide our own context. We are asked to decide what happens next ourselves.
Aldiss was one of the science fiction "new wave" authors of the 60s, trying to reconfigure science fiction from its pulp roots to a form which would serve to deal with people. I believe it was JG Ballard that coined the term "inner space" for this sort of thing. Whatever. 'Report..' is a fantastic, flawed examination of what a novel is in relation to the reader, shored up somewhat by the hokey old science fiction concept of the parallel world. And in its own way, hilarious.
Withdrawn from print in 1962 for being 'too radical' (re-released in 1968 and 1999), Report on Probability A is ostensibly the story of three unknown individuals' bizarre, and often disturbing, surveillance of subject: Mrs. Mary
Forget 'story', forget 'narrative arc', RoPA breaks just about every convention we adhere to in modern fiction. At all times, the protagonists remain singularly abstruse, and this situation is made even more baffling when it is revealed that the three nameless 'watchers' are being 'watched' by somebody else, who in turn is being watched by somebody else, and somebody else...
Interested in something entirely removed from the clichéd fiction we are so often plied with these days? Give this tale of paranoia, altered perception and relative viewpoint a chance: I guarantee you will not be disappointed.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
i remember reading this book many years ago - and i dont remember it for good reasons, but because it was so utterly boring. Read morePublished on 21 Aug. 2011 by Captain Kirk
A man sits in a house. He looks out the window. Across the street is another house. In the other house there is a family, coming and going, carrying out their domestic business. Read morePublished on 5 Nov. 2009 by Blackhorse47