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Reviews Written by
John Ault (Edinburgh, Scotland)

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Harlot's Ghost
Harlot's Ghost
by Mailer Norman
Edition: Paperback

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Try to CIA it my way, 17 Sept. 2003
This review is from: Harlot's Ghost (Paperback)
This is a huge and very satisfying book. It takes us through a career in the CIA, and is a gripping account of the paranoia and arrogance of that organisation. It takes us through cold war events and locations, such as Berlin and the Bay of Pigs fiasco. It also deals with the seedier side of the JFK world. It will not take a conspiracy theory expert to figure out where it is all heading.
The book bursts with huge characters and excellent dialogue, and is littered with wonderful detail about the spying methods, dirty tricks and the control of information. The detail never becomes tedious, as it can in, say, Len Deighton.
The Harlot of the title, incidentally, is a spy and spymaster who is driven and focused, and has enormous presence on the page.
At over 1,000 pages, the book genuinely sustains an excellent pace. Take it on a long journey, or a holiday, and never look back.

The Drought
The Drought
by J. G. Ballard
Edition: Paperback

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The un-drowned world, 16 Sept. 2003
This review is from: The Drought (Paperback)
This is a compelling and all-too-real piece of science fiction. Ballard focuses on only a few characters, and sketches the wider events. This makes the portrait of the collapse of society all the more troubling.
The descent from civilisation to primitive tribal life on the edge is convincing. A perpetual drought forces people to the edge of the sea, where the competition for water and food is intense. Only a few survive. As ever, Ballard is working at two levels, and this is also the descent into the characters losing their very identities. Most of the survivors live in subjugation. While in "The Drowned World" the characters find their primeval selves, here they risk losing all identity.
The end is not the strongest part of the book, but perhaps the problem with Ballard's method is having no where further to go when everything has changed.
Well worth the journey.

Counter-Clock World (Voyager Classics)
Counter-Clock World (Voyager Classics)
by Philip K. Dick
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Philip K Dick at his quirky best with a tricky subject, 15 Jun. 2001
Philip K Dick's books are always more rewarding for the intricate settings than for the plots. The settings challenge our ideas about our own reality. The ideas in this book have stayed vivid for a long time.
Time running backwards is a difficult subject to do well. At a perfect level, we would simply be unable to comprehend a description of backwards time. Martin Amis has a separate intelligence as narrator, whose mind runs the same way as ours while the world around him has time that runs the other way. Philip K Dick's take is to leave his characters with forward running minds, but place them in a world where all of life is backwards. People get younger and then have to look for mothers so that they can be born. The garbage men bring the rubbish. Restaurants are not pleasant to consider. It is the character's adaptation to this reality that tells us so much about how weird our own civilisation really is.

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