by NORMAN SPINRAD
Publisher:HARPERCOLLINS PUBLISHERS LTD
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
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