Sunday, January 15, 2012

Book Review: Bug Jack Barron

As someone who has spent the last four years getting a degree focusing on media and communications studies, reviewing a science fiction novel focused on a media personality in a dark future may be a troubling prospect, what with all the bias and educational background and all. Luckily for you my dear readers, I will have none of those problems.

Just in case you were worried.


Here’s the thing, for the last few years I’ve been working my way through David Pringle’s SF The Top 100 books published in English from 1945 – 1985 and although I loved the books of the ’40s and ‘50s, a lot of the stuff in the (especially late) ‘60s just came across as flowery/free-form poetry that took forever to make its point and often could have been cut way down. But now, after reading my Moorcock and Burroughs and Ellison I come across this book and all of that writing style suddenly came together into something that I just loved.

In the world of Bug Jack Barron (by Norman Spinrad), Jack hosts a massively popular television show (think a mixture of Oprah, Larry King and mid-nineties Jerry Springer) and is considered to be the voice of the people. In reality his persona and show are carefully crafted products, working to establish the perfect balance between sensationalism and legal tap-dancing. Jack is focused on making cash and although years ago he was something of a rebel, these days he simply grooms that image to play better to the audience. Inevitably he gets involved with a story bigger than anything he could have imagined.

The story itself focuses on roles of the media, ethical dilemmas and the concept of immortality. It’s a lot of fun and although the style of prose takes a while to get used to, it is definitely worth your time.

A Great read.

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