Friday, November 16, 2007

Aaron's Book of the Week :: Bug Jack Barron by Norman Spinrad

Bug Jack BarronThe Book of the Week is my recently acquired first edition of Bug Jack Barron by Norman Spinrad, published in 1969 by Walker & Co., cover art by Jack Gaughan. A classic example of near-future social science fiction published within the SF genre (and almost entirely unknown outside the genre), Bug Jack Barron tells of the clash of wills between an immensely popular TV talk show host and a billionaire monopolist. This will remain science fiction satire until the day Oprah Winfrey and Bill Gates get really angry with each other.

Bug Jack Barron was a deliberately outrageous and controversial example of the 1960's "New Wave" of science fiction. The first edition of Bug Jack Barron proudly includes a cover blurb from renowned editor Donald A. Wollheim, denouncing the book as "depraved, cynical, utterly repulsive and thoroughly degenerate." The British New Wave magazine New Worlds published a shortened version of the novel, prompting a debate in Parliament over whether to withdraw government support for the magazine.

Bug Jack Barron was nominated for both the Hugo and Nebula Awards for Best Novel of 1969. Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five was also a nominee for the awards, but both novels lost out to our last Book of the Week, The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin.

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