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Incompetence (Gollancz S.F.)
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Incompetence (Gollancz S.F.)

3.79  ·  Rating Details  ·  980 Ratings  ·  66 Reviews
Bad is the new good. In the not too distant future the European Union enacts its most far reaching human rights legislation ever. The incompetent have been persecuted for too long. After all it's not their fault they can't do it right, is it? So it is made illegal to sack or otherwise discriminate against anyone for being incompetent. And now a murder has been committed an ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published December 31st 2003 by Gollancz (first published 2003)
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Dec 17, 2007 Jon rated it liked it
Recommends it for: lovers of satire, Red Dwarf fans
Incompetence begins fabulously, and I'm not just talking about the first page, or even sentence. Take a close look at the cover: notice the misplaced "e"? That's what caught my eye at the bookstore, and having never before heard of Rob Grant, I bought the book based solely on the strength of that cover alone. "Surely," I thought, "anyone who can purposely misspell the word 'incompetence' on the cover of a novel is a writer to be dealt with." In many ways I was right, but in many ways I think thi ...more
Apr 08, 2012 Holly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Probably the most sarcastic book I've ever read. Could not stop laughing.
Feb 24, 2012 Rumi rated it did not like it
I've been keeping this book on my "currently-reading" shelf forever because I wanted to give it a worthy review, with examples of all the things that led me to believe that this is the worst book I've ever read.

What a shame that a good idea can turn out mediocre because someone didn't have the patience to work on it properly. I've noticed that a lot with books and movies recently. I was so eager to read this book after I saw it in the bookstore. I expected something splendidly satiric from it, b
May 07, 2009 Martin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who get sarcasm (i.e. not Americans)
The author obviously has a flair for writing. Unfortunately this flair may be limited to haiku, as on or about the eighth line I started to get sever pain in the front right lobe of my brain: This is the first time I have ever experienced deja vu as other than an existential event.

The first chapter was tough going. The author has a particular style and likes to hammer it home paragraph after paragraph remorselessly. Things got better for me further in, but I think this was a combination of my ac
Thomas Jancis
Jun 14, 2009 Thomas Jancis rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who want a fun read.
Recommended to Thomas by: Foggy
This, according to a friend, was the funniest book he had ever read. He had been looking for it for years. As we walked away from the shop, he was chortling away as he read.
It was funny but the world’s best? I guess it must be more about the time he read it.
Nothing really “happens” in this book. The love interest just “is” and appears in one scene. The great mystery of the killer is kind of obvious.
But you’re not reading this for the biting plot. You’re reading it for the setups and moments of h
Incompetence is a comedy noir-esque novel by Rob Grant, best known for his work as one half of Grant Naylor, the writers of Red Dwarf. Set in the near future where United States of Europe Article 13199 has banned basing hiring and firing practices on a person's competence level, Harry Salt - deep undercover agent for an British/European intelligence agency - has to unravel the mysterious death of fellow cell member Klingferm, committed by the anonymous and dangerous Jack Appleseed.

If that sounds
David Jones
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Rob Kitchin
This is a somewhat of a curious book. A kind of futuristic, comic noir. Its strengths are some very well written, clever and genuinely funny scenes. The weaknesses the unevenness and disjointedness of the whole work and the fact that story is pretty much all surface and no depth. Essentially the book consists of a set of linked set pieces framed within a future united Europe that is overly bureaucratic and largely dysfunctional. Everything is subordinate to the gags in the set pieces, which mean ...more
Aug 02, 2010 Robert rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dystopia
Incompetence is a book that loves to rant. In fact, it is about 85% rant, and 15% plot. Which makes it a bit difficult to review without giving too much plot away. In a nutshell, the story is set in a near future where the EU and political correctness have led to discrimination based on competence being abolished. The result? A society where the vast majority of things don't quite work, and most people are annoying nincompoops. In the middle of all this, a kind of super secret agent is following ...more
John Kirk
Aug 17, 2011 John Kirk rated it liked it
I enjoyed this. The ostensible plot is really just a framing sequence to allow a sequence of interludes, but that's ok since they're funny. The internal logic doesn't always work, e.g. at one point the protagonist gets stuck in a lift and blames himself for being foolish enough to trust it, but later he criticises a paramedic for choosing the stairs over the lift. Also, even if there are plenty of incompetent people being given jobs, what happened to all the competent people? Colony handled that ...more
Dec 07, 2013 Sylvian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book for bought for me by a friend on the last day of college. In it contained a note explaining how I should still be myself regardless of what the rest of the world is like.

Interestingly enough, I see myself as a particularly incompetent person, I feel I'm terrible at my job, awful at keeping girlfriends and generally unable to grasp social situations without over-thinking everything.

So what a relief Rob Grant came along. Rob Grant, Rob Grant. Rob Grant was one of the original writers of
Jean Barrett
Jul 14, 2014 Jean Barrett rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this when I started packing up to move, and re-read it. I'd forgotten just how funny it was. It made me laugh out loud. I'm not sure the humour would suit everyone, and if you're looking for a smart who-done-it, then give it a miss. What it is, in a slap stick type of way, is incredibly funny.
Rob Grant wrote Red Dwarf, so if you don't like that, you may not like this book, but he has a genius way of taking the mundane and seeing a situation in it.
Fabio Albertin
Mar 08, 2014 Fabio Albertin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although this book was written before the current string of crises, it does do a great job of painting a dystopian but also sadly very realistic picture of a future Europe, kind of like the movie Idiocracy did for the United States.

If people don't awake from the political correctness stupor, then we will indeed soon have as unqualified and inept idiots in position of responsibility like in the novel. So please, let's make sure this remains fiction!
Kristine Morris
ha ha ha. Truly funny. A very good break from what I am currently reading....short stories by Alice Munro. This felt a bit like Vonnegut and Tom Robbins together. I loved the vegetable shoes, NSS or non-specific stupidity and the episode with the train ticket clerk and the bell. Reading the entire chapter about the Paris car rental was frustrating only because that type if incompetence is only too real. And I love Harry's internal rage..."I am prepared to hire another car. Can we do that? Can we ...more
As a big Red Dwarf fan, I thought I'd give this book a go. It reminded me of the film 'Idiocracy', which I also found really funny, if a bit scary for what it says about our future. An easy read for light relief, which made me laugh out loud.
Sep 03, 2013 Dark-Draco rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, humour
A hilarious, well written romp of a book.

It's the story of Harry Salt, a dectective cum spy, who lives in a world straining under the burden of a European Directive that makes it impossible to fire someone just because they are incompetent at their job. Hence pilots with vertigo, a geriatric male bunny girl and a police captain with anger management issues - serious issues. Through all this, Salt has to find who murdered his colleague and work out where his luggage actually went!

I laughed out lo
Feb 11, 2014 Raymond rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is very imaginative, active, fast paced at times, gripping and at times gory. I will not give away any of the story but it will keep you wondering why this guy is doing what he is doing and what he does for a living. The main character by the end has more lumps thin a wet pillow. Does he survive? Read it and see but beware for you are going on a fast trip with numerous stops.
May 24, 2015 Daune rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was given this book as a present by my sister and I had no idea what to expect - I laughed and laughed and laughed. It made me cry with laughter.
This book is a brilliant look into a future that is much closer than you may think... I'm a world where incompetence is not grounds for being fired, anyone can do any job, no matter how poor they are at it. The narrator may be an excellent secret agent, but in a world where no one can agree which streets are one way and where vegetable leather shoes are the only shoes readily available thanks to animal rights activist, catching a murderer is next to impossible. This book made me laugh till I cri ...more
Aug 09, 2013 Jay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Do not go into this book expecting it to be about what it says it is....

This is an amusing and unpredictable detective novel- at no point is the incompetence of the title elaborated on, it serves as background and little else. Obviously if you look into the world painted here, you would see a total lack of sense- just because you cannot discriminate against someone for being rubbish at their job doesn't mean the worst person will get it every time. This aside, Rob Grant is humorous and though th
Milan Raška
Mar 05, 2014 Milan Raška rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fun, fun and fun. Cant say much more about this book with great STory full of fun:)
David Watkins
Very funny in parts, but a bit of a 'rant' book overall. Pretty much as ludicrous as you'd expect from half the Red Dwarf team and very entertaining. It tails off towards the end, and the plot is both obvious and non-important. I enjoyed it, but wouldn't rush to read another by Rob Grant.
Aug 21, 2014 Jen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A strange and somewhat vent-ful story which demonstrates a frustration with modern society tied up in a comedic film noir yet futuristic setting. Somewhat tougher than some Red Dwarf fans might be ready for, but in the same vein as the later Red Dwarf novels. Silly and enjoyable with aggressive undertones.
Vasil Kolev
Somewhat funny, but too much over-the-top.
Apr 17, 2014 Sloth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humour
Genius! Havn't laughed so much since reading Ben Elton's Chart Thob
Jul 23, 2015 Sarah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have read a few of Rob Grant's other books so knew I would like the style. I'm also a big fan of Red Dwarf. I did laugh out loud several times reading this book but I found that the overall story was just too farcical for me to fully enjoy.
A.L. Butcher
I liked this but in places I found it hard going. It is slow to start and some of the jokes are quite amusing in a dark humour way but a lot of it comes across as a bit of a rant. Some of the scenes go on for a little to long.
I enjoyed the mystery, and although I guessed who the villain was I was not expecting the ending.

Not as funny as the Red Dwarf books but overall an amusing read if you like sarcastic humour.
Fun little satire of a book. The sort of thing that I would recommend reading on holiday - not too taxing but a good read to have sat outside in the sunshine with a nice drink. Semi-reminiscent of the Red Dwarf series in the sense that it shares a lot of the same humour - mostly simple and silly observations about people. Still, rather entertaining and worth picking up.
Andrew Booth
Mar 06, 2014 Andrew Booth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
Simple an funny. Nothing complex about the way this is written. Very funny, and written like Tom Holt, with a joke every line. There's a bit of a grumpy old man in Grant's writing, as the main character encounters situations that just shouldn't be, and are caused by downright incompetence. Think of a world populated by Hitchhikers 'B' Ark and you'll know what I mean.
Aug 18, 2012 Christopher rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
A terrible, terrible book. I haven't given up partway through a novel in a long time, but I could just no longer justify wasting my time on it. Absolutely, laboriously unfunny. An annoying, tired and viciously overlong complaint about ham-fisted caricatures of the world done in an narrative voice that manages at once to be intolerably smug and utterly inane.
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“Rome was buzzing. Quite literally. Absolutely everyone had a mobile phone, and absolutely everybody was calling absolutely everybody else absolutely all the time. I wondered if there were some law making them compulsory. Frighteningly, it's possible, these days. I swear I saw a street beggar stop and take a call on his cellular. I even heard a trill from a baby carriage, but it turned out to be a toy mobile phone. They start dickhead training early in Italy.” 3 likes
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