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Barefoot in the Head (Corgi SF Collector's Library)

3.36 of 5 stars 3.36  ·  rating details  ·  217 ratings  ·  30 reviews
When an undeclared Acid Head War breaks out, Britain is the first to be devastated by Psycho-Chemical Aerosols--tasteless, odourless, colourless psychedelic drugs, which distort the minds of thousands of civilians into extreme terror or extreme joy. When the warped citizens of Europe proclaim Colin Charteris their hero, he finds himself leading an unfathomable crusade in a ...more
Mass Market Paperback, Corgi SF Collector's Library, 236 pages
Published 1974 by Corgi Books (first published 1969)
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(showing 1-30 of 596)
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The Girl at the Inn

The city was open to the nomad
The fountain sparkled for his lips

But at the inn the girl who served there
Had nothing to spare a traveller

The traveller settled at the inn
Although he left his bill unpaid

The girl no longer held him strange
One day she let him clasp her lightly

And then that night he clasped her tightly
Now she lets him clasp her nightly
Wrongly rightly clasp her nightly

The traveller sang
He loved the girl
And was captive of the city

This was their tiny personal story
I've been curious about this book ever since I read a review of the 1990 Thurston Moore/Borbetomagus record that named itself after Aldiss's work (Thomas Pynchon wrote the liner notes to that thing). Anyhow, I guess I "enjoyed" this book, though really Barefoot in the Head is such an experimental work that I found myself more admiring its ambitions than gushing over its underdeveloped achievements. It's basically a psychedelic relic from 1969, a supposed sci-fi meisterwerk bathed in some of the ...more
-Muchas rutas llevan a Interzona. Algunos se pierden por el camino-.

Género. Ciencia-Ficción.

Lo que nos cuenta. En el futuro, los habitantes de Europa viven bajo los efectos alucinógenos de las bombas de aerosol psicomimético arrojadas durante la última guerra. El protagonista, oriundo de los Balcanes (zona menos afectada por el efecto lisérgico que otras regiones, o eso cree él), sigue sus anhelos de juventud (¿o ha sido destinado por la Organización de las Naciones Unidas Renovadas?) y viaja ha
Allan Dyen-shapiro
I decided to try to read Finnegan's Wake before this one, as Aldiss apparently patterned it upon Joyce's work. Although I couldn't get through much of Joyce--I've heard it said that only many literature graduate students reading it together could possibly make sense of it--I read enough to appreciate what Aldiss was doing. The setting is Europe after Muslims have bombed it in a war and released psychedelics that have much of Europe (except France) on a continuous acid trip. The protagonist is un ...more
Pete Golden
Oct 07, 2014 Pete Golden rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone whos willing to open thier minds
Recommended to Pete by: everytime ive had it it just came to me, the 1st time it just appeared on my bed 2nd time moved into a new apartment and it was the only thing left behind by the previos renters, like a gift on the mantle
simply the most brilliant book ever written, however it requires a special relationship with the reader
the reader must be willing to not read it..but experience it with a free and open mind a mind that can drift in and out of reality that can experience a deep meaning hidden behind a seemingly random nearly catastrophic collision of words.
you cannot read this book like a book not like any other book at least you have to let it drift through you

its very much like those 3d art paintings that on th
Roddy Williams

is set in a strange and elemental era. The world had died – or what was good in it had died – and all that was left was confusion and disorder.
Colin Charteris had been an ordinary young man – once. But in a drug-distorted society he became a saviour – a hero who was to lead a doomed crusade into bomb-scarred Europe – a Europe that was to prove everything and nothing to the man who went Barefoot in the Head…’

Blurb from the 1974 Corgi SF Collector’s Edition

This is not an easy
Alan Smith
This wildly experimental novel by Brian Aldiss takes place in a Britain devastated by "Acid Warfare" - in which the main weapons are undetectable drugs which force their victims into absolute joy or extreme terror. Into the chaos of a society desperately attempting to recover from the conflict comes Colin Charteris, a Serbian who has named himself after his favorite writer (Yes, the Leslie Charteris who wrote "The Saint") - and Charteris soon finds himself becoming the Messiah to a population ba ...more
Barefoot in the Head is one of the finest things to emerge from the wreckage of the 1960s.

It is not by any means an easy read, indeed it is far more experimental in forms and style that many more feted non-sf avant-garde works. The prose and poems (some of which individually are really fine pieces of work) and songs and at times simply patterns of letters that compose the work are fragmentary and fractured - the ravings of minds changed beyond recognition by mind-altering psychotropic weapons. Y
Oct 23, 2007 James rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: ????????
Shelves: science-fiction
This book was utterly ridiculous and I will admit that I gave up with about 30 pages left to go (something I never do). The novel takes place in England after a devastating world war that was finally won by releasing psycho-hallucinagenic bombs into countries around the world. Simply put, nearly everyone on the planet is trapped in a permanent LSD trip. One man, a vagrant named Charteris is unaffected, and as he drives into England, the inhabitants decide that he must be the Messiah. He plays al ...more
Well, this was a strange one!

Following a collossal dropping of acid the world disintegrates, fractures; society crumbles, struggles. Amidst this confusion comes a man who could be a new messiah, or is he simply another soul on a head trip pulling some followers along with him. The idea of a society deliberately destroyed through drugs is an interesting one, and the format of the novel suits the situation: language is cut up, sometimes nonsensical, words misspelt giving them double meanings. The
Dale Houstman
I read this "back in the day" - the 1960s, when this book's themes and cultural backdrop were brand new stuff. It is not easy reading, as one has to sort out the "hallucinated language" from the substance of "actuality" but the going gets smoother as you roll along on the trip. Like so many artistic avenues, science fiction was caught up in the experimentalism and cultural challenges of the time, and some of the finest work in the field either happened then or grew out of its ideals and - yes - ...more
Jason Katz
This is the only Brian Aldiss novel I failed to finish. I'm sorry, Brian, I tried. You're one of my favourite authors, because you are clearly one of the best, but I just couldn't do it. Experimental writing is, I suppose, not really my thing anyway, so maybe I'm not the intended audience. In any case, if James Joyce's modernist epics are your favourite books of all time, then by all means, have at it.
Nov 21, 2008 Ubik rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Aldiss completists, people who actually got through Naked Lunch
I tried. I really really tried, but I ended up getting about halfway through this book. Ive only read one other Aldiss, and I understand this one to be the only "incomprehensible" one, so I have faith in his other work regardless of how trying this piece was.

This is literally as if someone frying balls on acid were to try and write prose. In a weird sorta way "I get it"...cant really explain it, but mostly I dont get it at all. When it was focusing on the main character, even when he was frying,
Flow In
an amazing book that i read at university. never having tried drugs, i certainly was hallucinating by about 3/4 of the way through this book. i tried it again a few years later and made it a little further before my brain started to melt.

there is a constant play on words, on language, on the use of language, on the meaning of self, of identity. quite accomplished. i was pulled into the protagonist's world, then as his point of view degraded, t pulled me down with it. if i recall, it was when the
Flow In
an amazing book that i read at university. never having tried drugs, i certainly was hallucinating by about 3/4 of the way through this book. i tried it again a few years later and made it a little further before my brain started to melt.

there is a constant play on words, on language, on the use of language, on the meaning of self, of identity. quite accomplished. i was pulled into the protagonist's world, then as his point of view degraded, t pulled me down with it. if i recall, it was when the
Earl Biringer
Three stars for sheer chutzpa. I have no idea what else to say about this one...
Europe is bombed with a psychotropic weapon that puts the entire population in a permanent hallucinogenic state -- except for Charteris, who is strangely unaffected. He embarks on a somewhat Ballardian quest to the epicenter in Eastern Europe, only to find his narrative start to splinter as he travels into more severely affected areas of the continent. To make matters stranger, the tripped-out locals begin to treat him as some sort of messiah. Barefoot in the Head is an interesting experiment wi ...more
David Rutter
I have tried and tried to get to the end of this book, but I find myself completely unconcerned with the milieu or interested in the futures of any of the characters. The dense, experimental style would be fine if I felt any tension whatsoever, but it ends up only impeding my ability to involve myself. One of these days, when I find I have enough mental stamina to tackle somethin like Finnegan's Wake, I'll come back to this. Maybe there is a climax waiting that is totally worth the effort. For n ...more
Aldiss depicts the mind-blown world of the forcibly dosed with mind-blown prose full of puns, neologisms, and the loosest of syntax. Yeah, it bumps up against incomprehensibility -- I'm still not sure what the oft-used "antiflowered" is supposed to express -- and it's not exactly Joyce. Although the book isn't a total success, it has its moments. The ending is especially lyrical, coming across something like Earth Abides crossed with The Prelude -- a description I suspect the author would consid ...more
Bryan Hollerbach
This novel, of course, ranks as one of the more noteworthy works of science fiction's New Wave of the '60s and '70s, and it certainly plays with novelistic form, incorporating a number of poems and reveling in a psychedelic "storyscape." Sad to say, it left me cold--less entertaining than (say) Roger Zelazny's similar (if generally dissed) Creatures of Light and Darkness from the same era or even Robert Silverberg's way-puzzling Son of Man.
Mar 25, 2010 Raymond is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
experimental acid prose with poetry..shedding the multiple Gurdjieffian "i"'s and avoiding the kundalini..
i am not a fan of sci-fi per se and this is my first knowing read of anything by Alldis but...this is a groove sensation and some of the prose just oozes out and away onehow
interestingly he was on Desert Island Discs on the BBC and his chosen book was a biography of John Osbourne by John Halpern
I am a great fan of Brian Aldiss, but this novel strikes me as self-indulgent, pretentious and pointless. It's very hard work, with many of the Joycean neologisms impossible to grasp. There are felicities to be found in the LSD meanderings, but it just goes on for too long.
David Rees-thomas
Ambitious and often perplexing. I will admit I had to give it a second read to truly get the most from it. I love that Aldiss is trying to say something that is profound enough to be a challenge for the author as well as us.
Erik Graff
Nov 27, 2010 Erik Graff rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Aldiss fans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: sf
I believe this was borrowed from the Lake Township Library in Stevensville, Michigan while I was home from college for the summer. An rather highbrow experimental novel, I found reading it too much work.
...narra un viaje de una hipotetica europa ... pero no encontre merito para terminar la lectura, al avanzar la lectura no pude hayar un motivo para continuar
Жанна Пояркова
Англия после психоделической войны. Трудно для чтения, но бесценно как эксперимент. галлюцинирующие люди пытаются создавать структуры.
Like reading a trainsmash... It wasn't easy reading but I was engrossing and is still memorable.
Si no estás fumao como el escritor cuando lo escribió... no tienes nada que hacer.
interesting dystopian novel about chemical psychedelic warfare
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Whats the best way to read this? 1 11 Oct 03, 2008 02:22PM  
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Pseudonyms: Jael Cracken, Peter Pica, John Runciman, C.C. Shackleton, Arch Mendicant, & "Doc" Peristyle.

Brian Wilson Aldiss is one of the most important voices in science fiction writing today. He wrote his first novel while working as a bookseller in Oxford. Shortly afterwards he wrote his first work of science fiction and soon gained international recognition. Adored for his innovative liter
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