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Report on Probability a

3.08  ·  Rating Details ·  190 Ratings  ·  18 Reviews
An ominous sequence unfolds when it is revealed that strangely intriguing Mrs Mary is being watched from her garden by a trio of strange characters - G, S and C - who are in turn being watched by another observer, who is being watched by a solitary figure on a hill in a third dimension, who is being watched by a group of men in New York, who are being watched by a ...more
Paperback, 152 pages
Published December 2nd 2005 by House of Stratus (first published 1968)
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If on a Winter's Night a Traveler by Italo CalvinoFinnegans Wake by James JoyceA Void by Georges PerecThe Combinations by Louis ArmandPale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov
Anti-novel
67th out of 101 books — 29 voters
Ice by Anna KavanThe Unfortunates by B.S. JohnsonChristie Malry's Own Double-Entry by B.S. JohnsonImpossible Object by Nicholas MosleyThe Atrocity Exhibition by J.G. Ballard
British Experimental Novels 1940-1980
69th out of 89 books — 29 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Manny
description

M opened the review form and paused indecisively. Report On Probability A, by Brian Aldiss. He noted the date he had read it - some time in the mid 70s - and tentatively gave it one star. Two would evidently be excessive. "It's kinda weird," he wrote, then stopped, searching for further ideas. What else could he say about the book? He saved the review. Maybe something would come to him later.

Moments later, M's text appeared on N's screen. She considered it thoughtfully for a second and added a q
...more
Roddy Williams
I remember reading this novel when I was about fifteen. I liked it, although I didn’t understand it one bit. I’d previously enjoyed Aldiss’ short stories and had read ‘Earthworks’. Thinking about it now, why, if Earthworks at the time had seemed a more satisfactory novel, can I remember very little about it, while ‘Report…’ hangs in my mind like a stubborn dream?
These days, it makes a lot more sense to me, but the persistent dream element is still present.
In some ways it is reminiscent of Ballar
...more
Jason Mills
May 03, 2011 Jason Mills rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Readers able to grit their teeth for days on end.
This book's reputation goes before it, and it's a shame it doesn't wave a red flag too. Famous for being intentionally boring, it certainly succeeds in its aims.

An ordinary house is being closely watched over the course of a day by men who live in its surrounding outbuildings. The universe in which this thrill-less adventure occurs is known as Probability A by the people in a parallel universe(?) who are reading the eponymous report (along with us), never wondering about what kind of maniac woul
...more
Tajana
May 18, 2016 Tajana rated it did not like it
imam potrebu da svim knjigama koje sam ikad oznacila jednom zvjezdicom povecam ocjenu samo da ne budu u istom rangu s ovom, sto je zivot, ocaj, mentalni horror vacui, socijalni konstrukt, razocaranje, @pedrocalderondelabarca,
John
Jan 24, 2013 John added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to John by: Steve Milan
This book is extremely strange, being an antinovel deliberately written to examine the concept of nouveau roman. Alain Robbe-Grillet was a proponent of this style, and a well-known Internet encyclopaedia says he "regarded many earlier novelists as old-fashioned in their focus on plot, action, narrative, ideas, and character. Instead, he put forward a theory of the novel as focused on objects: the ideal nouveau roman would be an individual version and vision of things, subordinating plot and char ...more
Stephen Curran
Inspired (according to the author's account) by Werner Heisenberg's theory that the act of observation changes the phenomena being observed, 'Report on Principal A' would make a good basis for a study of the anti-novel.

Three people spy on a house, from which they have been expelled. A separate group of people keep watch over their every move, apparently from the vantage point of another dimension (although this is never confirmed). The report that they write forms the bulk of the novel's text (h
...more
Thomas Hale
This book is 156 pages long, a paperback printed in English with black ink and written by a famous English science fiction author. The prose is laden with infinitesimal detail about the most inconsequential aspects of its characters and main setting. It is written in the manner of an academic report, which it is: the main "story" of the book comprises a lengthy and detailed report on a possible alternate reality. It is a book inspired by the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, in which observation ...more
Jason
Apr 04, 2015 Jason rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Honestly, I don't know what to tell you. Certainly I do not regret reading this. I think I am a more well-read individual for having read it. Unlike others on this review thread, I did not find the reading experience particularly boring. The experiment is interesting, and funny. If you dig it, you'll get through the book, probably with a few smiles along the way. If you skip it, no loss. As I said, it is an experiment more than a novel, and because Aldiss is a brilliant writer, even a throwaway ...more
Norman Howe
You may have had to write a descriptive paragraph in school. You have to describe a scene. The important thing is"," there is no action to further a story in such a paragraph.Brian Aldiss has expanded this concept to an entire novel. Scientists are observing various realities in order to determine which is the Real. But nothing actually happens. A truly maddening read.
Mkfs
Apr 23, 2015 Mkfs rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
A recursive paranoid masterpiece?
An inquiry into the implications of an observer-defined quantum reality?
A derailing of time across the multiverse?

Nope. Just a long, slow, repetitive read -- probably the idea of what a factual report must look like to somebody who has never read one.

You're not missing anything by skipping this one.
John
Feb 17, 2008 John rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Writers
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nick
Nov 03, 2014 Nick rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-twice
I have read this book twice.

The first time was when I was in my teens and I was working my way through all the sci fi I could get from the library. This was one of them. I had read other books by the author and thought I would give this one a try. It bored me and fascinated me in equal measure. I was glad it was short.

I read it later in my 40s because I wanted to read it after reading Borges' "The Library of Babel". I also wanted to read it because I remembered it was about surveillance and I w
...more
Brodysatva
I'm really not sure what to make of this book. It is intentionally action less, I gather as Aldiss' attempt at an anti-novel. There is, I think, something being said about the nature of reality and subjective experience, but Aldiss was cleverer than I am, and his point eludes me. That said, it has something of the postmodern about it, with the metaphoric allusions and literal inclusion of references to WH Hunt's painting "The Hireling Shepherd" and Iain Banks, one of my favourite SF and literary ...more
Dan Clore
Nov 10, 2015 Dan Clore rated it really liked it
This short experimental novel combines science/speculative fiction with the avant-garde of writers like Robbe-Grillet. It is infamously told in a drily descriptive manner at the almost total expense of character and plot (something it jokes about), making it too boring for many readers. For those who can get into it enough to pay attention to detail, however, reading it will be much like putting together the pieces of a fascinating puzzle. But instead of that puzzle adding up to a convention ...more
Mark
Aug 17, 2012 Mark rated it it was amazing
Five stars because it was remarkable. But it absolutely won't be to everyone's taste. It's experimental, it's an anti-novel, it's deeply, deeply, deliberately boring. I remember reading it and entering a sort of fugue state; to me, the reading experience was unique and, if not exactly enjoyable, well worth the time. It's only a wee little thing, so you won't waste more than a couple of hours if you do decide to give it a go.
Becky
Jun 24, 2009 Becky rated it it was amazing
So strange, but so cool...

Recommended to my from my futurama calendar (like so many great sci-fi books), this book is about a person watching someone from their window...and someone watching the person who is watching...and an alien race watching the person watching the person watching the person...weird, crazy, awesome.
Ruth
Mar 22, 2015 Ruth rated it did not like it
Experimental novel in which nothing much happens. A bit like watching a 60s art film when you're not pissed or stoned.
Johnny
Johnny rated it liked it
May 14, 2015
Bobby Sweatt
Bobby Sweatt rated it liked it
Jan 21, 2015
Kiko Llaneras
Kiko Llaneras rated it it was ok
Jun 09, 2013
Tim Newton
Tim Newton rated it it was amazing
Mar 23, 2014
Booksnob
Booksnob rated it liked it
Aug 20, 2013
Max
Max rated it it was amazing
Dec 30, 2013
Eric
Eric rated it liked it
Nov 18, 2011
Kerri-ann
Kerri-ann rated it it was ok
Mar 31, 2013
Paul North
Paul North rated it liked it
Feb 06, 2014
Christian
Christian rated it it was ok
Jul 20, 2007
Simon Speed
Simon Speed rated it liked it
Mar 26, 2012
Dena
Dena rated it it was amazing
Aug 08, 2013
Claus Hetzer
Claus Hetzer rated it really liked it
Jul 01, 2016
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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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