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Bug Jack Barron

3.79  ·  Rating Details ·  1,465 Ratings  ·  67 Reviews
With over a hundred million viewers, Jack Barron is a media star of the highest celebrity—think Jerry Springer crossed with Ted Koppel—and his call-in talk show is the perfect platform for reform. But every man has his price, and when a cryogenics millionaire makes Jack an offer he can't refuse—immortality—anything can happen. Bug Jack Barron, Norman Spinrad’s fourth novel ...more
Paperback, 346 pages
Published January 4th 2005 by The Overlook Press (first published 1968)
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Saul
May 11, 2012 Saul rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science-fiction
Perhaps this book is no longer politically correct, but I found it to be one of the most interesting books I've ever read. The first chapter alone was so dramatic, funny and cynical, I fell over in my chair. Literally! Then I got up and read some more. On a more serious note, the book is one of the great New Wave science fictions of the 60s. It just missed winning the Hugo, losing to THE LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS, but hey, what can you do. It's still a fantastic book, full of socio-political comment ...more
Chip
Nov 28, 2014 Chip rated it it was ok
Shelves: top-200-scifi
If I gave up on books, I would have after the second sentence. This book is horribly written with run on sentences and run on words. The plot is about two megalomaniacs that both think they are right and saving the world. The book is filled with drugs, sex and violence. In the end, it's chapters of babbling insanity.
Andrew
Aug 15, 2013 Andrew rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is an intriguing contradiction, first you have all the talk of its criticism and denouncement. At the time it caused a stir (not on the scale of Lady Chatterley’s Lover – but in the science fiction work it certainly did) gaining the comments such as from Donald A Wollheim' that it is "depraved, cynical, utterly repulsive and thoroughly degenerate", however that was 1969/70. Now it seems hard to see why such a book would gain such a reputation. The tone, the language, even the character ...more
Irene
Aug 23, 2013 Irene rated it it was ok
This was really hard to read with all the racial slurs floating about and the blatant sexism. Also, though the tension built up well it went downhill halfway through when you pretty much knew what would happen. The book just ended up being a leftie's wet dream of single-handedly taking down an invincible mega-corporation.
Steven Peterson
Oct 02, 2010 Steven Peterson rated it really liked it
One of Norman Spinrad's best works. The key figure is Jack Barron, a TV journalist. Much is at stake, such as the possibility, according to antagonist Benedict Howards, of immortality. The book moves ahead with an intriguing finale as Barron amounts to a great deal!
Adam Roan
Jun 22, 2012 Adam Roan rated it it was amazing
I want to be a filmmaker when I grow up...

Adapting this novel to film is one of my goals within 20 years. (there was a screenplay for it in the 70s but it never made it to film.) It's so politically correct, yet each character is derisive, funny, offset from the reality that surrounds them. When the camera is going, and the POV shot is directed towards Jack Barron; reality is pushed aside; he's shunned and subsequently rebirth-ed on tape. Is this the Jack we recall when he fell in love with tha
...more
g026r
Apr 08, 2010 g026r rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2010
The best way to describe my reaction to Bug Jack Barron is that I simultaneously loved and hated it.

The loved is simple: it's a fairly gripping SF tale, even if the plot is occasionally predictable, and there's something about that prose that just feels alive.

The hated is a bit more complex, but can be boiled down to two main problems: the first is that the female characters are incredibly poorly developed, existing for little reason but to hero-worship the protagonist. The other is that the boo
...more
Charles
Jan 26, 2016 Charles rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gave-up
I gave up on page 50. The story moves at a glacial pace (I can barely detect any forward motion in the plots and I am over 20% of the way through), the characters are unappealing, the constant slang is dated and seems more important than what is actually being said.

All of that I can forgive.

But it's the run-on forever sentences life sentences that never end is never in sight seeing on the shore of the lake by the pool by the ocean washing over drowning forever submerged eternally struggling...

So
...more
Foxthyme
Apr 21, 2008 Foxthyme rated it it was amazing
I'm waffling between a 4 and 5 star for this book. It really is an amazing book if you get into the stream of consciousness rhythm of it. Spinrad just nails emotions and charged scenes. Really well done. I finished the book thinking, Wow. What a book!

What I didn't like was that the voice/speech/thought patterns were similar for all the characters. And there was some serious repetition of certain phrases/dialogue, especially near the end. That detracts, big time.

I will give it a five because even
...more
Bill
Jul 08, 2008 Bill rated it really liked it
Shelves: to-reread
Fans of modern-day pundits, either right or left wing, might enjoy checking out this 1969 publication which turns out to have been eerily prophetic considering today's many noisy media battles between self-righteous journalists and billionaire industrial fat cats. Jack Barron is the holier-than-thou journalist, and his favorite target is a rich, ruthless and unscrupulous corporate type. While investigating the purchase of children from very poor families, Barron discovers a bizzare immortality s ...more
Steve
Apr 08, 2008 Steve rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Spinrad fans
Norman Spinrad is such a prophet that most of the forecasts in this book seem mundane today. Sadly, this takes some of the fire out of reading it. Nevertheless, it's interesting for very accurately predicting the evolution of tabloid television and for its depiction of a fictitious brain-washing cult.
Erik Graff
Mar 08, 2012 Erik Graff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Spinrad fans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: sf
This and The Iron Dream may be my favorite Norman Spinrad science fiction novels. Both are quirky, especially Iron Dream as it's ostensibly written by Adolf Hitler, and this one is actually rather humorous while being a sort of mystery suspense novel set in the not-too-distant future.
Richard Anderson
Oct 02, 2014 Richard Anderson rated it did not like it
Oof. This is one terrible book. May take the prize for most excruciating style. Read it because it's on a list of 100 best sf novels. Yup.
Steve Joyce
Dec 13, 2014 Steve Joyce rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
3rd reading. The hip new-wave lingo sure seemed more dated this time around ~ and I blew hot and cold on it ~ but whatever... this is a powerful novel.
Donkic
Nov 27, 2016 Donkic rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jack Barron è un cinico conduttore televisivo che per un'ora alla settimana mette in difficoltà nella sua trasmissione politici e uomini d'affari. Se avete un problema, se avete qualcosa che "vi scoccia" allora telefonate al buon vecchio Jack... cioè "Scocciate Jack Barron", come dice il titolo della sua trasmissione, e lui vi presterà la sua voce e la sua immagine, una voce e un'immagine che viene seguita da cento milioni di spettatori tutte le settimane. Solo che non è proprio così. Jack Barro ...more
Skjam!
Sep 09, 2015 Skjam! rated it liked it
Recommends it for: SF fans interested in the history of the genre
Recommended to Skjam! by: One of the best titles ever
What’s bugging Jack Barron? Jack used to be a young radical, waving signs and helping form the Social Justice Coalition. But the SJC became a legitimate political party, and Jack wasn’t really interested in playing politics. Plus, he’d gotten on television a lot, and the cameras and audiences loved him. Soon, Jack was offered his own call-in show, and it took off. The wife who kept him honest left, but his star was on the rise.

Now he’s the star of Bug Jack Barron, on every Wednesday night. You c
...more
David Agranoff
Norman Spinrad is one of my favorite classic Science Fiction authors. Since his first novel in the mid-sixties Agent of Chaos NS has been a force of political fiction. While Leguin and Octavia Butler have been darlings of radical sci-fi readers Spinrad is just as vocal a voice in genre fiction for anarchist ideals. He has written several political sci-fi classics such as the Iron Dream, and Greenhouse Summer that was way ahead of Al Gore on Global warming. All that being said his most notorious ...more
Jos
Nov 03, 2016 Jos rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
This is not so much science fiction as society fiction. Sure, it takes place 30 or 40 years in the future as seen from 1969. It has advanced technology, freezing people to thaw them when technology has advanced even further. Secretly, it even has immortality developed. There's a dark secret to it though, with an emphasis on 'dark'.

But technology is not what Bug Jack Barron is about. It's about power, politics, media. A world where a few power junkies divide the spoils, where image is everything.
...more
James
Dec 27, 2016 James rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It has been described as cynical but I'd prefer to call it wise. The style was a bit much at times, though admittedly powerful. A clever book with a fantastic story.
Bill
Nov 22, 2016 Bill rated it liked it
It evoked a bit too much of the beat generation.
Alfredo Ceraso
Jan 10, 2017 Alfredo Ceraso rated it it was amazing
Letta l'edizione in italiano, Jack Barron e l'eternità. Imperdibile
Bob Rust
Oct 19, 2016 Bob Rust rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Relevant theme of big business corrupting democratic process an exploration executed with vicious pragmatism by Spinrad.
Fungus Gnat
Jun 14, 2014 Fungus Gnat rated it really liked it
Jack is an outsize television personality with a highly popular call-in show, where anyone can “bug” him about what’s bugging the caller, and Jack tries to get the bugged soul some satisfaction, often by on-air shaming of his nemesis. The TV show Bug Jack Barron serves as the motivation, even the medium, for three simultaneous plot lines—a love story in which the snide, cynical Jack re-engages with his idealistic former girlfriend, a political story in which Jack’s friends try to get him to run ...more
Costa
Aug 06, 2012 Costa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bug Jack Barron is a trip to an alternate, drug-soaked 1994, courtesy of a cynical 1969.

Merely calling Barron a media celebrity is inadequate: the host of the influential 'Bug Jack Barron' show (where 'bug' is read as a verb), Barron has gained enough respect and power to topple minor power-brokers and VIPs with his cynical wit and sharp tongue. Considered by the masses as their everyday hero and spokesperson, Barron encourages viewers with gripes to 'bug' him, after which he doggedly 'bugs' the
...more
Tim
May 22, 2014 Tim rated it it was ok
'One of the most uncompromisingly adult science-fiction novels ever written', saith the back cover of this 1972 edition of Norman Spinrad's Bug Jack Barron.

While it is steeped in the sixties counterculture, Bug Jack Barron isn't the SF goes Austin Powers fluff you might assume from the artwork. It's a vehicle for Spinrad's considerable satirical talents, a Dylan-quoting caustic assault on the complacent heart of baby boomer America.

The problem for the modern reader is that the novel's intended
...more
Jesús
Nov 01, 2013 Jesús rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A quién se le ocurre: leer una novela publicada a finales de los años 60 y sentarse aquí cómodamente después, en 2013, a escribir sobre ella, como si hubiera esperado casi medio siglo para ver qué tal ha soportado el paso del tiempo. Desde aquí, desde mi silla en el futuro, me da la sensación de que lo ha soportado regular. ‘Incordie a Jack Barron’ tiene muy buenas ideas: habla sobre el racismo, la legalización de las drogas, la corrupción política y los intereses de los lobbies, habla de la imp ...more
Michael Scott
May 09, 2015 Michael Scott rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi, my-favs, dystopia
I finally got to re-read Bug Jack Barron, Norman Spinrad's late-1960s masterpiece about the power and the corruption enabled by television. Wonderful to read again!

What I liked:
1. The complex setting: medical sci-fi with immortality as the goal, racial tensions in the US, drugs and pulp life, and the super-company and the power of its president.

2. Jack Barron is a dramatic character.

3. The power wielded by the Bug Jack Barron TV show (watched by 100 million Americans), and the analysis of the p
...more
Javier Cantero
Una obra que ha envejecido bastante mal. Puede que en 1969 fuera escandalosa, pero a día de hoy habría que ser un Ned Flanders para que te escandalizaran unos cuantos tacos, unas pocas escenas de sexo gratuito y una visión cínica de la política, los medios y de la vida en general. Los políticos que ahí aparecen son amorales, sí, pero medianamente inteligentes; por lo visto Spinrad no fue capaz de anticipar al ganado que nos gobierna en la actualidad. En cuanto a las estrellas mediáticas, es casi ...more
Simon Mcleish
Oct 08, 2012 Simon Mcleish rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Originally published on my blog here in January 2002.

This edition of Spinrad's classic novel proudly plasters Donald A. Wollheim's denunciation of it across the front cover - "depraved, cynical, utterly repulsive and thoroughly degenerate". It caused quite a fuss when originally published at the end of the sixties - its initial serial appearance in New Worlds almost led to the end of the magazine when the big chains of British newsagents refused to stock it, and questions were raised in Parliame
...more
Nicolas
Ce roman nous raconte avec un style magnifique les aventures de … Jack Barron, présentateur télé vedette d’un show de "télé vengeance". Dans cette émission, il va être confronté à l’homme qui peut donner à chacun la vie éternelle.
C’est un roman magnifique, une oeuvre comme on en lit peu, où une plume efficace sert une histoire formidable de noirceur. L’écriture de ce roman, ainsi que certaines figures de style comme le singe sur le dos, m’ont fortement fait penser au festin nu de Burroughs. Et
...more
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Born in New York in 1940, Norman Spinrad is an acclaimed SF writer.

Norman Spinrad, born in New York City, is a graduate of the Bronx High School of Science. In 1957 he entered City College of New York and graduated in 1961 with a Bachelor of Science degree as a pre-law major. In 1966 he moved to San Francisco, then to Los Angeles, and now lives in Paris. He married fellow novelist N. Lee Wood in 1
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“It ain't power that corrupts, it's the changes you put your head through getting it.” 2 likes
“Stay a dreamer, and you'll never have your dream; get down in the nitty-gritty, and when you get your dream you see what horseshit it was in the first place.” 1 likes
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