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The Cool War

3.26  ·  Rating details ·  289 ratings  ·  23 reviews
Fred Pohl, multiple winner of science-fiction's top awards, presents a breathtaking romp through the energy-poor world of the 2020s - a gripping chase-intrigue novel with a highly unlikely stand-in for James Bond.
One day, the Reverend Hornswell Hake had nothing worse to contend with than the customary power shortages and his routine pastoral chores, such as counseling the
Mass Market Paperback, 288 pages
Published March 1982 by Random House Inc. (first published 1981)
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Average rating 3.26  · 
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 ·  289 ratings  ·  23 reviews

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Will Dean
May 23, 2012 rated it it was ok
Continuing my lifelong interest in pulp sci fi, I found this beat-up paperback at a place where I volunteer and knew by it's garish 70s cover and not-so-clever title that I was in luck (I found another that I will review later).

I've read a few of Pohl's books, he was a very prolific writer and my hometown's library had many of them, and most of them are better quality than a lot of pulp sci fi and a few are quite good, even great. This one, though, has an almost incoherent plot, unbelievable cha
Morgan McGuire
Mar 07, 2008 rated it it was ok
It was well written and an interesting setup, but I kept waiting for something neat to happen...and then the book ended.
Chris Peters
Sep 30, 2020 rated it it was ok
I am really not sure why I didn’t enjoy this more than I did....

The premise is great: instead of open armed conflict between countries, everyone is doing everything they can to ruin things for the other guy.

And this is brilliant—and remarkably current. I mean, look at the mess that the US is in right now. Now imagine that the CA wildfires were started by German operatives in order to tax our resources and strain our economy. Or what if the Astros’ cheating scandal was arranged by Japan to make
Peter Dunn
Jun 15, 2020 rated it it was ok
I love Pohl’s more hard science fiction Heechee stories and I loved the cover of this edition of this book, so I was reasonably confident that I would enjoy this. However, I on turning the last page I feel that this work is not exactly the literary summit of Pohl’s career.

It has an interesting idea on how the nature of war might evolve but it is mixed with; some basic science fiction ideas on energy generation, and some of the genre’s most egregious examples of one dimensional characters. He th
Jun 15, 2020 rated it liked it
Alkoi hyvin ja huumori oli mahtavaa, mutta puolivälissä huumori tuntui katoavan ja kirja muuttui keskiverroksi agenttiromaaniksi. Plääh. Loppu myös vähän sellainen "no kaikki nyt selvisi jotenkin". Koko kirjan paras puoli oli se, miten "esitä että tiedät mitä olet tekemässä" asenne kirjan agenttijärjestölllä oli, mutta sekin loppua kohden häivytettiin pois. Alkoi nelosena, loppui kakkosena, puoliväli oli tasapaksua kolmosta. ...more
Huvittava menneen ajan jakojäännös. Tässä ei oikeastaan tapahtunut mitään muuta kuin että hölmistynyt päähenkilö yritti pystellä kartalla mutta ei ihan onnistunut. Häntä vietiin puolelta toiselle eikä missään ollut mitään järkeä. Oliko tämä sitten pulp vai camp vai ihan muuta sitä en osaa sanoa. Kirja on oman aikansa lapsi joka ei ole kestänyt ajankulumista. No, nyt kirjan voi siirtää taas takaisin kirjaston löytöhyllyyn.
Brown Robin
Aug 06, 2020 rated it liked it
A forgotten gem of futurism, this thriller explores some pertinent themes such as energy, environment and economic coercion. It is dated, especially the computer technology, but world events have only confirmed Pohl's analysis of our collective malaise.

If you have any interest in realpolitik or global economic development, you should seek this one out.
I got a pristine hardback copy of this in the 1990s for 3 dollars because it was in some cut-out bin at a used book shop that I liked. I recall enjoying it a lot. It's an amusing take on cold war, with some fun ideas. But, alas, I read it so long ago that I can't vouch for it much in terms of style or what have you, except that I do remember the episodes made me chuckle.
M.A. Stern
Dec 15, 2020 rated it it was ok
I wanted to like this book but unfortunately it felt as though it was a slog to read. The characters are flat, the dialogue is lackluster, the plot is choppy. Parts of it are fun enough to avoid the 1 star rating but I can’t recommend this book.
May 12, 2018 rated it it was ok
I haven't read any of the author's other works. But, this one was a muddled and meandering story-- sort of a mash-up, or a futuristic spy farce. I would say that as I read I had to check the copyright date a few times, because some of his material was as current as today's news. ...more
Mark Schomburg
Aug 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
This novel inhabits that strange satirical world populated by other works such as perhaps On Her Majesty's Occult Service or Modesty Blaise serials and even The Loo Sanction or maybe even Catch-22. Pohl does not pull his punches, and so absurdity has a backbone to it. ...more
Herman Gigglethorpe
Jun 09, 2013 rated it liked it
This is good for a light read, though it is quite dated.

For a book written in the 1980s (set in the 2020s), it seems to mispredict a lot about communications and politics. One plot point depends on how the main character will reveal his findings to the world before the government silences him. In the age of Wikileaks and YouTube, it should be a trivial effort at best. Computers are rare and a library search engine is treated as a new technological marvel. Everyone still uses typewriters and tape
Scott Holstad
Jun 30, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
I like Frederik Pohl, but by his standards, this book was pretty lightweight. It's set in the not-too-distant future where there is a "cool war" between East and West. In it, the spies merely try to irritate each other in order to sow chaos. Amusing, but just barely.

Hornswell Hake, a Unitarian minister referred to as "Horny" throughout the book, is recruited by the Team, the post-CIA spy agency, to unwittingly create chaotic events throughout the world in travels they send him on. Sadly, he's a
John Loyd
Apr 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
I got introduced to Pohl by reading Gateway (1977) (winner of the Hugo Award and Nebula Award). I went on to read Beyond the Blue Event Horizon (1980), Heechee Rendezvous (1984), and Annals of the Heechee (1987). It is a great series, right up there with Foundation, Dune, and Dickson's Childe Cycle.

The Cool War, is written as well as these other books, but the premise is a little shaky. The premise being that there are factions that are trying to advance their country not by making progress wit
Sep 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
An interesting scifi spy novel that blends 2 very interesting themes...
the idea of a cool war as apposed to an active or hot war as well as a passive or cold war the cool war is one of harassment and annoyance of the citizenry of a rival nation making their lives uncomfortable and annoying them etc.. sound familiar?
hypnosis and cognitive state what is normal behavior?

Rich Meyer
Jul 16, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2016
Not Pohl's best, but it was an interesting look at war without all the bloodshed; I wouldn't doubt many of the things happening today are the result of this sort of behind-the-scenes activity.

The book does place high on the deceptive cover list, though, as there's not a darn thing in this book that resembles what happening on the cover.
Karen Gay Mallory
Jul 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
Visit to a time where sabotage has replaced the old fashioned kind of war. Written in the 1970's, set in 2020, we are rapidly catching up. For better or worse, Pohl's vision of 2020 appears to me to be more on target than Orwell's 1984. ...more
Sep 01, 2012 rated it it was ok
Among Pohl's worst. I did like the concept of a war in which nations try to irritate each other the most. ...more
Dec 16, 2012 rated it liked it
Not the best Pohl story: an interesting idea, but the story arc is a little rough and the ending was more abrupt and less conclusive than I preferred.
Aug 15, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: x2009-10-season
A sci-fi relic, dystopian and morally shocking in its day but overtaken by events and now merely curious.
Michael Pryor
Oct 04, 2015 rated it liked it
Wry, entertaining, picaresque.
Casey Lynn
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Apr 21, 2012
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Jul 09, 2010
Jerry Hanna
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Aug 02, 2016
Tannie Olsen
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Jun 10, 2008
Christian J
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Apr 20, 2015
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Feb 27, 2013
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Feb 15, 2011
Barry Leon
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Jul 14, 2016
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Frederik George Pohl, Jr. was an American science fiction writer, editor and fan, with a career spanning over seventy years. From about 1959 until 1969, Pohl edited Galaxy magazine and its sister magazine IF winning the Hugo for IF three years in a row. His writing also won him three Hugos and multiple Nebula Awards. He became a Nebula Grand Master in 1993.

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