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3.82  ·  Rating details ·  1,338 ratings  ·  98 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 ...more
Paperback, 291 pages
Published 2004 by Gollancz (first published 2003)
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Average rating 3.82  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,338 ratings  ·  98 reviews

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Dec 17, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Apr 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Probably the most sarcastic book I've ever read. Could not stop laughing.
Nov 20, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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,
Angus McKeogh
Mar 06, 2019 rated it it was ok
I actually started this book a while back and never added it to my “Currently Reading” list because frankly I was afraid I wouldn’t finish it. It was a slog. Coming from one of the Red Dwarf authors I was expecting brilliance. Brilliance it is not. I churned along through 3 or 4 minute chapters until I reached the end. There were a few chuckles but the whole concept just got tedious and superfluous. About as close to one-star as it’s possible to get without reaching that level. As I said, there ...more
Thomas Jancis
May 14, 2009 rated it liked it
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
Apr 28, 2009 rated it it was ok
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
Mike Allen
Jul 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, verified
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Adam Whitehead
Jul 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
In the all-to-near future, the European Union is well on its way to becoming a single federalised state. Unfortunately, due to the passing of Article 13199 of the Pan-European Constitution ("No person shall be prejudiced from employment in any capacity, at any level, by reason of age, race, creed or incompitence,"), the continent is grinding to a halt. One detective is assigned to track down a dangerous killer, but finds his investigation complicated by blind nightclub bouncers, octogenarian ...more
Jonathan Jasinski
Mar 04, 2019 rated it it was ok
A promising premise that falls apart halfway through. It had some genuinely hilarious moments in the early stages, but somewhere around the train scene it just seems rushed, lazy, repetitive, and lackluster.

In the near future Europe in unified and it's illegal to discriminate against anyone for anything. Solid idea- it seems a bit like political hyperbole, which made me a bit wary, but it's a friggin fiction, I won't read into it and think it really represents Grant's views on the current
Jun 19, 2015 rated it liked it
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
As crime thrillers go this is not good. For comedy and predicting the future... SPOT ON!
Set in a future wherethe european directives state that "anyone regardless of their ability or disability can have a job. This involves waiters with torrets, a ticket clerk at the airport with attention defecit disorder and on it goes.

Just imagine a very OCD person committing the perfect crime :)

A fun read but a bit repetitve hence the three stars.

Nearly made it five stars having been set in a EU where
Geoff Battle
Jun 15, 2017 rated it liked it
Incompetence is full of great humour, witty one liners and amusing thoughts. Rob Grant has a unique and old school sense of humour, which is undeniably English to the core. Incompetence is a great showcase for Grant, unleashing his style in a futuristic Europe, where stupidity is norm. Incompetence fails in the long term though. Despite the persistent humour, the actual story is rather mundane, through to a rather routine finale. With a better structure this book could have been great, however ...more
Feb 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor, dystopia, detective
I read Incompetence first around 15 years ago and remember loving it to bits. The idea of a detective story in a world where stupidity, irresponsibility, incompetence and lack of common sense are the prevalent attributes of humanity was awesome, and in my youthful, naive belief in the future of mankind I thought the story was just an awesome cynical rant and satire.

Now, I relate to Harry and his struggles in a much different way. It's not alternate reality if we're actually living it.
Antony White
Jun 19, 2019 rated it liked it
A fun adventure of a book. However there are times where parts drag and I felt that I got the point and wanted the narrative to move on. To begin with the protagonist was relatable in an exaggerated way with dry humour. However the last quarter of the book makes for frustrating reading. I enjoyed it but felt like there were parts that should have wrapped up quicker.
Russ Morgan
May 19, 2019 rated it liked it
This is the second book of Rob Grant I read, similar to Colony the book started of fast paced and intriguing. The second half seemed to slow down and stop abruptly. I did still enjoy the overall concept.
Aug 27, 2018 rated it it was ok
A fun book if you want a light read, but for all that set up, there's no satisfying climax.
Martin Hall
Oct 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Really enjoyed the style of writing, not to everyone's taste, it's more about the journeying and the bits in-between that I found most interesting, nice details and unusual subject matter.
Feb 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
One of my favourite books.
Claire Burns
Jul 28, 2018 rated it did not like it
Sarcastic but not my kind of book.
Elwood Fitton
Jan 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
A bit ridiculous at times, but no book has made me laugh so freely. If you are looking for something a bit melodramatic, cynical but deeply amusing then this is it.
Arieh Offman
Nov 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Funny AF

Rob Grant's Incompetence is great. Red Dwarf brought me here, but this book will keep me looking for more of his particular brand of wit.
David Jones
Apr 24, 2013 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 18, 2015 rated it it was ok
Incompetence is the second of Rob Grant’s non-Red Dwarf solo fiction books, and is number 31 in the 2017 Goodreads Reading Challenge. Set in a not very distant dystopian future, in which the European Union has enacted a brand new human rights legislation in favour of the incompetent, which states:

“No person shall be prejudiced from employment in any capacity, at any level, by reason of age, race, creed or incompitence” – complete with spelling mistake.

Rob’s most recent novel is a crime
Jul 26, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Jack Reed
Aug 06, 2016 rated it it was ok
When I first waddled into a small bookstore located in Lanzarote, this little book caught my eye straight away as it seemed like it would be perfect: a detective novel with a twist of black humour that seemed unknown to most people. Immediatley, I payed the 4 euro it cost to buy it; I'm honestly disapointed, and about 1/3 of the way in I dropped reading it.

Don't get me wrong, after the first chapter I was hooked; I was near to tears in laughter and it left plenty of room for it to pick up and
Martha Aldridge
Feb 16, 2017 rated it it was ok
Cute idea but it got old quickly. Writes better with Grant Naylor.
Dec 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
John Kirk
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
Rob Kitchin
May 06, 2012 rated it liked it
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 ...more
Malcolm Cox
Nov 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Like Red Dwarf, this is stuffed full of social commentary where, due to gross incompetence in others, Harry Salt struggles to achieve the most simplest things such as hire a car or board a train. In fact so much time and energy is spent on each mundane activity, that the book reads more like a series of episodes or sketches with a loose overriding arc over the whole thing. This is more of an observation than a criticism because each scene of jam-packed full of very funny moments - the priapismic ...more
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Writes under the name Grant Naylor when collaborating with Doug Naylor
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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.” 4 likes
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