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Bug Jack Barron

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  1,745 ratings  ·  84 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, Overlook SF & F Classics, 346 pages
Published January 4th 2005 by Harry N. Abrams (first published 1968)
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Average rating 3.81  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,745 ratings  ·  84 reviews

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May 11, 2012 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
Nov 13, 2014 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.
Apr 04, 2010 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. T
Aug 15, 2013 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
Katri Alatalo
Jan 29, 2016 rated it it was ok
"Bug Jack Barron" drinking game

Have a drink every time:

- Jack Barron thinks of the "100 million americans" watching his tv-show
- Sara thinks Jack is a real hero
- Women are basically represented as stupid, simple "sweet honeyblondes" who look at Jack with big, worshipping and horny eyes
- You get lost in a sentence of about 50 words, try to read it again but still don't understand one word
- Somebody smokes Acapulco Gold
- Howards goes crazy
Jul 08, 2008 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
Jun 11, 2013 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 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!
Aug 06, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
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 doggedl
Sep 07, 2013 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
May 25, 2015 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 e
Mar 31, 2008 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 giv
Apr 08, 2008 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.
Storyline: 1/5
Characters: 2/5
Writing Style: 2/5
Resonance: 2/5

Note: It is difficult to appreciate Spinrad's creation in the 1969 perspective in which it was published. So many of the science fiction and futuristic elements have come true, thus much of what was creative then appears as mildly insightful social commentary now.
Erik Graff
Sep 16, 2009 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.
Steve Joyce
Sep 30, 2014 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.
Richard Anderson
Oct 02, 2014 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.
Ernest Hogan
Aug 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
". . . once we get a Negro in the White House, even by the back door, nothing'll be the same."
Allan Dyen-Shapiro
Apr 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Let's get the elephant out of the room first. The author is misogynist, even for the standards of the day. The female characters exist largely to have sex with the male characters. In one of the few passages from a female character POV, here's a sample of what passes for internalization, a woman's thoughts: "Any chick that digs power, really feels where it's at, almost always turns out to be some kind of dyke in the end. Power's somehow cock-connected; woman's hung up on power, she's hung up on ...more
Sep 03, 2015 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
Paul Westwood
Mar 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-books
This is a weird, beat style, science fiction novel that took a bit of effort to get into. The opening pages in particular were confusing. There were so many parentheses that it was really hard to follow the basic narrative, especially when numerous names and phrases where thrown into the mix without any explanation. There were also a lot of racial epithets being thrown around which made uncomfortable reading and left me wondering whether this was a bigoted novel long past its sell by date. I'm f ...more
Ian Banks
An entry into the growing field of science fiction writing in a future that is now closer to the date of publication than the date of reading (One thing I was chuffed with, though, was the realisation that young me had when discovering that the time the book was set was roughly when I was reading it). Mr Spinrad gets a lot right in this novel about the power of the media and the search for immortality, but his writing hasn't aged terribly well. I first read this book thirty years ago and the sla ...more
Charles Jr.
Mar 21, 2018 rated it liked it
Read it hearing a rumor that it uncannily predicted the rise of media "shock jocks" especially Howard Stern. Well, not really... still was kind of fun, but mired in inconsistent and rather quaint racial politics of the era. HUGE BIG WANKING SPOILER ALERT: The payoff is that American populist radio call-in host/investigative reporter Jack Barron finds a clinic that can make people immortal and forever young by gland transplants from kidnapped, irradiated black children. This revelation is obvious ...more
Jul 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Norman Spinrad's Bug Jack Barron appeared in 1969, and must be considered in terms of historical perspective as well as comparative contemporary worth. I believe it was intended to be a political statement more than a work of entertainment, valued more for shock value than story-telling. It was nearly a case of the medium being the message, as McLuhan put it; a Future Shock for the Establishment. The New Wave of SF was attacking the Old Guard, and sex and drugs and other such unheard-of inventio ...more
Tom Rowe
Oct 12, 2019 rated it did not like it
Well, this book is certainly dated. From references to the fairness doctrine, to the slang of the 1960s, to the overt racism and sexism, this book is most certainly a product of its time. No characters in the first 35 pages were at all likable. It read like a behind the scenes of Fox News if Fox news had to deal with the fairness doctrine.

Anyway, I couldn't see spending time getting through this outdated and offensive text. Maybe I'll come back to it sometime in the future for the hi
Mar 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
FUCK that was solid. Very much of its time as far as prose-style goes - fragments and run ons that are supposed to simulate the stream of consciousness or whatever it is 60s experimental sf authors were trying to do with that abound - but I didn't even mind. And very much of the present-day, in nearly every OTHER way. Killer.
Chumley Pawkins
Oct 18, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
While I can respect the fact that it was probably groundbreaking at the time, these days it reads like it was written by Ned Flanders' Beatnik parents.

Aaron Berardi
Jun 25, 2017 rated it did not like it
This sucked. Hung on to page 65. Too racist. Too think-I'm-a-cool-beat-poet. Don't waste your time.
Bent Andreassen
Jul 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An excellent novel. Nominated for both the Hugo Award and the Nebula Award (1969).
Craig Strete
Sep 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Norman at the top of his game. This is his greatest books among many great books.
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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. L
“Kiss me, and you'll live forever. You'll be a frog, but you'll live forever.” 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.” 2 likes
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