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Barefoot in the Head Paperback – January 7, 2001


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 250 pages
  • Publisher: House of Stratus Ltd (January 7, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0755100662
  • ISBN-13: 978-0755100668
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,850,109 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Brian Wilson Aldiss was born in Norfolk, in 1925. He wrote his first novel, The Brightfount Diaries (1955), while working as a bookseller in Oxford. But he is perhaps better known as one of the most noteworthy voices in science fiction writing. His first work of science fiction, Non-Stop, appeared in 1958. Since then, he has written over 40 novels and 300 short stories, as well as poetry and critical works, and received all of the major science fiction awards. He has reviewed for the Times Literary Supplement, The Guardian and the Washington Post, and he has edited Science Fiction Horizons, as well as several anthologies. Brian Aldiss recently celebrated his seventy-fifth birthday and is presently working on several new books.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Pantagruel on March 15, 2000
Format: Paperback
After the Acidhead War, most of Earth's population is stumbling through an endless acid trip caused by nerve gas. Colin Charteris, in headlong flight from Serbia and the refugee camps where he was exposed, finds everyday objects like Metz cathedral ominous and portentous. A vision of the future catapults him into the company of more-advanced acid cases who call him a messiah for his concept of Man the Driver, resulting in his leading a mad exodus by car across a blasted Europe into a life of complete incomprehensibility. As birds build twisted nests, dogs wear neckties and the new animal slinks through the shrubbery, Charteris forges a new vision of reality, but drops out before the crucifixion. Inside every sane citizen is a madman waiting to run free....
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Keith T Gibson on June 14, 2013
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The plot: during World War III, hallucinogenic drugs were released into the water supply, making everyone schizophrenic. Since the viewpoint of the story is described as if viewed from all these drug-addled victims, the "story" is eventually just random words strewn together, replicating what the world looks like to a hallucinating victim. Experimental writing at its worst.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By flying-monkey on March 23, 2006
Format: Paperback
Barefoot in the Head is one of the finest things to emerge from the wreckage of the 1960s.

It is not by any means an easy read, indeed it is far more experimental in forms and style that many more feted non-sf avant-garde works. The prose and poems (some of which individually are really fine pieces of work) and songs and at times simply patterns of letters that compose the work are fragmentary and fractured - the ravings of minds changed beyond recognition by mind-altering psychotropic weapons. Yet somehow it makes sense: the wrong words start to mean something, you start to establish a vocabulary from random or mistaken strings of words and, although how I am not quite sure, you can even get a deep sense of story and character thorugh all the confusion. At times you just have to sit back with a wry smile and know that Aldiss deserves so much more than to be continually ignored by the snobbish mainstream critics: this guy is a British national treasure, and one of the great writers of the late Twentieth Century in English. The degree of sheer literary craft involved in this work is quite remarkable.

This is a book about culture and religion and drugs and technology and war and so much more: as such it stands with Burroughs' Naked Lunch. Dick's A Scanner Darkly and Delaney's Dhalgren as monuments to the ambiguity of the breakdown of both mind and order and dark side of pure freedom. But somehow it is more adventurous and more daring than any of these works.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Wizard's Apprentice on March 28, 2000
Format: Paperback
Wow, my brain hurts after reading this. I feel as if my whole civilization has fallen apart due to everyone tripping all the time. When they try to work the machines, men'll fall about laughing. The walls are melting, and I can't decide whether humanity is rotting alive in waves of indecision or poised on the verge of a breakthrough that will catapult us into a new, multi-valued way of perception. I think I just saw a dog wearing a tie. The knowledge that the plane is going to crash haunts me night and day, and I've developed a peculiar aversion to christmas cactus. You don't understand what I'm saying; you DO understand what I'm saying. Both are true, and neither. It's..it's like the SIXTIES: a tragic waste of brain cells AND a step into a new dimension. Aldiss and more...
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8 of 13 people found the following review helpful By doomsdayer520 HALL OF FAME on March 26, 2003
Format: Paperback
This book deserves to be rediscovered, from lonely out-of-print land, if only for the awesome premise that Aldiss has created. Europe has been devastated by chemical warfare, and the weapon was psychedelic drugs. The unlikely perpetrator is Kuwait of all places, and that's ironic in more ways than one. Now the whole population is on a multiple personality-inducing acid trip. An aid worker named Charteris was one of the few people not affected, and as the only sane person around, all of the headtrippers think this guy is the messiah. But it turns out that the psychoactive effects of the drug are contagious, so Charteris becomes affected himself and starts to believe that he really is the messiah. As Charteris becomes more and more insane as the book progresses, so does the third-person narrator along with Aldiss' writing style, leading toward complete incomprehensibility.
Sadly, such an incredible premise is buried under a completely misguided writing endeavor. Aldiss has used this interesting idea to merely experiment with writing techniques that were derivative for their time. The book is 100% 1969 and is showing its age. The stream-of-insanity writing style that Aldiss inflicts on us here is a thinly disguised copy of the groundbreaking works of William Burroughs, plus a little of Philip K. Dick. This is even more evident when you consider that most of Aldiss' other works are more straightforward sci-fi. So the incredible potential of the premise is squandered beneath waves of faddish psychedelic writing style and an exasperating parade of made-up terminology (though I admit I like the adjective "vonnegutsy.") This type of writing has been done successfully, and can bend your mind to extreme proportions, but get it from the originators.
The actual plot elements, theme, and character development of this story could fit into a much more focused short story of twenty pages. This tale had infinitely more potential when it started. A real disappointment.
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