Thomas M. Disch is one of the overlooked masters of science fiction, and Camp Concentration is one of his finest novels. The unlikely hero of this piece is Louis Sacchetti, an overweight poet who's serving a five-year prison term for being a "conchie," or conscientious objector, to the ongoing war being fought by the United States. Three months into his sentence, Sacchetti is mysteriously taken from prison and brought to Camp Archimedes, an underground compound run by General Humphrey Haast. This is the so-called "camp concentration" of the book's title, a strange oubliette where inmates are given a drug that will raise their intelligence to astounding levels, though it will also kill them in a matter of months.
Sacchetti's job is to chronicle the goings-on at Archimedes in a daily journal that is sent to Haast and other select members of the project. Through his writings, readers get to know the various characters that inhabit the camp, geniuses whose intellectual fires burn brightly even while their bodies slowly go cold. Although these latter-day Einsteins are supposed to be thinking up new ways of killing the enemy, most of the inmates are instead focusing their studies on alchemy, which Haast hopes will allow them to discover the secret of immortality.
Camp Concentration is one of those SF books that falls squarely into the "literature" category both for the eloquence of Disch's writing and the timelessness of his ruminations on life and war. This is a thoughtful novel that offers insights into human existence, and it will likely stay with readers long after they have turned the last page. Ursula K. Le Guin summed up the book best in her cover blurb, which says simply: "It is a work of art, and if you read it, you will be changed." --Craig E. Engler
This was an important novel for me when I first read it around 1969. Bought for nostalgia reasons and I enjoyed the experience, probably more than the novel.Published 10 months ago by J P RENOUF
Best science fiction book I ever read.Subtle/brilliant/insightfull intelligence(rip,btw.sad loss/suicide)
Very unusual concept/original,too.on par W/PHILIP K. Read more
A good read, but not original enough, as Flowers for Algernon (Flowers for Algernon) and Dürrenmatt's Physiker (The Physicists) had already been written. Read morePublished on August 16, 2013 by Rick Woodward
this is the best apocalyptic sci-fi I've found in years, really messed up. If you like the doom and destruction, black humor, and paranoia of The Wanting Seed or PKD, then look at... Read morePublished on April 24, 2013 by mighty book hunter
This Faustian work, written in the form of Sacchetti's diary, plumbs the depths of the darkest side of human capability. Read morePublished on January 11, 2013 by nematode
Just thoroughly enjoyed it, it's the perfect genre and a well-told story. The book was as promised. My only complaint is that it was too short!Published on November 22, 2012 by Mspaula48
I bought this book without any expectations, I just liked the cover, but it turned out to be a nicely barbed little American dystopia yarn. Read morePublished on December 9, 2010 by Scott Rawlings
It's almost impossible to understand this book (and I mean that in a myriad of ways) if you don't understand the sixties. Read morePublished on December 2, 2010 by Grey Wolffe
I read this book in 1982. I only remember it because it was hard to get through and disapointing. Maybe I need to get syphilis to understand it ...Published on November 14, 2010 by Manufacturing Whiz