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Blind Faith Paperback – June 3, 2008

4.0 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews

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The Underground Railroad
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"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead is a magnificent tour de force chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. See more
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About the Author

Ben Elton has written for such TV shows as Blackadder, Mr. Bean, and The Young Ones. His novels include Dead Famous, The First Casualty,
High Society, Inconceivable, and Popcorn.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.


Trafford said goodbye to his wife, kissed their tiny baby on the forehead and began to unlock the various bolts and deadlocks that secured their front door.

‘And a very good morning to you too, Trafford,’ said the voice of Barbieheart.

‘Yes, of course, good morning, Barbieheart,’ Trafford replied nervously. ‘Good morning indeed, I mean goodbye . . . I mean . . . well, I mean I don’t want to be late, you see.’

‘I’m not holding you up, Trafford.’

‘No. Absolutely.’

‘Well now, you take care to have a great day.’

‘Thank you. Thank you very much. I will.’

Trafford’s wife looked at him angrily. He knew that Chantorria suspected him of deliberately not greeting Barbieheart, as some kind of protest, some bizarre bid for independence. She was right, of course.

‘Sometimes he doesn’t even say good morning to me,’ Chantorria volunteered apologetically, waving at Barbieheart’s face on the wallscreen.

She was only trying to suck up; Trafford knew Chantorria BLIND FAITH hated Barbieheart as much as he did. But trying to keep her sweet was the right thing to do, the safe thing to do. At least one member of the family had a sense of what was proper.

Barbieheart extracted her hand from the huge sack of cheesy snacks on which she was breakfasting and waved back. She was moderator of the tenement chat room and, having grown too large to leave her apartment, she was scarcely ever absent from her post. A constant presence in every household, Barbieheart was an extra member of the family and one whom Trafford deeply resented.

‘Go, go! Run, Trafford!’ Barbieheart said with exaggerated cheeriness. ‘It’s a brand new day, praise the Love.’

Trafford left his apartment and began to descend the many litter-strewn, rat-infested staircases to the street below. The lift worked but Trafford never used it. He claimed he liked to walk down for the exercise but really it was so that he could enjoy a few brief moments away from communitainment screens. He could never admit that, of course: it would look dangerously weird. After all, what was not to like about a news and entertainment video on the wall of a boring lift?

Out on the pavement Trafford headed for the tube station, picking his way carefully through the cellophane, the filthy pink ribbons, the rotting blooms, the little photographs, the scribbled-on scraps of paper and the gilt-edged cards:

Gathered unto the Lord.

One more star in the zodiac.

A new heartbeat in Heaven.

He knew better than to tread on a single kiss-laden message or wilted flower; he had seen men beaten senseless for less. They missed nothing, those keening women who gathered on the pavements in the heat of the morning to mourn their dead and broadcast to the street the age-old songs of grief.

I will always love you.

The heart must go on.

One foot wrong, one petal defiled, and that weeping, hugging huddle would without doubt consider themselves to have been shown disrespect. And disrespect was something for which, even in their grief, these women were constantly vigilant. Even a suspicion of disrespect would turn public sorrow instantly to public rage. The fuse was short, the tinder dry, it took almost nothing to summon forth the mob from the surrounding apartment buildings and spark an orgy of People’s Justice which the police would regret but not condemn. Many who fell victim to the righteous fury of the mob never understood what offence it was that they had unwittingly given, just as many who rushed to join the frenzied mêlée could only guess at what outrage the object of their fury had committed. Something to do with children, no doubt, because nobody dissed the people’s kiddies. Least of all the dead ones.

And there were so many dead ones.

Death was everywhere. In the buzz of insects’ wings, in the splashing of the dirty water and borne on the whisper of the wind. It stalked everybody, old and young alike, but it was the young who were the most vulnerable and they suffered most.

Libra Divine: Heaven has a brand new superstar.

Tyson Armani: Simply the best.

Malibu: A candle in the wind.

So many dead children. Millions and millions of them. No stretch of pavement without its shrine. No personal web page without its catalogue of tiny faces that had looked upon the world for such a short time but lived on now only in Heaven and in cyberspace.

My little sister.

My tiny cousin.

My boy. My girl.

All safe now in the arms of Jesus. And Diana. The Love Spirit and the Lord. Dead but safe. Safe, thank God, from paedophiles.

Sagiquarius: Pure for ever. Defiled, never.

Child mortality was the burning cross that branded the souls of the nation, the pain that the people must bear in repentance for the sins of their faithless forefathers. No child was safe: the plagues which swept through the community affected rich and poor alike. God’s great plan was no respecter of wealth or rank, although without doubt the more crowded the district, the more severe were the epidemics that afflicted it. Bumps and sores, boils and pustules, aching bones, running eyes and infected chests, these were the dangers that an infant must negotiate before it had even learned to walk. The mother who brought six babies into the world could only hope to take three of them to McDonald’s to celebrate their fifth birthdays. For half of them at least, the party sacks would never be filled.

Chantorria had recently given birth to their first child, a time of joy but also a time of grim trepidation. Like all new parents, she and Trafford had spent the weeks since their daughter’s arrival listening out for telltale coughs, watching for rashes and testing constantly for sensitivity to sound and light.

Now, however, it was time for Trafford to return to work and this particular day was a Fizzy Coff. Fizzy Coff was short for ‘physical office’ and meant that it was a day when Trafford’s personally adapted work structure required him to attend his actual workplace, as opposed to the virtual version which existed online and which he could get to without leaving his bed.

Fizzy Coffs were a statutory requirement; the law expected each person to spend at least 25 per cent of their working hours in the company of real, physical colleagues in a real physical space. It was intended at some point to increase this proportion to 50 per cent and the transport system was supposedly being updated to cope with the extra travel hours, but Trafford doubted that it would ever happen. All future planning for the transport system seemed to him to focus on the modest ambition of preventing it from grinding to a complete halt.

Fizzy Coffs were a relatively recent development. Twenty solstices previously, when Trafford had first entered employment, he had not been required to go out to a physical workplace at all. Few people did, except those whose job was serving food and drink or lapdancing. That had been in a time when the virtues of the virtual had gone unchallenged. The public health advantages of keeping people apart had been obvious and it was generally assumed that at some point all work would be done at home. But the growing trend towards social dysfunction had alerted both the Temple and the government to the human need for Face Time. Care workers and spiritual counsellors had concluded that people who dealt exclusively with virtual individuals tended to be at an emotional disadvantage when confronted with the real thing. Unable to relate to fellow members of the community, they were awkward, tongue-tied, and would occasionally shoot at random as many people as they could before turning their guns on themselves.

It had also become clear that it was impossible to meet a series of sexual partners while sitting alone in a tiny flat in front of a computer screen surrounded by pizza boxes. This had of course brought the Temple into the debate. With one in two children dying in infancy, the first and foremost spiritual duty of the people was to produce more children and you cannot produce children without sexual partners. The High Council of the Temple had therefore let it be known that the government must enable the people to interact more regularly, and so Fizzy Coffs became mandatory.

It was therefore principally in order to produce children and to prevent them from developing into deranged killers that Trafford found himself picking his way through the emotionally charged litter of a permanently traumatized society in the burning heat of a stinking Sagittarian morning.

The latest book club pick from Oprah
"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead is a magnificent novel chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. See more

Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Transworld Publishers (October 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0552773905
  • ISBN-13: 978-0552773904
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,011,277 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I'm amazed at the poor reviews on this book. It's like Farenheit 451 - only modernized. I mean, really- that's almost exactly what this book is. I noticed several comparisons while reading. It's set in the future, where privacy is against the law. Literally every moment of your life is televised- kind of like now, how facebook is updated every 3 minutes so you don't miss out on your best friends mothers boyfriends second cousin going to the washroom. Yes, the idea is far fetched- but really, how far off are we? Think about that as you read.

I have never read a Ben Elton novel before, and I was very surprised. I go through about 5 novels a week, which is quite a bit. I couldn't put this book down! I was anxious to get back to it when I needed a break. It was quite different from anything else I've read this year, and i'm going to make sure I read some more of his books. Good find!
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By DLD on December 16, 2009
Format: Paperback
London, One Hundred Years Hence: Trafford Sewell ekes out an existence with wife Chantorria and newborn, Caitlin Happymeal, in a repellant, crowded, postdiluvian London which has been consumed by religious fundamentalism, tabloid culture and a rampantly prurient culture of egocentric self-involvement. Privacy is viewed as an aberration, fiction has been outlawed and the majority of the populace are largely unable to communicate in (or relate to) anything beyond the clichéd wooden spoon platitudes of tabloid newspapers and inane reality television shows. But Trafford nurses a secret and in a world in which the keeping of secrets is viewed as an affront to God-the-love himself, this will set him on a collision course with the corrupt orthodoxies that police this feculent dystopia...

Its been about twenty years since I last read a Ben Elton novel and reading "Blind Faith" was something of a reintroduction to what I used to enjoy about his writing. It must be said, whilst I was never much of a fan of him as a left-wing stand-up comedian and a vanguard of the politically correct alternative comedy establishment during the Thatcherite eighties, "Blind Faith" seemed to me in many ways to be an act of atonement for past sins: age, living through ten years of disastrous new labour government and bearing witness to the encroaching "dumbing-down" of popular culture has clearly removed the scales from his eyes and invested his writing with a righteous indignation and affront at the increasingly bovine nature of modern life.

Whilst the plot of "Blind Faith" is essentially a reinvention and a grand satire of Orwell's
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Ben Elton has outdone himself in Blind Faith. His close observations of the perils and absurdities of modern life have resulted in a startling dystopia that enfolds humanity's current contradictions in its enormous, all-embracing arms. It's a mash-up of New Age fundamentalism and evangelical display; meaningless hugs and the modesty of nakedness. Everything is shared. Everything is "liked." It's a selfie kind of world where nothing's private any more and withholding any information about yourself is bad, wicked bad.

In every tenement there are tenants, and in every tenant's flat there is a screen as well as a webcam. It's a give and take sort of deal, wherein tenants are expected by the Lord to share their love-making, the birth of their children, and all the sundry details of their shabby lives. Sexuality, of course, is included. Everyone, male and female, is expected to be sexed up at all times, and for girls a first breast implant is a veritable rite of passage and is expected to be broadcast, as is her Cherry Pop. This is known as sharing, and is what the Lord wants. Complete and utter sharing, down to the bone.

Our hero, Trafford, lives his silently desperate life in one of these tenements with his wife, Chantorria, and their newborn baby, Caitlin Happymeal. They're all monitored by the brutally jovial Barbieheart, who watches out for any deviations from the laws of the Lord of Love. Trafford works at NatDat, the National Data Collection Bank, which is so overcomplicated and overstuffed with information that it could not possibly find anything or follow up on anything, even if someone wanted it to.

Oh, and did I mention while this is all going on, flood waters from melting icecaps have resulted in major death and disaster around the rest of the world?
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is one of Ben Elton's best. It takes a while for one to realize that the action takes place in a Britain 100 + years hence. The events and lives of the characters may seem ludicrous and some of the technology described is mostly with us now, but I can see the seeds of intolerance, the ignorance, and extreme conservatism have already been planted. I am living in Texas, USA and cannot believe the amount of backward thinking, the lack of compassion, and "blind faith" that is on the increase. It is just as well I shall be dead by 2114!
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Format: Paperback
An dystopian satire that grossly exaggerates some features of 21st century life. I am optimistic it is not, in most respects, a realistic prediction, but it is alternately funny, depressing, and thought-provoking. The problem with satire is that if you don't get it, or take it too seriously, it isn't funny. Many people will not enjoy this book because it grossly exaggerates aspects of things they do believe in or enjoy: religion, the internet, reality TV, fashion, sex, alternative medicine, the self-help movement, .... It is not a "great" book like Nineteen Eighty-Four, Brave New World, or Fahrenheit 451, but if you enjoyed those books and have a sense of humour, you'll probably enjoy this book.
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