This book has not only been a pleasure to read but reminds you of just why those authors that bend reality, Vonnegut is another that springs to mind, can ask some very important questions but couch them in humour and against a background that is slightly surreal.
The result of reading about disaffected lawyers and doctors planning to use terror as a way of over throwing attitudes in society could be grim if it was not done in such a way that all sides of the argument were shown in a sympathetic light leaving the reader to answer their own questions. Ballard manages to do that because Markham is in the middle. Not just in terms of relationships but in his own mind.
At the climax it is his own inability to resort to violence that confronts him and helps him go back to his middle class life. Seeing the horror that can be caused by hatred and fanaticism he pulls back from the brink. Although understanding the idea of a random motiveless attack he could never carry one out and could never really condone that action.
in the current climate with the war on terror still raging this is a book that makes you think. it's not just about class and apathy but also about terror and what it will take to shake us out of our slumbers. But there is a clear warning in the form of Gould that behind the entusiasts and the politically commited are the fanatics ready to kill and maim for personal pleasure more than to prove any particular point.
A review will follow soon...