“Make Room! Make Room!” by Harry Harrison

Novel, 1966 Dystopian New York novel set in 1999, in which the unchecked population has led to a starved planet struggling and largely failing to feed itself on scraps and ersatz food produced. There is a vaguely didactic feeling to the book, but also a pace and energy, helped along by noirish elements and nods including a murder, high level corruption and an idealised romance, … Continue reading “Make Room! Make Room!” by Harry Harrison

“The Time of the Angels”, by Iris Murdoch

Novel, 1966 The world of an atheist rector, his daughter and his niece, who have recently moved to London from the countryside, and their household and close acquaintances. A book of darkness, both literal and metaphorical, with little relief or let up, with characters held together in strange power plays and family ties. The hints of hope are always just that; hints against a backdrop … Continue reading “The Time of the Angels”, by Iris Murdoch

“The Plague of the Zombies,” directed by John Gilling

Movie, 1966 A rather odd film, predating Romero’s Night of the Living Dead by a couple of years. This is very much in the Hammer tradition with tropes from other films, particularly Dracula. The zombies, however, have none of the attraction or lush appeal of the Count, even though the film’s set in Hammer time (the nineteenth century). The mystery and motivation for evil comes … Continue reading “The Plague of the Zombies,” directed by John Gilling

"The Feverhead," by Wolfgang Bauer

Novel, 1966 Surreal novel in the form of a written correspondence between two Austrian friends, whose letters about thermometers, poets, parties of tiny school children and two bodied captains cross each other and are variously intercepted by other characters, including the ubiquitous ‘Ulf’. This is a book which starts with zip and humour, but which gets darker as the action ratchets up. The surreal emphasis … Continue reading "The Feverhead," by Wolfgang Bauer

"Flowers for Algernon," by Daniel Keyes

Novel, 1966 Touching, messy and wonderful story of Charlie Gordon, whose experimented upon as a subject for a process which massively improves IQ. The novel, which is in the form of a first personal journal, is a rich, emotional journey reflecting in love, cruelty and the pains of existence, together with the suffering of people taken out of their familiar surroundings. The book cracks along … Continue reading "Flowers for Algernon," by Daniel Keyes

"The Crystal World," by JG Ballard

Novel, 1966 Catastrophe novel, in which the African jungle and everything in it crystallises and takes on an eerie suspension, which feels like death. There are plenty of pleasing and striking passages in this book and potency through the involvement of priests, diamond minds, crocodiles, leper colonies and the like, though the overall narrative power suffers, slightly, through the relentless strangeness. A prescient read for … Continue reading "The Crystal World," by JG Ballard

"Nairn’s London," by Ian Nairn

Non-fiction, 1966 Idiosyncratic architectural guide to the capital, in which the excellently opinionated, self-taught Nairn takes the reader on a tour of the notable landmarks, in his eyes, in 1960s London. Descriptions of styles in suburban pubs rub shoulders with churches and the odd stately home and town centre. Nairn often doesn’t make an awful lot of sense, but there’s a real drive throughout the … Continue reading "Nairn’s London," by Ian Nairn

"Otley," by Martin Waddell

Novel, 1966 Twisting plot concerning small time antiques thief who gets embroiled in espionage and counter espionage. This is a book which spins perhaps an over-sized cast of despots a little too quickly and although well written, doesn’t quite do enough to grab and arrest the attention. A tongue in cheek, anti-establishment flavour root it in the time in which it was written. Not a … Continue reading "Otley," by Martin Waddell