Sykaos Papers

E. P. Thompson, Author Pantheon Books $19.95 (482p) ISBN 978-0-394-56828-7
This first novel from historian Thompson ( The Making of the English Working Class ) is a lengthy attempt at a Swiftian satire taking the form of an alien critique of Earthly customs. While searching for an inhabitable planet, poet Oi Paz of the dying world Oitar crashes in England. Branded a fraud and a lunatic, he becomes an alcoholic, a television celebrity (as ``Sapio the Spaceman'') and, when finally believed, is locked up as a British Official Secret. Amid a farcical military bureaucracy, sympathetic anthropologist Helena Sage gains his trust and records the logical alien's puzzlement over humans, whom he calls Sykotics for their chaotic, egoistic and self-destructive behavior. Thompson's comic assault is coherent and intelligent but its long-winded liberal polemics will likely preach to the converted. (September)
Reviewed on: 08/05/1988
Release date: 08/01/1988
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