In the near future, the debt-laden U.S. owns a technology that renders it "the world's best-defended Third World country." The only real outer-space planning is in Common Europe, so young American "space cadet" Jerry Reed goes to work in Paris. He falls in love with and marries Soviet career bureaucrat Sonya Gagarin and the story jumps ahead 20 years, blending world events with a focus on their family. Sonya's star has risen with the Euro-Russians' while Jerry has been stymied by pervasive anti-Americanism. Daughter Franja has her father's space fever and enrolls in a Russian space school; son Bob, fiercely curious about an earlier, admired America before it was run by xenophobic "Gringos," enters Berkeley. Ten years later the U.S. is a pariah, Euro-Russia the pet of the civilized world and the Reeds scattered - politics forced Jerry and Sonya's divorce, Franja speaks only to her mother and Bob is trapped in "Festung Amerika." A series of odd, occasionally tragic events brings the family (and the world) together. Despite some tech-talk this is not science fiction: the first two-thirds of this hefty book is chillingly logical, if sometimes very funny, and while the "happy" ending may seem forced, Spinrad ( Bug Jack Barron ) gives us a wild, exhilarating ride into the next century.
Norman Spinrad (1940 - )Norman Richard Spinrad was born in New York City in 1940. He began publishing science fiction in 1963 and has been an important, if sometimes controversial, figure in the genre ever since. He was a regular contributor to New Worlds magazine and, ironically, the cause of its banning by W H Smith, which objected to the violence and profanity in his serialised novel Bug Jack Barron. Spinrad's work has never shied away from the confrontational, be it casting Hitler as a spiteful pulp novelist or satirising the Church of Scientology. In addition to his SF novels, he has written non-fiction, edited anthologies and contributed a screenplay to the second season of Star Trek. In 2003, Norman Spinrad was awarded the Prix Utopia, a life achievement award given by the Utopiales International Festival in Frances, where he now lives.