My life in outer space

Barefoot in The Head – Brian W Aldiss (1969)

Barefoot in the Head (Corgi SF Collector's Library)

‘BAREFOOT IN THE HEAD

is set in a strange and elemental era. The world had died – or what was good in it had died – and all that was left was confusion and disorder.
Colin Charteris had been an ordinary young man – once. But in a drug-distorted society he became a saviour – a hero who was to lead a doomed crusade into bomb-scarred Europe – a Europe that was to prove everything and nothing to the man who went Barefoot in the Head…’

Blurb from the 1974 Corgi SF Collector’s Edition

This is not an easy read since following the first chapter which introduces the central character, Colin Charteris, the novel devolves into a variation of English which those affected by the Acid Head wars are now using.
Charteris is a Serbian travelling through Europe in the aftermath of the Acid Head wars and we meet up with him in Paris. He calls himself Charteris because he is a fan of the British author and has a romantic view of British life.
Eventually he arrives in London and meets Burton, the manager of a band, and later his friend Phil who is a prophet of sorts. Charteris, however, with contradictory Ouspenskian and Gurdjieffian views, gains a following of his own and becomes something of a Messiah.
The novel, assembled from various sequential stories in New Worlds and elsewhere, is also dotted with poems and song lyrics from the characters.

See also ‘A Clockwork Orange’ and ‘Riddley Walker’.

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