Book Review | Boris – Agent of Chaos

A recent contribution published in the magazine "Private Eye", featured a minor American science fiction novel from 1967. The hero: Boris Johnson.

The British satirical magazine Private Eye has a magical knack of creating absurdist fiction that is just almost credible. (Their articles are sometimes reprinted in far-off countries with modest English language skills as the real thing.) Fortunately for all, “the Eye” also has a keen band of sharp-eyed readers who send them media curiosities from all over. A recent contribution published in August 2019, featured a minor American science fiction novel from 1967. The hero: a bumbling incompetent attempting to stave off a dystopian galactic disaster, named Boris Johnson. The book’s title – disturbingly prescient – was AGENT OF CHAOS.

The fictitious Boris Johnson

As today in Brexit-wracked Britain, the fictitious ‘Boris Johnson’ is energetically struggling with a self-imposed mission impossible, and in the opinion of his suave omnipotent adversaries (Brussels bureaucrats anyone?) failing miserably. As one of these shadowy figures comments: “Boris Johnson was quite willing to babble on – and did so at every opportunity – but the man is a fool.”  The menacing lead Assassin Robert Ching regards Johnson with something close to supercilious affection, perhaps as one would watch a clumsy kitten trying to climb a tree: “The man is a bumbler, he stumbles in the dark, ignorant even of the Democracy he professes to champion … yet still he fights on … blind courage … heroism … sheer stupidity – and Johnson, paradoxically, is a source of all three.”

Of course, Private Eye cannot resist the obvious parallels to Britain’s current chaos: After various betrayals and battles, they comment, we reach the final page and what reads like a premonition of eternal Brexit: “The struggle was just beginning. In another billion years, it would still be just beginning.”

Don’t forget, you read this first in METROPOLE.

(Foto credit: Arno Mikkor)

Simon Ballam
English, studied in NY and worked in London, Düsseldorf, NY, Fankfurt, Prague and Vienna. This covered stints in market research and the film industry, international advertising coordination and strategic planning. Currently business school lecturer and journalist.


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