New English Library, London, 1972
The blurb on the back:
The price of permissiveness - a mysterious and terrible plague.
The resurgence of feminism in the late-1960s had some curious and unexpected effects on the world of paperback fiction - try The Day of the Women, for example. Even so, this one's very creative.
The set-up's brilliant. A viral infection has swept the globe, rendering the vast majority of men impotent and causing society to reel in its wake. Ain't that wonderful? And the book starts off pretty well, with serious consideration given to how such a predicament would actually be dealt with: repeal of all abortion legislation, the outlawing of contraceptives, the establishment of state male brothels. Then it degenerates into typical New English Library territory with over-written, over-long sex scenes.
All a bit of a missed opportunity, I'm afraid, but the cover and the title are so damn fine, it'd be greedy to expect a good book as well.
A couple of words on the sleeve notes. 'Ian Rosse' is actually JF Straker (born 1904), who may be a 'well-known author' in some circles, but is hardly a household name round these parts. As for the comparison with Hemingway... I wouldn't know about that sort of thing: I may read trash fiction, but I do have some standards.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: 2/5
HIPNESS QUOTIENT: 5/5