authors index

books index



The Droop

click to enlarge

New English Library, London, 1972
(price: 30p; 160 pages)

The blurb on the back:

The price of permissiveness - a mysterious and terrible plague.
The setting of this incredible novel is Britain in the immediate future - a nation gripped by an epidemic that makes sex impossible for 95% of its male population.
Result: females famished for erotic satisfaction, hunting frantically for the few men still able to service them. Sarah Tuck, MP, takes to a male prostitute who can provide what her husband John lacks. Gillian Overton, John's one-time mistress, sets out to seduce John's son Robert, a celibate priest who has escaped the Droop. And young Dominic Tuck, a sensitive boy with unharmed sexual powers, is finally annihilated by the frustrated desires of his famous mother and nubile sister.
'Ian Rosse' hides the identity of a well-known author who explores these stricken love affairs with brilliant insight. He has written the most fascinating sociological novel about impotence since Hemingway's
The Sun Also Rises.

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.