Sladek, John
book-date: 1970
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Panther 1972 paperback (the Hutchinson hardcover was in 1970.) Cover by ???, 224 pages, price is 35 pence / Canadian $1.25. Condition is near-Fine: tight and very square with flat spine, age-tanning is mild to moderate and uniform (consistent with its age), very slight overall wear. No stamps, marks or writing - a clean copy that looks obviously unread.

An early SF novel by John Sladek: The Muller-Fokker Effect. Sladek is a U.S. born author who spent 2 decades in Great Britain from 1966 until his return to Minneapolis in the mid-Eighties. He is usually counted as one of the "New Wave" authors. (He had other early novels, including mysteries and gothics, some in collaboration with Thomas M. Disch - another "New Wave" author.) To complete your picture of Sladek, I recommend tracking down some of his stories or collections (but they can be a little hard to find these days.)

Can a human being be reconstituted like orange juice? To find out, the Army backs a futuristic research project that transfers a man's personality onto computer tapes. Guinea pig for the experiment is technical writer and dreamer Bob Shairp. But the project barely gets off the ground when a mishap wipes out Shairp's mortal body and only his tapes remain. Is Sharp doomed to this encoded state forever? Or can the bizarre process be reversed? Dr. Muller-Fokker is the inventor who developed the tapes, which made it possible to reduce a man to just 4 ten-inch reels, instead of thousands of miles of magnetic tape. The Army didn't completely understand the process, and the Nobel-nominated inventor had vanished, but the Army went ahead anyway.

Some of the people we encounter are: MacCormick Hines who knows reality is nothing more or less than a television serial (he's a window peeper); Wes Davis, who knows the Army is part of a Black Conspiracy; Billy Koch, the great faith-healing evangelist who orders a robot replica of himself to share the burden of crusading; and Glen Dale, editor of Stagman magazine. After Wes Davis breaks into the Army base and precipitates the destruction of Bob Shairp, his tapes are sought by an aspiring computer artist, Billy Koch the evangelist, and the Pentagon. John Sladek has a nicely cynical mind, and he sets up some juicy targets for skewering: racialism, the military mind, sex-publishers, the religion of Big Business, the Big Business of Religion, advertising, zany art forms - it's all here somewhere.

The above summary was based on 2 sets of blurbs and what I could remember from reading this 3 decades ago. Here is a better summary by P. Schuyler Miller - from his review in Analog November 1973:

"The book is an evocation of Murphy's Law: if anything can go wrong, it will. It certainly does. The nominal protagonist, or victim, or what have you is one Bob Shairp, a technical writer, and everything happens to him. He is volunteered by his employer, Arsenamid, as guinea pig in an Army experiment to record a human personality on a special kind of tape, the Muller-Fokker tape. Some law-and-order types break in and shoot up the place, and Shairp's body is killed. His personality, recorded on four tapes, goes on sale as Army surplus. An artist gets one of them and uses it to program his painting computer. An evangelist gets another, and programs an android that takes his place very successfully - for a while. Arsenamid gets the others back. Meanwhile, Shairp's widow is lured into becoming a successful TV personality. His young son is buried in a military school where he is driven to the point of suicide. The evangelist, replaced by his robot double, goes out of his head and winds up as a stooge for one of the cruddiest of Indians. The artist becomes a world sensation until his tape goes wild. It's like Ron Goulart's farces, only with more cutting edge - let's say, Goulart programmed by a Swift tape. Then, when the tapes are at last all gathered together, the Dirty Old Man who owns Arsenamid does the right thing and uses them to put Bob Shairp's reconstituted personality into someone else's body. Unfortunately, Murphy's Law is right in there purring like a cougar..."