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The Armageddon Rag by George R. R. Martin
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The Armageddon Rag (1983)

by George R. R. Martin

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Kind of fun, and an early prelude to just how skilful GRRM's writing can be. The greatest appeal is probably for the demographic slightly older than me - I was aware of the concepts growing up, but vinyl had already been replaced by CDs when I became interested in music. But even in primary school there were rumours that if you bought the right record and played in backwards at slow speed - something that's not so easy with CDs and mp3s - you'd hear the number of the beast or whatever. GRRM takes the concept a little bit further mixing in the peace movement and the 70s protest scene.

Instead of a techno-thriller we've got a fantasy/horror-thriller, there's nothing explicitly unreal happening, but plenty of suggestion that it could be. But that was then, this is now, and the The Band of the decade are possibly reforming - minus their lead singer who's death disrupted the entire movement. Santy is an author once part of that scene, but his latest book isn't working. While he struggles with his mid-life crisis, a friend offers him a chance to re-visit old friends and cover the re-launch. But nothing is quite what it seems as old friends have changed, and even those who seem to have stayed true to their principles, the principles themselves no longer seem so relevant. Disillusioned Sandy throws himself deeper into the band's tour - until he realises history is repeating itself again.

The writing is solely focused on Sandy (cf GoT) which works very well - especially for conveying the sense of always being slightly out of touch and never quite sure what is going on. The characters are all real and believable - obvious stand-ins for concepts perhaps, but with their own quirks and personalities. The anger at The Man means the story remains relevant today even thought the setting hasn't aged well. For those who remember underground newspapers (on actual paper) and only hearing about the latest bands through word of mouth, this will be a fascinating story. For everybody younger than that, it is still a worthy read of the influences in how GRRM's more famous work came to be. ( )
  reading_fox | Jun 23, 2017 |
I really enjoyed this, definitely out of his normal genre. More paranormal then anything else.
  Vinbert | Nov 22, 2015 |
I really enjoyed this, definitely out of his normal genre. More paranormal then anything else.
  Vinbert | Nov 22, 2015 |
It's the early eighties -- both the setting of the book and its publication date -- and ex-hippie writer Sandy Blair is hired to pen an article on the bizarre death of a band manager who was a big shot in the sixties, mainly due to his involvement with a legendary band called the Nazgûl. As Blair investigates, he discovers that there's some weird occult stuff behind the murder, and that the past is not nearly as dead as he thought.

It's an odd, interesting book, one that starts out looking like it's going to be a murder mystery, and ends up as a sort of dark fantasy. It's pretty gripping on both counts; I found myself turning pages compulsively at the beginning, and then again at the end. It's also about the power of rock 'n' roll, and on that level, it's downright amazing. Describing music in words is an incredibly difficult task, but Martin does it so well that I feel like I'm right there listening to it. Then I feel bad when I realize I'm not, and can't. Because, man, I want to hear this band; they're described so vividly that it's actually a little difficult to remember that they're fictional.

Beyond all of that, though, it's also a book about the idealism of the sixties, and the question of where all that idealism went. Which worked a little less well for me, probably because I was born in 1971. In theory, I find the question of how the flower children of the sixties became the "me generation" of the eighties both sociologically and psychologically fascinating. In practice, there is apparently a limit to how much tolerance I have for Boomer navel-gazing, even when it's well-written, thematically interesting Boomer navel-gazing, and I do feel like the book bogs down in places as the protagonist stops to revisit everyone he knew from the sixties to see what they're doing now. I imagine, though, that someone who was actually there (whether they remember it or not) might feel very differently. ( )
1 vote bragan | Nov 14, 2015 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
George R. R. Martinprimary authorall editionscalculated
Charles, MiltonCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Oaks, TerryCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Robert, PeterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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It was not one of Sandy Blair's all-time great days.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0553383078, Paperback)

“The best novel concerning the American pop music culture of the sixties I’ve ever read.”—Stephen King
 
From #1 New York Times bestselling author George R. R. Martin comes the ultimate novel of revolution, rock ’n’ roll, and apocalyptic murder—a stunning work of fiction that portrays not just the end of an era, but the end of the world as we know it.
 
Onetime underground journalist Sandy Blair has come a long way from his radical roots in the ’60s—until something unexpectedly draws him back: the bizarre and brutal murder of a rock promoter who made millions with a band called the Nazgûl. Now, as Sandy sets out to investigate the crime, he finds himself drawn back into his own past—a magical mystery tour of the pent-up passions of his generation. For a new messiah has resurrected the Nazgûl and the mad new rhythm may be more than anyone bargained for—a requiem of demonism, mind control, and death, whose apocalyptic tune only Sandy may be able to change in time . . . before everyone follows the beat.
 
“The wilder aspects of the ’60s . . . roar back to life in this hallucinatory story by a master of chilling suspense.”—Publishers Weekly
 
“What a story, full of nostalgia and endless excitement. . . . It’s taut, tense, and moves like lightning.”—Tony Hillerman
 
“Daring . . . a knowing, wistful appraisal of . . . a crucial American generation.”—Chicago Sun-Times
 
“Moving . . . comic . . . eerie . . . really and truly a walk down memory lane.”—The Washington Post

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:44 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

One-time underground journalist Sandy Blair has come a long way from his radical roots in the '60s--until something unexpectedly draws him back: the bizarre and brutal murder of a rock promoter who made millions with the '60s band the Nazgûl. Now, as Sandy sets out to investigate the crime, he finds himself drawn back into his own past--a magical mystery tour of the pent-up passions of his generation. For a new messiah has resurrected the Nazgûl and the mad new beat may be more than anyone bargained for--a requiem of demonism, mind control, and death, whose apocalyptic tune only Sandy may be able to change in time.--From publisher description.… (more)

» see all 4 descriptions

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