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Stark by Ben Elton
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Stark (1989)

by Ben Elton

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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9051214,945 (3.43)8
  1. 00
    Chart Throb by Ben Elton (JessamyJane)
  2. 01
    Beauty Queens by Libba Bray (stevedore)
    stevedore: Similar satirical/political humour and about a distopian neo-capitalist society.
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» See also 8 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
It's been about 20 years since I first read Stark and I still love it to bits. It's funny, memorable and touching, despite the disparate plots (and non-plot-releated wanderings) that form the main story. One of my favourite books. ( )
  redfiona | Apr 23, 2016 |
The weather has always been a source of endless conversation but now the mantra had changed. The song did not remain the same? Whereas previously the comment had always been along the lines of 'bloody awful weather . . .'
Now people constantly moaned that it was 'funny' weather; it was not like it had been when they were young; it was no longer 'proper' weather.. The strange thing was that even teenagers spoke in this manner.


Stark is a satire about billionaire businessmen, eco-warriors and the end of the world. It is set about 10 years after it was written and it's still relevant today, with the world failing to face up to global warming, pollution of the food chain and ships full of toxic waste sailing the oceans but never allowed to land and unload their deadly cargoes. The billionaires knew exactly how much trouble the world was in, and had hoped that somehow market forces might force them to do something about it, but as that never happened they just stood back and let it play out, while the hippies and journalists were unable to prevent the slide into disaster as they just weren't as ruthless and well-organised as their opponents.

'Listen, man,' Walter would say, 'like, one day you're freeing Beagles, the next you're riding the bus all night defending old ladies . . . I mean, cool, don't get me wrong, very cool. I just feel, like, we should, like . . . you know, formalize our avenues of protest, right. . .? Or does that sound a bit too much like heavy fascist mind control, and, like, pretty soon we'll be as bad as the people we're protesting against?'
'Well, it does a bit, man,' Zimmerman would reply.


This is Ben Elton's first novel and I first read it in 1989 or 1990 soon after it came out in paperback. I remember enjoying it a lot although I didn't remember much except what the title referred to and the location of the Stark Conspiracy's construction site and I have read a lot of his other novels since then and also saw Popcorn when the play was put on at Nottingham Playhouse. On re-reading it, I think his later novels are better, but there are moments of drama that come as a big shock between the laughs, and Stark introduced me to one of my favourite novelists, so it is definitely worthy of 4 stars. ( )
  isabelx | Sep 1, 2015 |
I think I laughed more reading this book than I have during live stand-up comedy. And I laugh a lot during stand-up. For some reason the description of the tree in the middle of the Australian desert 'dying' when there was a lack of water and then 'blossoming' when its deep root system finally tapped into the water table - and no one above ground being able to tell the difference - was the most hilarious thing I've ever read. In a way that is so good that you can't possibly explain it to others in a way they'll understand so I'll stop now.

A serious topic with such an underpinning of such gorgeous well-observed perfectly-balanced comedy that you can go in one end a suited conservative and emerge out the other a moccasin-wearing hippy without even noticing your internal progression. Almost made me want to vote green.

Brilliant.

Memorable.

Read it.

(twice) ( )
2 vote kathay | Sep 26, 2014 |
I loved Elton's humour before he started writing novels so was pre-disposed to enjoying this but even now, nearly 20 years since I first read it, I can still enjoy the witty writing and all-too-believable story. He created some great characters and has clearly spent enough time in Australia to be able to write authentic Australian characters. ( )
  bsquaredinoz | Mar 31, 2013 |
If you've read or watched anything by Ben Elton, you're familiar with his style of comedy. Quick-witted, razor-sharp and always committed to the kind of social, political or economical commentary that leaves certain people slightly embarassed. The kind of people who deserve to be slightly embarassed. Anyway, he's refined his comedy over the years to go from scathing to insidiously funny while still hitting all the right notes. Stark was written almost 20 years ago and it shows. It's Ben Elton, and the writing is witty and flows well, but the commentary is heavy-handed and more than once takes a little de-tour from the narrative to drive a few points home about those god-awful capitalist pigs ruining the planet one spraycan at a time. That doesn't mean it's not a good book. It's an excellent book and you should read it to gain that extra step to enlightenment, but you might sigh once in a while and think to yourself: couldn't he have saved that for a major leaflet campaign? ( )
  Crayne | Oct 4, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ben Eltonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Scutt, DavidCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Carlton is a little coastal town some miles south of Perth in Western Australia.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0751501999, Mass Market Paperback)

Stark has more money than God and the social conscience of a dog on a croquet lawn. What's more, they know the Earth is dying, so, deep in Western Australia, a planet-sized plot takes shape. Unfortunately, all that stands in the way of the conspiracy is four inept green freaks.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:05:52 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Stark is a secret consortium with more money than God, and the social conscience of a dog on a croquet lawn. What's more, it knows the Earth is dying. Deep in Western Australia where the Aboriginals used to milk the trees, a planet-sized plot is taking shape. Some green freaks pick up the scent: a pommie poseur; a brain-fried Vietnam vet; Aboriginals who have lost their land...not much against a conspiracy that controls society. But EcoAction isn't in society: it just lives in the same place, along with the cockroaches. If you're facing the richest and most disgusting scheme in history, you have to do more than stick up two fingers and say 'peace'.

» see all 3 descriptions

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