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The Leaky Establishment

David Langford

Average Review Rating Average Rating 8/10 (1 Review)
Book Details

Publisher : Big Engine

Published : 1984

Copyright : David Langford 1984

ISBN-10 : PB 1-903468-00-0
ISBN-13 : PB 978-1-903468-00-5

Publisher's Write-Up

Smuggling plutonium out of a nuclear research centre is easy. The difficult part is smuggling it back in again.

The Leaky Establishment is an atomic farce whose author David Langford once worked in the gentle radioactive glow of Britain's nuclear weapons industry, and who hilariously satirises it from the inside. Black comedy overtakes the unfortunate defence-scientist hero Roy Tappen when a 'harmless' theft of office furniture lands him with his very own doomsday nuclear stockpile at home. Chain reactions of comic escapades follow, with disaster piled on disaster, leading the increasingly desperate Tappen to the borders of science fiction as he seeks a way out of the mess.

"I'd rank this book alongside Michael Frayn's The Tin Men, another neglected classic. I've wanted for years to see it back in print. It is one of those books you end up buying several copies of, because you just have to lend it to friends. It's very funny. It's very real."
- from the introduction by Terry Pratchett

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Reader Reviews

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Review by Nigel (010302) Rating (8/10)

Review by Nigel
Rating 8/10
While searching Amazon for Terry Pratchett books I came across this novel. Originally published in 1984 it has seen a number of publishers, big and little, since. In 2000, however, Terry Pratchett added an introduction, quite legitimately due to his own involvement with the British Nuclear Industry, which now must take it near the top of the Amazon search/hit list.

Roy Tappen works at Robinson Heath, one of Britain's highest security Nuclear Research establishments... the place where they make the bombs. For a bet he smuggles a filing cabinet off site only to find the cleaners have left a small surprise in the bottom drawer… a nuclear missile core. Now this may seem a little hard to believe but Langford puts it across very well, explaining how to the Robinson Heath employees these things are as common as packages to a postman. Thus ensues an every increasing number of attempts to smuggle the device back in before anyone notices and Roy is hung for treason. It all gets out of hand and desperate as battle is waged between Roy and site security.

As an example here is a quote from the front of the book that had me in hysterics. I'm not sure if it's true or not but it is very believable and very funny:

"It is necessary for technical reasons that these warheads be stored upside down; that is to say, with the top at the bottom and the bottom at the top. In order that there may be no doubt as to which is the bottom and which is the top, it will be seen to that the bottom of each warhead is immediately labelled with the word TOP."
British Admiralty, 1960s

It is a wonderful step back in time to the 80's and the red tape insanity of government. Highly recommended
Nigel (1st March 2002)

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