Name of a post-war British sci-fi/apocalypse novel . . .
June 5, 2019 8:45 PM   Subscribe

The premise of this book is that a plague or a mysterious gas has been released into society. The main effect of this plague/substance is to remove all social inhibitions, which, of course, causes pandemonium, martial law, etc.

If I remember correctly, the book was published in the UK at some point between 1950 and 1970. The setting was England. The book may have been banned for a brief period because some of the scenes (such as nuns stripping off their clothes and shouting FUCK! FUCK! FUCK!) were a little too raw for the mid-20th century UK. This was not a timeless work of literary brilliance; it was a pulpy sci-fi-ish kind of deal. Which fact might explain why Amazon has been so useless in my search.

Askme, do your thing! Many thanks in advance.
posted by the hot hot side of randy to Writing & Language (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Sounds like James Herbert's The Fog.
posted by goatdog at 9:07 PM on June 5, 2019

Barefoot in the Head by Brian Aldiss?
posted by ShooBoo at 9:22 PM on June 5, 2019

Best answer: The Gas by Charles Platt?
posted by misteraitch at 9:36 PM on June 5, 2019

I'm probably wrong, but maybe When the Wind Blows
posted by sacrifix at 10:40 PM on June 5, 2019

I'd also say "The Fog" - swearing nuns thing sounds like classic James Herbert. Here is a review of that book - don't forget page 60!
posted by rongorongo at 12:26 AM on June 6, 2019

Best answer: I agree with misteraitch above — this sounds very much like The Gas. The detail of it being "banned for a brief period" is likely based on the 1980 police raid on the publisher (Savoy Books) in Manchester in which the stock of Platt's novel was seized, along with that of Samuel Delany's The Tides of Lust. At that time the Manchester chief constable was James Anderton, a notorious homophobe and anti-pornography campaigner, and the raid led to the conviction and imprisonment of David Britton, the co-owner of Savoy Books. There's an account of the circumstances in Platt's introduction to the 2017 edition.
posted by cyanistes at 2:07 AM on June 6, 2019

Best answer: It's The Gas - nunnish fuckery on p84, per this Goodreads review.

That cover..!
posted by inire at 2:56 AM on June 6, 2019 [1 favorite]

Best answer: (In the article that cynistes links to, Charles Platt mentions that the location inspiration for the swearing nuns was St Joseph's convent on Portabello Road - owned by the "Little Sisters of the Poor")
posted by rongorongo at 6:33 AM on June 6, 2019

Wow. I'm embarrassed to admit to reading this a long time ago and then occassionally trying to figure out what it was. The Gas is far more extreme than just Nuns screaming profanity. Rape, murder, mutilation, incest and probably beastiality. It's not at all on the same level as The Fog or a risque King book.
posted by jclarkin at 3:08 PM on June 6, 2019

'The Wanting Seed' (1962) by Anthony Burgess is maybe not exactly as described, but has similar themes. Dystopian alternate history Britain going through a rapid social revolution, with mayhem resulting & weird solutions.
posted by ovvl at 6:03 PM on June 6, 2019

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