A Rude Awakening

A Rude Awakening
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The final volume of the Horatio Stubbs trilogy, available as an ebook for the first time.The war is over but our hero, Horatio Stubbs, is still in Sumatra and still narrating his sexual adventures.Brian says: “In the third (and last) of the HAND REARED BOY series, equatorial juices flow. Stubbs is now in Sumatra, the official war being over. But the birth pains of the new Indonesian republic interfere with Stubbs’s sexual involvements with, among others, two Chinese ladies.”


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A Rude Awakening

Table of Contents


Title Page



Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

About the Author

The Horatio Stubbs Saga


About the Publisher

My suspicion is that in Heaven the Blessed are of the opinion that the advantages of that locale have been overrated by theologians who were never actually there. Perhaps even in Hell the damned are not always satisfied.

Jorge Luis Borges, THE DUEL

‘The idea of prostitution is a meeting point of so many elements – lechery, bitterness, the futility of human relationships, physical frenzy and the clink of gold – that a glance into its depths makes you dizzy and teaches you so much! It makes you so sad, and fills you with such dreams of love!’

‘But one can live a full life,’ suggested Claudin, ‘without frequenting prostitutes.’

‘No, you can’t,’ thundered Flaubert. ‘A man has missed something if he has never woken up in an anonymous bed beside a face he’ll never see again, and if he has never left a brothel at dawn feeling like jumping off a bridge into the river out of sheer physical disgust with life.’

Robert Baldick, DINNER AT MAGNY’S

‘Remember you were of the Fourteenth Army and never say die.’

General Sir William Slim, disbanding the Forgotten Army

A Rude Awakening is the final volume of the Stubbs trilogy. The title I derived from a remark by Gustave Flaubert, who said:

‘A man has missed something if he has never woken up in an anonymous bed beside a face he’ll never see again, and if he has never left a brothel at dawn feeling like jumping off a bridge into the river out of sheer physical disgust with life.’

The Second World War is over; the problems of post-war remain. Nevertheless, the tone here is not as dark as it was in A Soldier Erect, as befits a novel which encompasses the terrible madness of world war.

The action now moves to Medan, the capital city of the island of Sumatra, where the armed forces were engaged with repatriating to Tokyo the disorganised remainder of the Japanese forces.

The overall situation was somewhat problematic. On the British side, now that the war was won, India had to be given its independence as promised. This put all operations east of India into question. At the time that the novel opens, British-Indian forces were deployed a) to ship the surviving Japanese back to their rightful homes and b) to release all Dutch and Chinese prisoners from camps and reinstate the Dutch in the lands they had formerly possessed. But politics had changed. Soekarno, first President of Indonesia, had declared Indonesia an independent republic – this included not only Java and the string of islands to the east of Java, but also the mighty island of Sumatra, straddling the equator.

The British were scarcely eager to reinstate the Dutch into their former colony whilst being so soon to quit their own vast colony, India. Whilst angry native mobs, assisted by fire-power, hardly strengthened the little eagerness that there was.

So the Anglo-Indian divisions stood by. They had, in fact, no choice but to stand by, because there were no aircraft or ships at that stage to guarantee a peaceful withdrawal.

These are the clouds beneath which Stubbs and his fellows make the best of things. In regular army fashion, they grumble but hold their fire.

Holding their semen is a different matter. Within a couple of chapters we witness Stubbs and his Chinese lady, Margey, being amorous and rather playful. Problems naturally predominate, but there is much humour – for instance when Stubbs, riding in an officer’s car, manages to drop his cigar to the floor of the car and set everything there alight. ‘Funny, sexy, and brutal,’ my American publisher described the novel – quite well I think.

Ultimately, Stubbs has to leave his Chinese love. He also leaves Sumatra. It is a time for mild regret. As perhaps we regret leaving Horatio, whose terrifying initiation into adult society is now complete.

Brian Aldiss,

Oxford 2012

The wild life in Medan was something neither night nor DDT could stop.

Beyond our steamy windows, the darkness held all the breathability of a sailor’s armpit. A winged and nameless shitbag came hurtling in from the murk, full of offence and fury. Its manner was of one intent on shattering – preferably for ever – the world speed record for Tropical Hirsute Insect Nuisance Flying.

It burst across the room at drunken velocity, maintaining an altitude of approximately two inches above the heads of the assembled drinkers. The drinkers were tanking themselves up for the arrival of a lorry-load of unleashed Dutch girls, and failed to notice this freak of evolution. Still accelerating, the shitbag gained height and ploughed its way through a cloud of assorted mosquitoes, flies, moths, and fluttering uglies which had appropriated our central light as a zone for combined aerial combat and propagation of species.

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