Report on Probability A

Report on Probability A
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Controversial and brilliant, Report on Probability A is a claustrophobic and terrifying novel that examines the politics of surveillance and ownership.The Brian Aldiss collection includes over 50 books and spans the author’s entire career, from his debut in 1955 to his more recent work.Mr and Mrs Mary live a normal life in every way, except one. All day, every day, they are being watched by three men.Once employed by the Marys, the men now spend their time observing the couple’s every move. But Mrs Mary has her gun, and she’s been watching too.


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Report on Probability A

Those who seek for revelation become themselves a revelation

HarperVoyager an imprint of

HarperCollinsPublishers Ltd

1 London Bridge Street

London SE1 9GF

This ebook edition first published in Great Britain by HarperVoyager 2015

First published in Great Britain by Faber and Faber 1968

Copyright © Brian Aldiss 2015

Cover design © HarperCollinsPublishers Ltd 2015

Brian Aldiss asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work.

A catalogue copy of this book is available from the British Library.

This novel is entirely a work of fiction. The names, characters and incidents portrayed in it are the work of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or localities is entirely coincidental.

All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. By payment of the required fees, you have been granted the non-exclusive, non-transferable right to access and read the text of this e-book on screen. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, down-loaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of HarperCollins.

Source ISBN: 9780007482405

Ebook Edition © October 2015 ISBN: 9780007482412

Version: 2015-08-28


One afternoon early in a certain January, the weather showed a lack of character. There was no frost or wind; the trees in the garden did not stir. There was no rain, although anybody accustomed to predicting rain might have forecast it with a fair expectation of being right before nightfall. Cloud lay thickly over the sky. The face of the sun was not visible. Consequently, shadows had no form.

A single window on the north-west side of the house reflected the light back in a dull fashion, without movement, except once when the reflection of a pigeon, wheeling above the garden, splashed across it. No movement came from the house. No sound came from the house.

G lived not in the house but in a wooden bungalow in the garden, overlooked by the window set high in the north-west side of the house. The bungalow, which contained only one room, measured about five by four metres, being longer than it was deep. It was raised above the ground on low pillars of brick. It was constructed of planks arranged vertically on the front and rear and horizontally on the sides. Its roof was also of planks, covered by asphalt; the asphalt was secured in place by large flat-headed nails which dug into the black material. Cracks ran round many of the nails.

The wooden bungalow had two windows. These were fitted in its front wall, one on either side of a door. This was the only door. It did not fit well. The windows contained large single panes of glass. The window-frames and the door had been painted with white paint. Although dirt had greyed this paint, it was still in moderately good condition and not in particular need for repainting. The rest of the wooden bungalow, excluding of course the roof, had been painted yellow. This paint had proved less satisfactory than the white, peeling off in many places to reveal the bare wood underneath.

Between the two windows was an ill-fitting door. A key remained in the lock of this door on the inside, although the lock would not function because the door hinges had sunk and the wood had swollen. G always shut this door with great force at night; he did not like to imagine that Mr Mary might enter the wooden bungalow when he was inside it asleep. Sometimes when G shut the door with great force at night, the key would fall out of the lock onto the mat.

Approximately two years had passed since G began living in the wooden bungalow. During that period, the key had fallen onto the mat inside the door on many occasions.

When Mr Mary had had men build the wooden bungalow in the garden, he said to his wife: ‘It is for you; you can call it your summer house.’ The wooden bungalow had been constructed facing the north-west side of the house. It did not face it squarely, but at an angle of some twenty degrees, in the direction of east-south-east. It stood at a distance of some ten metres from the house. The house dominated the wooden bungalow.

On the early January days when the sun shone, it never rose far enough above the roof of the house to illuminate more than the upper half of the two windows on the front of the bungalow. Even this ration of sunshine was further abbreviated while the shadow of a group of chimneys on the roof of the house made its passage across the front of the bungalow. Since the bungalow faced east-south-east, the sunshine that did reach the windows impinged obliquely into the one room. It shone onto a small section of mat that was stretched over the floorboards and over a portion of the couch on which G slept. G was never on the couch when the sun was.

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