Doesn't look much, does it? Indeed, it's a pretty grotty 1980 Charter, New York paperback. But since I first found it in a second-hand book shop in the mid-1980s, A Rude Awakening has remained my favourite book, and Aldiss my favourite author. First published in 1978, it is the third in the semi-autobiographical 'Horatio Stubbs' trilogy – after The Hand-Reared Boy (1970) and A Soldier Erect (1971) – and sees Aldiss at the very peak of his powers. The setting is Sumatra in 1946. Stubbs is a squaddie, a veteran of the Burma campaign with only days to go before he returns to Blighty. He determines to marry his Chinese girlfriend and take her with him, but events conspire against him. In a particularly memorable passage, he finds himself powerless to save a Dutch friend from summary execution by Indonesian freedom fighters. The game is up for Stubbs, and for the British out East.