From the British author of last year's promising Krippendorf's Tribe, a funny but predictable black comedy that sees English universities of the future being run like corporations. The Vice-Chancellor of a large English college in Liverpool is remonstrating with the hapless Professor Douglas Hambro of the Philosophy Department: ""If you're still in the red at the end of Trinity term. . .you'll go the same way as Classics and Math and English."" In the modern university, all subjects have to earn their keep (there are coin-operated turnstiles in lecture rooms), and professors are supposed to act as hacks for foreign countries--one of Hambro's venal colleagues, Counselor Hedda Hagstrom, is doing research on a grant from OPEC to prove that children's IQ's are raised by leaded gas emissions. In fact, the Vice-Chancellor's goal is simply to make students obsolete. Hambro, on the other hand, is a gentle soul who likes nothing better than to be left alone with his George Orwell memorabilia (he's running for president of the Royal Eric Blair Society), but he pitches in to make Philosophy more profitable by opening The Mind Shop down in the red-light district, the only neighborhood he can afford. Unfortunately, his overzealous father-in-law gets in the act, works out a deal with the owners of a local massage parlor, and presto: The Mind and Body Shop, featuring the Bishop Berkeley Bubble Bath and Kierkegaard-a-GoGo. The place is a big hit until ShiRe students (who have already banned alcohol on campus) riot to shut it down. At novel's end, Hambro is walking away from all the campus chaos to spend his life in pursuit of the essential George Orwell. An amusing but extremely long, wacky academic joke, chockablock with music-hall scatology and there'll-always-be-an-England eccentricity.