This ruthlessly clinical and ""rationalized"" future might remind you of the world of the Clockwork Orange--except that the brutality is sublimated. Indeed, when Alan makes his last stand--defending the medieval keep against razing by a thinking, mechanical Giant--he doesn't have to fear anything so irrational as physical harm (except, possibly, by accident). Right up to the end Alan is ambivalent about the behavior modifying ""school"" where he's been sent to stamp out the anti-social tendencies that have been fostered by his contact with two old people who are hiding out to avoid the compulsory ""welfare homes."" Even though Watson's landscape is familiar his leisurely, metallic satire can be effective (there are public games which peak with the torture and destruction of a new Rolls Royce) and he even makes the snobbish old Mrs. Arbuthnot, still living in her dreams of lunching with the Queen, into a gallant heroine. So it's all the more depressing when Alan's end--he's channeled into an apprenticeship at an ""experimental mental home"" which serves as a sort of dumping ground for misfits--is taken as some sort of victory. In the face of such insidious co-optation Alan's physical victory over the Giant comes to seem beside the point. Certainly the clipped diction and ingrained pessimism, both in a distinctively British mode, won't be to everyone's taste, but Watson's mordant musings generate chills.