“We’re all cogs in the wealth-making machine.”
In a world set in the not-too-distant and quite believable future, government takes a back seat to business. Big business controls the world, and entire continents are subsumed to business alliances–US Alliance and TA (Team Advantage). With almost tribe-like allegiances, employees take the name of their employer as a surname–therefore, with this definition, Jennifer Government works for the government, and the unemployed?…Well , they’re Unmentionables as far as consumer spending is concerned.
One day, at the water cooler, Hack Nike meets John Nike, Guerrilla Marketing Operative, New Sales, and John Nike, Guerrilla Marketing Vice-President. Hack is offered a job promoting a new brand of tennis shoes, and when pressured, he quickly signs a contract detailing the job. Too late, Hack Nike learns why it’s a good thing to always read contracts before signing them….
To Hack’s horror, he is told that he has just signed an agreement to assassinate 10 people who buy the new shoes. The 2 John Nikes from Guerrilla Marketing plan to use the killings as a part of a media blitz that will ultimately promote the new brand. Unable to contemplate killing anyone, Hack, does what any good citizen would do under the circumstances–he goes to the police. But the police are only interested in subcontracting the deal to the NRA.
In a world where business corporations thwart, ignore, and subvert already weakened government controls, the interests of business and government are diametrically opposed. Thanks to Hack’s contract, government and business interests are set on a collision course where only one element can emerge and rule. Jennifer Government is the tattooed agent with a personal interest in stopping Nike’s Guerrilla Marketing.
Rapidly paced, well-constructed, and written with panache, this futuristic novel is a change of pace for Australian author, Max Barry. Barry’s first novel, Syrup, lampooned the world of marketing with strong wit. Jennifer Government is a much more serious novel–an indictment of the world as it may well become–a world in which it is in the best interests of business who now flagrantly “put a price tag on human life” to unleash anarchy and create the ultimate free-market.
If you haven’t tried Max Barry yet, I urge you to do so. He’s refreshing and very, very funny. Take a look at his blog, or better yet, take a look and then sign up for his e-mail list.