Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Future Perfect

Vonnegut and Douglas Adams Rewrite Brave New World and Find the Future Perfect by Kirk Mustard (2009). Reviewed from Kindle edition provided by author.

In this amazing science fiction/fantasy treatise, Mustard portrays a hyperactive world where artificial intelligence has progressed to the point that no one dies and technology has everyone and everything moving at a frenetic pace. As the novel opens, our hero, Zenith, is chatting on his WristComp with his cousin Melody, who has just gone "Nophy," meaning she's dead (although this archaic term no longer exists). A computer has stored her personality and now she exists virtually, a process invented by HarMoney, a massive global corporation. As quickly as Zenith mourns his cousin he accepts her new version and moves on to the pressing concern of a looming deadline for three new products for the marketing firm, TOAC, where he works. He and his coworkers Sparkle and Apex hustle out the products, hoping that one will catch on and be popular for a day or two, the usual lifespan for products. Amazingly enough, one of the products, a cute animal called a Smelix (rhymes with helix) crests and then maintains popularity and even boosts the country's GNM (Gross National Morale). This is a development that causes the government to realize that people miss Nature, or at least the idea of Nature. Everyone lives in cities carefully sequestered from the outside to keep out insects, bacteria, and viruses that are a constant threat. Two competing theories, sponsored by two rival companies, rapidly arise to reestablish Nature--TOAC Merchandising's Wild Kingdom and HarMoney's HumaNature. What people watch on DemocraTV will determine the course of the world!

Actually, it's hard to summarize Future Perfect because of its whizbang pacing. Also, Mustard's sharp social satire jabs at so many targets: sustainability, cupidity, overreliance on science and (especially) computers and technology, consumerism, social networking, television, herd mentality, politics and pandering politicians, propaganda, the military machine, and boom/bust cycles, just to list a few. More than a novel, Future Perfect is a gut wrenching experience that causes readers to question the parameters of human existence while satirizing those who tend toward navel gazing. I found myself laughing derisively one moment then shrieking in horror at recognizing myself in this fun house distortion. Truly, Mustard has held up a mirror to the disastrous collision course upon which humanity has embarked and its inevitable end. Like a train wreck, it's hard to watch yet impossible to turn away from. Even as you're aware of what you think will be the inevitable and horrifying outcome, you continue to gape at this pitch perfect rendering of humanity's mad dash to extinction.

I loved reading this novel, and I don't usually like science fiction. There's a lot more going on that what I could mention in this brief review without spoilers. Zenith is a fascinating character, and there are some dueling scientists, too, who are both interesting and hilarious. I could go on and on. Highly recommended for teens and adults. Available from Amazon and at