Corporate Torsos Need Not Apply imagines a future world in which the mid-Atlantic states of America—namely, “Nu” York and “Nu” Jersey—survive in soggy, paradigm-shifted fashion after a calamitous “Flood” some 18 years ago (or was it 19?). No one can remember, which is a clue.
To stay safe after the deluge, inhabitants have had to modify their optic-linked headsets, wear awful plastic clothing, and eat synthetic “SnackAttack” food. Burdened with debt and useless history degrees (books are banned; computers do all the reading for people), Alice loses her mother to medical incompetence.
She desperately takes a job with shady “Market, Research, Incorporated,” run by a guy named Bob. Readers already know that ever since college, Bob has been affiliated with the elite sons of secret societies (he imagines himself a “press secretary”) and that the Flood was a deliberate event, not a caprice of nature. The catastrophe gave a small cabal such control over the government that the group is able to appoint a shoe as a senator. But Bob typifies the second-generation conspirators, who are stupid, illiterate, drug-taking, frat-boy louts. In between sexually misusing his employees, testicle-obsessed Bob is as amazed as anyone to learn that the Flood never afflicted the world beyond mid-Atlantic America. Then he is sent to South Africa to complete the conspirators’ program with a nice-guy subordinate named John and Bob’s personal assistant (with benefits), Alice. Bob and Alice learn the sinister next step in the plan is no mere power grab by secret societies but something cosmically huge.
In this ambitious, satirical tale, Pomerantz thankfully adopts a tongue-in-cheek tone. Bits of Dan Brown bestsellers plus some Christian apocalypse material, a dash of Philip K. Dick, and maybe a dollop of Terry Southern, the Marx Brothers, and the Three Stooges (in their darker moments) float through the author’s snarky narrative. The enjoyable story, according to an afterword, took the author about 24 years (and lots of coffee) to complete. The wacky, world-traveling, unhinged tale should tempt readers seeking the offbeat.
A madcap, singular SF satire of capitalist values and American dysfunction with cult potential.Kirkus Reviews
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