July 7, 2011

The Future Perfect by Kirk Mustard

My dad introduced me to Douglas Adams as a kid, and I've always loved his stuff because it's funny. I learned about Kurt Vonnegut in college, and appreciated his skill at demonstrating the absurdities of the human condition. Kirk Mustard has taken elements of both of these writers, put them in a blender with Aldous Huxley, and served the result in a tall frosty glass with a little umbrella and a few chunks of fruit.

The Future Perfect (an abbreviated title by the way) is the story of Earth somewhere between now and the society portrayed in Wall-e. Consumerism has... well, consumed the planet, science has taken over everything, even the afterlife, and nature has been all but eradicated by society's paranoia of germs.

Weighty topics are skillfully explored through a fascinating assortment of Adams-esque characters. There's Zenith, a loud colorful ad executive who must constantly churn out new products to a ravenous public, at one point even conceiving of and publishing a book during a short commercial break. His good friend is Monty, a witty self-proclaimed Luddite who longs for simpler times yet panics at the sight of a roasted chicken. Apex Caliente is the unwitting catalyst to the truth behind Nophy, a computer generated afterlife.

One thing I really enjoyed about this book was the detail of technological advances of the future. The synthesized food was disgusting, but probable. The voting system, which uses television ratings to determine what people really want subconsciously, was very creative. My favorite thing, which I really hope to see one day, is the flexy-screen, basically a screen the size and nature of a piece of paper, and used as such.

There are only two negatives to this book. First, there are a lot of grammatical and typographical errors. But overall the writing was good enough and the story interesting enough that it was easy to overlook. Second, the style of writing is a bit uneven. There's a lot of fantastic material between the beginning and the end, but it starts out choppy and ends suddenly. If the errors were fixed and the beginning and end rewritten, this would be a five star book.

I received a copy of this book for the purpose of review.

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