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Book Review

Book Cover

Earth Inc.


Author: Michael Bollen
Picnic Publishing
RRP: £10.00, US $15.75
ISBN: 978 0 9556 1053 0
Available 17 June 2008

In 2052 the corporations finally take over the planet, not that this momentous event affected Jorj that much. Before the take over he worked in a customer care call centre following the shift in political and economic power, which raised many to a state of unparalleled wealth whilst consigning the greater part of humanity to medieval style poverty. Jorj still works in a customer care walk in centre. Obviously Jorj hates his life. All this changes, as these things do, when one of his customer care robots runs amuck and tries to kill the complainants. This single unexpected event propels Jorj into the very centre of intrigue and power that lies behind Earth Inc...

Earth Inc. is the debut novel from Michael Bollen and a comedic tour de force it is. Essentially a satirical science fiction novel the book also has much to say about the politics of wealth, the modern obsession with technology and the grunginess of teenage boys bedrooms wherein they practise their repulsive mating habits.

Bollen’s central character of Jorj is his everyman, disenfranchised, disinherited and very disinterested, he may seem a slacker to many, himself included, but Bollen uses him to take us on one of the most amusing journeys I’ve had for a long time. The book fairly bursts with jokes and puns and playful language in a style not too dissimilar to that of the late Douglas Adams. It won’t necessarily have you laughing out loud on the bus, but I defy you not to smile and chuckle at every page.

Like any good science fiction the book has killer robots, flying cars, mad scientists and television-addicted ants and each of these elements are treated in the same playful manner. There is a small amount of pathos, but thankfully very small as this would just be a depressing and spoil the whole irreverent tone of the novel.

One of the most interesting things about the novel is just how well it is written. Anyone can write a few jokes or play around with language to make it amusing, harder still is to make such a novel have, at its core, a story that you want to follow. Bollen deftly keeps the balance of the book, between the needs of the narrative and the comedic tone right to the very last page, making this a very accomplished piece for a first time writer.

For those who want to know more of what Mr Bollen gets up to, and by way of a free plug for producing such an excellent read, you can catch up with his musical pursuits with Cassetteboy by typing it into a search engine... Really, you people expect me to do everything.


Charles Packer

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