4 out of 4 stars
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World, Incorporated: A Modern Dystopia by Tom Gariffo is a journey into a dystopian society in the year 2058.
Agent Sliver is a covert operative, who has been working for Fellrock of World, Incorporated, during the last four years. The world is under the control of five supercorporations. Whichever one has control over a zone or city has a monopoly on security, utilities, and media for that area. They are ruthless in their need for control, continually monitoring their rivals and attempting to steal their customers. When one of them seizes control of a territory, a battle ensues between the security forces of the other supercorporations.
Sliver travels in an airship known as the Chrome Wind, controlled by a sophisticated computer, named Franklin. As a new mission is defined Sliver works out a plan, and Franklin calculates the outcome. Essential data exists in the digital device on Sliver's wrist. Sliver sees the mission as just another job, a means to an end. He feels nothing other than a desire to kill Ancorn.
We first encounter Agent Sliver in the heartland of America. After his targets die in an explosion, he returns to the ship with a female survivor. This action becomes the catalyst for changing the course of his life. As events unfold, he begins to question things from his past.
On board the ship, Kelly reads a series of news articles from 2023 to the present day. One can appreciate her comatose state after reading these, not only because of their length but also the catastrophic events they describe. World governments became unstable, society crumbled, resulting in supercorporations taking control. Humans became their consumers and employees. There are no nations or countries. A registry is used to store personal data on everyone who comes into the system. Crime is low or non-existent. A solar screen artificially keeps temperatures down. People have access to education, medical care, healthy food, and life expectancy is rising, but things may not be all as they seem.
Apart from a little foul language, the story is enjoyable, with plenty of action to keep the reader engaged. I like the interaction between Sliver and Kelly as it provides a deeper insight into the complexity of Sliver’s makeup. It is easy to condemn him as a cold-blooded murderer. As the reader learns more about his past, it is difficult not to feel empathy for him.
I found the conversations between Sliver and Franklin to be humorous. The violence in the novel did not appear to be overly graphic. I enjoyed the author’s writing style and humor. The comment from Rex to Franklin when he said, “Open wide, Commodore sixty-four” made me smile. I got a visual on what Rex saw as the difference in his own sophisticated programming compared to Franklin. Some of the author’s descriptions are quite poetic and moving. One example is, “Sliver only knelt, stunned to his soul, feeling now for the first time the enormity of a just fraction of the true pain his actions had brought on so many others.”
A few things struck me as I read various parts of the book. The robotic, bipedal weapons portray how inhumane this technology can be and how easy it is for someone to use it from a remote location, without considering the cost of human life. I noticed the greed of the CEOs and the Board of Directors behind them. It made me think, the more things change, the more they stay the same. When Franklin mentioned, “Biological intelligence has been obsolete since the 2020’s." I wondered how, and in what way.
I felt the novel was well-written and professionally edited. My rating is 4 out of 4 stars. I recommend it to those that enjoy dystopian novels, science fiction, or have an interest in history, and current events. I rarely read dystopian novels, so I am glad that I gave this one a try, it was worth it.
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