4 out of 4 stars
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Set in the near future where corporations rule society, World Incorporated is the story of a hitman working for one of those corporations to eliminate anyone deemed a threat to the company. While on a mission to eliminate two would-be terrorists, Agent Sliver finds a girl who doesn’t exist in any database. She triggers a flood of feeling within his otherwise cold and unfeeling self. He defies all protocol and brings her along with him, but it is only the first in a string of rebellious acts against the system he works to maintain.
If all you want is another Hunger Games, then this book is probably not for you. World Incorporated is presented as a dystopian novel, but it is not the typical dystopia readers have come to expect from books such as 1984. This is a world where people have surrendered their rights to a number of corporations in exchange for stability and security. These are people who do not yet know how repressive this government is. As long as they are shielded and distanced from the horrors of those corporations, the people have no desire for change; and Sliver has no hope of winning allies. It is a clever work that makes the reader ponder this current society and wonder if we have given up too much already in the name of safety or convenience.
As a true dystopia, World Incorporated presents Agent Sliver as someone who knows they have so little freedom, he seeks that freedom and reclaims it among the smallest acts of defiance. He cannot hope to take on and change his society, so he sets the bar low, claiming small victories when he kills his targets or spares their lives because he “chooses” to, and not because he was “ordered” to.
Science fiction fans who enjoy stories that give them a lot to chew on will enjoy World Incorporated. Tom Gariffo put a lot of thought into the world he created. It is not simply a mouthpiece for anti-corporation sentiment, rather it is a well-rounded world where the corporations, given a true free hand, have provided genuine benefit to society. It is up to the reader to parse the costs and determine for themselves if this is a path we want our own society moving toward. Science fiction fans who enjoy the challenge will appreciate the dilemma Gariffo presents to them.
The one flaw of the story might be the full chapters of newspaper articles and corporate memos which detail the history of this world. The dreaded “info dumps” are quite large, and it might have made it easier on the readers if those chapters were broken up a little more. Still, I found myself getting swept up in those bits. The part of me that enjoys world building in science fiction, took great pleasure in parsing the stories and statements, wondering how much of the reporting was genuine in the later stages, and how much of it was company propaganda.
Those who prefer their science fiction to be simple action adventures will also enjoy World Incorporated. When Agent Sliver is on the page, he goes from one assignment to the next, with little break. There is little rest for our busy hero! It is easy to forgive and forget the history lesson if that is not your kind of thing in science fiction.
Overall, I give World Incorporated 4 out of 4 stars. This is one of the rare books that really made me think about the world it presented. It is one of the rare books where those thoughts stick with me after putting it down. To me, science fiction should make us think about issues and ideas, even if we don’t agree with those issues and ideas. World Incorporated succeeded, and it should be on every science fiction fan’s to-read list.
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