New York City, the near future: Mitchell Zukor, a gifted young mathematician, is hired by a mysterious new financial consulting firm, FutureWorld. The business operates out of an empty office in the Empire State Building; Mitchell is employee number two. He is asked to calculate worst-case scenarios in the most intricate detail, and his schemes are sold to corporations to indemnify them against any future disasters. This is the cutting edge of corporate irresponsibility, and business is booming. As Mitchell immerses himself in the mathematics of catastrophe - ecological collapse, war games, natural disasters - he becomes obsessed by a culture's fears.
Yet he also loses touch with his last connection to reality: Elsa Bruner, a friend with her own apocalyptic secret, who has started a commune in Maine. Then, just as Mitchell's predictions reach a nightmarish crescendo, an actual worst-case scenario overtakes Manhattan. Mitchell realizes he is uniquely prepared to profit. But at what cost?
At once, an all-too-plausible literary thriller, an unexpected love story, and a philosophically searching inquiry into the nature of fear, Nathaniel Rich's Odds Against Tomorrow poses the ultimate questions of imagination and civilization. The future is not quite what it used to be.
©2013 Nathaniel Rich (P)2013 Tantor
"It is almost impossible to read this novel without indelible images of Hurricane Sandy coming to mind. The novel succeeds on its own terms in envisioning such a disaster in terrifyingly visceral terms. And Mitchell's intensely fraught journey from man of intellect to man of action is one the [listener] will not soon forget." (Publishers Weekly)
"Let's just, right away, recognize how prescient this charming, terrifying, comic novel of apocalyptic manners is...Rich is a gifted caricaturist and a gifted apocalyptist. His descriptions of the vagaries of both nature and human nature are stark, fresh, and convincing, full of surprise and recognition as both good comedy and good terror must be." (The New York Review of Books)
"This literary thriller is blessed with a propulsive plot, macabre humor, several richly developed characters, and serious ethical and philosophical issues, all lightly clothed in skillful writing. Highly recommended." (Booklist)
A re-write ....
The story is just soft, in one paragraph you go from one life changing decision to another without any progression or sequencing.
No... The performance was good.
Rich has written an apocalypse for today’s thinking man, for Wall Street Bankers, for capitalist America. He’s written this book for everyone who keeps working even after their office fire alarm goes off. This book is funny, weird, and dark. It approaches apocalypse from a totally different angle, and different is good. Odds Against Tomorrow is also a lesser time investment than some of the classic apocalyptic fiction (The Stand, Swan Song) at 10 hours listening time.
I didn't read the print version. No way of telling.
Yes. Compelling dytopian story, in a crowded field of them.A unique take on this topic, with a compelling set of characters.
Kirby rocked this. One of the best performances of the year. He OWNS the principals.The performance of this book is equal to the writing. Very impressive.
The post storm scenes of NYC are moving,and paint a grim, accurate picture.
Scott Simon interviewed the author on Weekend Edition in mid May , and I found the conversation compelling and worth the listen. This is an excellent credit investment.
Speed up the last third of the book.
Mitchell's character and obsessions are the most interesting. The details of settling the swamp are less so.
He's a fine reader, but I don't think I would feel differently if I read the book.
Interesting conceit. Mitchell's rise in the world of greed and finance is well done and fun to read. There's no great life-changing message, but the book was entertaining and diverting, perfect beach reading.
A better story-line. I avoid sci-fi and dystopian stories, but this one somehow made it past the radar. Not exactly sci-fi, but the monster hurricane that destroys NYC is close. (Hurricane Sandy was a blinking neon sign throughout.) Most of the book had an active plot-line that kept you engaged, until the last quarter, when it petered out. Protagonist is an uninteresting, unpleasant and unlikable person with little character development. I don't know what the point of this book is, or what message the author was trying to send.
Yes, once I figure out what the genre is
I don't know, I didn't read the physical book
Mitchell, the protagonist
Avoid. I may ask for a refund.
As a story, much of this is soggy and meandering. But it turns out to be enjoyable for my purposes. I'm not much of a novel reader: maybe one every 4 years. But I am immersing in serious risk management books aplenty (which audible hasn't shown much interest in producing; oh well. Exception: Nassim Taleb's works are here). What this book does for me, on my breaks from the dry risk management books, is toss the concepts around in colorful and shocking little ways and images. So it is a perfect counterpoint to my studies. This writing style reminds me much of Chuck Palahniuk (Fight Club): the author has a keen ear for technical language and concepts, and nimbly reels off strange, surreal, but plausible (possible, but extremely improbable) images and scenes via drolly reciting odd lists of sometimes banal things. It is a sort of nerd noir. Here, there are holes: the main character often does things a supposed risk management genius would see through and not do; the business dealings and legal constructs are often implausible; Manhattan finance people are not this gullible or ignorant (we can only hope). But that doesn't keep the piece from being entertaining, often just in a weird scene glimpsed inside one sentence, that may actually provoke some creative risk thinking and imagination.
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