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Odds Against Tomorrow | [Nathaniel Rich]

Odds Against Tomorrow

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.
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Audible Editor Reviews

Editors Select, May 2013 - I was interested in Nathaniel Rich’s Odds Against Tomorrow because it sounded like an off-centered, dark, and altogether odd story. What I’ve read so far has proven me right, but there’s so much more to be discovered that I’m thoroughly intrigued by what lies ahead. Mitchell Zukoff is in the insurance business, and a recent catastrophe has driven a huge demand for his work. He’s good at selling fear because he himself is intensely fearful – of carbon monoxide poisoning, tidal waves, fault lines, and other disasters and their probabilities. While Rich’s tone gives a sense of impending doom, there is an optimistic lightness in Mitchell’s unusual correspondence with an old friend, and it’s this light/dark contrast that I find most interesting about the book so far. I’m also very interested to hear what narrator Kirby Heybourne does with this book, as his performances of Gone Girl and Cloud Atlas are loved by our listeners. —Chris, Audible Editor

Publisher's Summary

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

What the Critics Say

"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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

2.9 (36 )
5 star
 (4)
4 star
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3 star
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Overall
2.9 (33 )
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3.6 (30 )
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Holly United States 06-03-13
    Holly United States 06-03-13 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
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    Story
    "Stay away"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    A re-write ....


    What was most disappointing about Nathaniel Rich’s story?

    The story is just soft, in one paragraph you go from one life changing decision to another without any progression or sequencing.


    Have you listened to any of Kirby Heyborne’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No... The performance was good.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    Not really.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kali Walnut Creek, CA 08-25-13
    Kali Walnut Creek, CA 08-25-13 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    30
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    Story
    "The apocalypse, statistically speaking."

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Matthew SEATTLE, WA, United States 05-31-13
    Matthew SEATTLE, WA, United States 05-31-13 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    622
    ratings
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    204
    172
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    102
    12
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    Performance
    Story
    "And the forecast for tomorrow is...."
    Would you consider the audio edition of Odds Against Tomorrow to be better than the print version?

    I didn't read the print version. No way of telling.


    Would you recommend Odds Against Tomorrow to your friends? Why or why not?

    Yes. Compelling dytopian story, in a crowded field of them.A unique take on this topic, with a compelling set of characters.


    What about Kirby Heyborne’s performance did you like?

    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.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The post storm scenes of NYC are moving,and paint a grim, accurate picture.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark E. White Atlanta, GA USA 05-16-13
    Mark E. White Atlanta, GA USA 05-16-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
    11
    ratings
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    10
    6
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    Story
    "Amusing, but slows down at the end"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    Speed up the last third of the book.


    What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

    Mitchell's character and obsessions are the most interesting. The details of settling the swamp are less so.


    What does Kirby Heyborne bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    He's a fine reader, but I don't think I would feel differently if I read the book.


    Could you see Odds Against Tomorrow being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

    No.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Eric Los Angeles, CA, United States 10-08-13
    Eric Los Angeles, CA, United States 10-08-13 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    12
    ratings
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    "Dystopian Sci-Fi that putters out at the end"
    What would have made Odds Against Tomorrow better?

    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.


    Has Odds Against Tomorrow turned you off from other books in this genre?

    Yes, once I figure out what the genre is


    What does Kirby Heyborne bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    I don't know, I didn't read the physical book


    What character would you cut from Odds Against Tomorrow?

    Mitchell, the protagonist


    Any additional comments?

    Avoid. I may ask for a refund.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    PHIL San Diego, CA, United States 07-15-13
    PHIL San Diego, CA, United States 07-15-13 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Quirky risk-noir"

    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.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
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