Justin Cord is the only unincorporated man in the world, a true stranger in this strange land. Justin survived because he is tough and smart. He cannot accept only part ownership of himself, even if that places him in conflict with a civilization that extends outside the solar system to the Oort Cloud. People will be arguing about this novel and this world for decades.
©2009 Dani and Eytan Kollin; (P)2009 Tantor
This is a difficult book to quantify.
Generally, when I'm listening to an audiobook and still find myself reaching for a magazine to read, it means that I'm finding the audiobook kind of dull. I found myself doing that a lot during this book, but I don't know if dull is exactly the right word.
The book is mostly exposition. There are characters, and it's a work of fiction, but most of the book isn't about telling the story of the characters, it's about describing how and why everything in the fictional world is the way it is.
If you've ever read State of Fear by Michael Crichton, you'll understand what I mean; essentially, you don't feel like you're being told a story about characters; you feel like you're being given a political/social/cultural message that has some characters added in an attempt to make the subject matter seem a bit less dry.
Given that the world the authors have created is kind of interesting, all the exposition isn't really 'dull', but it IS monotonous.
I liked the characters, liked technology, and enjoyed the idea of this future world, but I kind of wish I'd been shown rather than told. Still, it's not a waste of a credit, unless you're looking for an action-packed sf book.
If you can make your way through the initial implausibility of the main character's ability to adapt to his new environs, and how he matter-of-factly handles his situation, then you are in for a compelling sci-fi/social commentary.
It's definitely not the greatest audiobook I've listened to in this category, but it's not bad, either. If you're familiar with the works of Robert J. Sawyer, you would feel right at home here. Dani and Eytan Kollin bring out that same kind of sci-fi folksiness as Sawyer does, which is good if you're not in the mood to have your mind totally blown but still want a compelling story.
When I read or listen to books about the future, I pay special attention to the uses and abuses of technology, and how probable the author's vision is in comparison with current technologies and trends. I would say that this book does a good job describing a nonotech-dominant future in great detail.
The human side of the story is unfortunately lacking in originality, but that shouldn't dissuade you from giving it a listen. Most sci-fi stories are inept at character development anyway ;)
I rarely ever write reviews for books because most people usually say what I want to say. I felt I needed to comment on this book.
Simply put, it was fantastic! Character development was well thought out, and well balanced. The story line was suspenseful and kept me engrossed. One of the best parts about this story was not only was I able to sympathize with the protagonist (a given) but at many times I also could sympathize with the antagonist. It's one of the few times that I've read/listened to a book and have actually wavered as to whether I wanted the protagonist to change his beliefs.
There are some unanswered questions but not anything that needed to be wrapped up by this book. I can't wait to see some of those questions answered.
I must admit I was unable to really finish the book. It just got too bogged down in moralizing and utopian tracts such that the central story seemed to be pushed to the side. The main character seems a bit too perfect and lacks much depth, and the villain is practically twirling his mustache with evil.
I think my biggest problem is that he seems to rage against the society so much, but really nothing about the society he opposes seems all that bad. It seems fine, if a little dull, but fine. The biggest thing the book lacks, is any real criticism of this utopian future. If it was a more balanced utopian distopian society his opposition to it would make more sense.
I may finish the book at some point, but I just found it wasn't for me. Although I think others could really enjoy it.
Audio Book Fan
I believe it was Lois McMaster Bujold that pointed out that Science Fiction should make you think - this title not only accomplishes that but gives you a full set of questions to think ABOUT.
The basic premise? In the future (350 years +) every human born is his own corporation - from birth. Into this cultural matrix comes a man from the present day - complete with all our culture's hangups and virtues - including a horror of having someone owning a part of them. While the book DOES give a logical reason for the custom to have arisen, this means that without ever attempting to be an irritant - he becomes a rallying point for the discontented. Since he's foresighted enough to have brought along items to give him a financial base - the corporations running things have a real problem. Especially since some highly placed anonymous person seems to be supporting his bid for independence . . .
No. I won't tell you what happens next - that's the narrator's job - but this book really is worth your time.
I wanted to finish this book, and I will, but I'll actually read it. The concept of this novel is fresh (even if the dialogue is a bit stilted) but the voice actor (Todd McLaren) completely ruins it for me. His intonations are so over the top as to almost sound like he's mocking audio books in general. Get the novel, forget the audiobook.
The basic premise is an interesting one; humans as corporations. But it's handled so poorly here that one wonders why the attempt was even made. The authors seem to be trying to make some kind of statement about the nature of corporations, yet they get basic details wrong, and the scenario is so far-fetched it's hard to see how one could extract any meaningful comparison to our own society.
These would be quibbles if the story and characters themselves were interesting, but alas we're treated to an endless array of cardboard cutouts. One soldiers through, hoping to find a story taking wing, but instead all one gets is an endless parade of one-dimensional, unbelievable characters. The villain might as well be twirling a waxed mustache, and an attempted love interest subplot is ruined by hackneyed attempts at foreshadowing.
This is one stock to be dumped.
I'm an aspiring author, a lawyer, a sci-fi fan, a father, and a harsh critic of pretty much everything. I enjoy audiobooks because I read very slowly, and audiobooks allow me to consume novels at a rate that would be impossible for me to achieve with printed text.
The authors had a compelling premise here, but spoiled it by imposing a good versus evil showdown on top of what could have been a fascinating moral issue.
The protagonist wakes up in world where everyone is incorporated at birth, and where they own less than a majority of their own stock. Our hero is startled at the perceived lack of liberty that these people have, though it is pointed out to him again and again that this system eliminated poverty and war, creating an overall quality of life that is much better for everyone on average.
If the book had taken time to let the readers explore the pros and cons of this new system, and make up their own minds about it's validity and morality, then this could have been a great book. Instead, we are immediately confronted with a too-evil bad guy who ends up representing all of incorporation (metaphorically and literally). Because he is such an evil jerk, we, as readers, are forced to align ourselves against him, in spite of the fact that his arguments are extremely convincing. We are told what to think instead of letting us make up our own minds.
The writing feels pretty amateurish in that the protagonist is way too smart/prescient at the beginning, though that seems to taper off steeply as the story progresses. There are other places where the writing is half-baked: entire plot lines, which seem vital to the story, are abandoned completely. Also, their is this really contrived will-they/won't-they romance based on a ridiculously unbelievable and artificial taboo. This taboo seems sacrosanct until it is broken, at which point everyone important acts like it is no big deal at all--totally inconsistent.
The authors did paint an interesting picture of future society and technology, which is largely why I've given them 3 stars instead of just 2.
Ultimately I'm left unsatisfied with this book, largely because I was very swayed by the pro-incorporation arguments, and the anti-incorporation argument really boiled down to feelings, rather than any articulated points against it.
Avid listener of SciFi and Fantacy.
This book brings us to a world that looks like the best of our possible futures from now with one glaring exception. Everyone in this world is personally incorporated. That means that everyone has stock in themselves and it can be bought and sold like any other stock. 5% of your stock goes to the government, and 20% goes to your parents. The governments stock can never be sold or increased. I would say that the 5% is basically a 5% flat tax but in this world TAX is the most foul of words. All of the rest of your stock is yours to do with as you please, of course if you want to go to school the school will expect a percentage of you, and so will pretty much anyone or anything you want. And the real kicker is that when you give up 51% of Personal Corporation then the shareholder can call a vote for anything you want to do, after all they have a vested interest in making sure you make as much money and stay as safe as possible. Want to go sky diving, we don’t think so, want to take leave to see friends or family, well that’s fine but we will tell you when it would be best for us not for you. The system seems to work well and one character, the man villain of the piece, even gives a rather compelling argument for why it’s better than our system. I really did like this book but you can tell just from this description and the title what happens next. Into this perfect system come one man who has very incorporated, the rest is inevitable. I could have told you what was going to happen at virtually any stage in the book. There was one twist with AI’s in the web but that seems to have been a tangent that was never followed up on. I don’t want to give anything away because I do recommend it to anyone who likes sci-fi and alternate realities/futures but if you find yourself putting pieces together very early in the book, don’t look for unexpected twists or turns, you probably guessed right the first time. TTFN
I found this story very well done. The author wrote it in such a way as to make you think that the story is very predictable, but then all of a sudden he takes you in a very different direction. He also does it in such a way so that when you look back at the story it all fits. He doesn't just throw things in. He really does a good job of it. Another thing done well is the construction of the world in which he places you. It is very believable and hopefully in the not to distant future some of the tech described will come about. Lastly the description of the political environment will and should provide many hours of thought and discussion for those interested in such things. And I would highly recommend it as a good read for a political science class to stimulate discussion.
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