25 August 2010

74. Jennifer Government

Jennifer Government - Max Barry

This was an outstanding novel written by an Aussie fellow with some attitude.

What happens when a Capitalist society no longer has the Government keeping it in check? In this story the author calls it Capitalizm. This book is written in a world where big corporations are more like governments themselves. International borders are defined by corporate mergers and alliances more than they are by the borders of today.

People are different in this world also. They take the name of the corporation for which they work as their surname. Hence Jennifer Government. Jennifer actually works for the government. Her daughter, Kate, is not named government. She is named Mattel. Why? Her school is sponsored by Mattel, of course.

There are characters named Hack Nike, John Nike, Buy Matsui, McDonalds, NRA, Burger King, Exxon-Mobil, Shell, and every other company you could think of.

I found it very interesting how the NRA itself becomes a major player in the world as not so much a company, but as a security force. Kind of like BlackWater. The thing is that these guys have fighter jets, naval ships, and forces comparable to modern day military. They are able to get these things because they are allied with Boeing, Sikorsky, or other current government contractors.

The government still exists, but has serious limits to its powers. For instance, before Jennifer is able to investigate the murders of fourteen children as a publicity stunt by the Nike marketing department...she has to go to the victims families to raise the funds needed to do the investigation. There are no taxes and therefore no government funds to use for this purpose, or any other. Needless to say, this puts the ultra-rich corporations at a tremendous advantage.

The corporations have no fear of government at all. They eventually align into two groups of competitors trying to bring in customers. These two groups end up in a full out battle with missles and guns and all that stuff. They all get together in London with the government (President, etc) in London at Parliament. The groups make a declaration that government no longer exists and has no authority over them. Then the groups shoot down the government airplane as it flies back to Washington DC. There essentially is no government.

Well, eventually, after much action and manipulation, some of the corporations realize that anarchy is not what is best for the corporate environment and that they need some government. The world calms down and the story ends.

But, none of that is what the story is about really. It is about Jennifer, her daughter, the Nike Liaison (John) she is hunting down as a criminal, Billy NRA and his adventures, Hack Nike and Buy Matsui trying to work their way up the corporate ladder along with Violet, an unemployed entrepreneur, and Claire, a radical protestor, are sisters. All of them get caught up in a more than they bargained for.

And yes, Jennifer got a barcode tattoo under her left eye. Until the very last few pages I was wondering why and what it meant. It is kind of funny once you find out what it was for. :-)

Jennifer Government was a fascinating story that was fun to read. I liked it a lot. More Max Barry please. Syrup and Company are already on the list. Machine Man should be out soon.

FYI…Max Barry has also designed a website where you can run your own country. It is kind of interesting. I started goofing around with it about a week ago. It is called NationStates and is based on the research he did to write Jennifer Government. Check it out. I created “The Free land of Somnambulistic Peoples”. Max even had the United Nations write him a "cease and desist" letter because NationStates was able to accomplish more than they were. LOL

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