Science fiction is an unhelpful label but a useful genre. Liz Jensen's third novel, The Paper Eater
, is undeniably SF. It has an artificial landmass; a computer that runs the entire country--Atlantica--but is only "the size of a home refrigerator"; and a social landscape in which new management and consumer languages are developed. With all the trappings of SF, this novel is at heart a damning and wild satire of consumerism run riot.
On Atlantica, the artificial island that has based its success on accepting any and all waste from all over the world, everyone is a consumer. Libertycare, with its monolithic Head Office and automated Hotline Consumer Controls runs everything, keeping the customer happy no matter what:
"What Libertycare has done ... is to stop randomness in its tracks, by imposing a system of fairness that's respected worldwide ... The life of a typical Atlantican customer is not a string of random events. It is an incentive scheme in action..."
Harvey Kidd and Hannah Park are both emotionally stunted victims of "the death of politics" and, along with a strong cast of real and unreal characters, are manoeuvred by projected consumer trends and the wily, artificially sexy Facilitator General into becoming scapegoats for the system. However people, as Harvey observes, can sometimes win by being stupid. As the appearance of Utopia starts to fade, criminals and even geology itself return to haunt the terrible Paradise. --John Shire
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
'Dazzling ... Liz Jensen is one of the few living writers who can be described as genuinely original' Matt Thorne 'Bitingly funny, unsettling and touching' Sunday Times 'Sparkling ... sharp, funny and richly imagined, this is as timely a warning about rampant consumerism as Orwell's 1984 was about state control' Sunday Express 'An exuberant fable that is a million miles from the current slew of relationship novels. Liz Jensen has more invention and wit in her little finger than all of their creators put together' Independent