Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Read: Jennifer Government

I just finished Jennifer Government by Max Barry. This is the author who wrote the Nation States online game as a promotional for his book. I was quite surprised to see this in the National Library, and picked it up out of sudden interest.

The book is written in a more or less spoofy manner - the tone is deliberately over-the-top, and while an entertaining read, does not seem to me to really introduce any new ideas. The premise of the book is (what seems to me to be) a libertariansystem - the Government's role has shrunk to enforcement of the laws protecting persons from violence, and Government itself has become a corporation only able to pursue cases where there is an interested party willing to pay for investigations. Beyond that, the large corporations have generally "taken over" and most people are defined by their employment to a ridiculous degree - Jennifer Government is so named because Jennifer is employed by the Government. And so Hack Nike, Buy Mitsui, Billy NRA are all employed by those corporations.

The problem is, Max Barry takes such a tongue-in-cheek look at the premise that it seems to me that he's making fun of the whole idea rather than placing us in a hypothetical future. In that way, it's quite a lot more like Headcrash (Bethke) than Snow Crash (Stephenson). So it's an entertaining read but no brain activity going on, you know?

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