the Little Red Reviewer

Archive for the ‘Marc-Uwe Kling’ Category

Horror might be too scary for me, but I love satire.  The more biting, the better. 

 

If you enjoy satire, if you enjoy laughing your head off, if you enjoy hollering to your spouse “honey get over here, i have to read this out loud to you, it’s so funny!!!”, Qualityland by Marc-Uwe Kling is the next book you should read. 

 

Published in Germany in 2017, the novel finally came to the English reading world in 2020. From the bland cover, my first thought was this was a book about agriculture? Maybe about sustainable agriculture?  Yeah . . . .  no!  If Facebook and Amazon were algorithm steroids pumped into the movie Idiocracy if written by Douglas Adams, you might be getting close to the make fun of everything free for all that is Qualityland. I can only assume Southpark has made their version of this too.

In the nation of Qualityland, it isn’t the government that watches your every move, it’s the algorithms that run everything from the countrywide communication devices to TheShop (knows what you want before you do!) to QualityPartner (matching you with the top person for you!).  There’s no government big brother here, only algorithms that watch and record your every move, every preference, every conversation, and every internet click. So the programs and systems you count on can serve you better! Can bring you more of what they know you love!

 

If Cory Doctorow wrote this book, it would be terrifying. 

 

But Marc-Uwe Kling wrote it, so it’s hilarious. 

 

In Qualityland, children are named after the occupation of their parents, so you get funny names like Melissa Sex-Worker,  Cynthia Helicopter-Pilot, Sandra Admin, and Tim E-Sportsman. Melissa’s current career by the way, is making sure online news articles have the right comments. And she comments on everything. Sandra’s job is writing click-baity headlines. Doesn’t matter what the article is actually about (an algorithm wrote the actual article, no one cares if a human ever reads it), Sandra’s job is to make sure as many people as possible click on the headline.  

 

The story follows Peter Jobless, who runs a scrap metal shop.  After Peter’s girlfriend Sandra Admin left him (at the prompting of her QualityPartner profile), his social score dropped below ten and his horrified friends unfriended him.  Peter’s secret is that his basement is full of slightly malfunctioning robots, which is a much longer story than this blog post has time for.  Peter may not have many friends IRL, but his robot friends include an e-poet/novelist, a drone who is afraid of heights, an obnoxious older model tablet, a hulking military robot who Groot-like only says the word “Kaput”, a heartbroken male sexbot, and a handful of others. 

 

The story begins when TheShop delivers something to Peter that he most definitely doesn’t want, and doesn’t need.   The algorithms of TheShop are never wrong! Even if he doesn’t think he needs this item, deep down he must need it! Surely even he can find a use for this item!  Does TheShop have a returns department? Of course they do! But their algorithms are never wrong, surely Peter must want this item! 

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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.