A dystopian comedy about a future U.S. that has finally achieved equality for all people—by engineering all aspects of its citizens’ lives.
Zeidman presents a world in which government protection has been taken to its extreme. The state espouses laudable ideals—equality, tolerance, safety, fairness. But the result is a nanny-state in which all Americans are guaranteed comfortable incomes regardless of disability, lack of talent or disinclination to work, and they’re protected from injury, discomfort and hurt feelings by a labyrinthine series of regulations. Winston Jones is a government “Repudiator,” whose job is to intercept impromptu public speeches and respectfully present counterarguments—regardless of the topic—so that listeners will be sure to know both sides of any given issue. Jones is an eloquent speaker and enjoys following the rules; he knows they are in his best interest. But when the covert Fairness for EveryBody Society informs him that he has secretly been chosen to be the next U.S. president due to his ideal mix of demographic characteristics, he learns that the government’s methods of ensuring “fairness” may not be so admirable. To his surprise, Alisa Rosenbaum, a disturbingly attractive co-worker, knows the Society has tapped him. She introduces him to the “Freedman Group,” an underground band of dissenters that promotes the revival of free market capitalism. Will he accept the presidency? And, if so, will he follow marching orders? Or will he join the Freedman Group and “bring America back to greatness”? The partisan bent of the novel is clear—liberal civil rights activism and attempts to promote social justice, consumer protections and public health through legislation intrude on the rights of private citizens and hinder business interests. But the book is intelligently written and often very funny, and Zeidman maintains a level of civility that is refreshing in today’s polarized political climate. Because liberals are unlikely to agree with his assessment of where the country is headed or be as tickled by inventions such as the “Radical Femlamism” movement, it’s hard to see the book doing more than preaching to the choir—but for those already in the choir it has much to recommend it.
A solid political satire sure to provide conservatives with a few good chuckles.