Jennifer Government

Jennifer Government by Max Barry (Vintage Books, 2003)

This is a fast-moving science fiction novel about the near future, though it was probably a lot funnier in 2003 when the future it described seemed comfortably far away. Eleven years later, we’re about halfway there. In this world, Australia is part of the United States, taxes have been abolished, and privatization has advanced to its logical endpoint. Schools are run by youth oriented companies like Mattel and McDonalds, and your last name is the company or organization you work for. Some of the main characters in the story include Hack Nike, Claire Sears, Violet ExxonMobil, and Buy Matsui. Jennifer Government is a police detective and single parent who belongs to a small and rapidly diminishing set of Americans who believe murder is wrong and should be prosecuted. The heads of companies such as Nike think it’s fine to kill a few people for marketing purposes (and proceed to do so). By the end, there is an actual war (with guns and bombs) between the top two brand loyalty associations of multinational corporations. Are you ready to live in a world where Mac versus Windows and Pepsi versus Coke are life or death decisions?

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