2013 Philip K. Dick Award Special Citation of Excellence
"Orwell, Vonnegut, and Douglas Adams are felt on every page, though Magnason is never derivative. His satire and insightful social commentary sweeten the pot and the sheer wackiness of Magnason’s oversized imagination is invigorating."—Publishers Weekly, starred review
LoveStar, the enigmatic and obsessively driven founder of the LoveStar corporation, has unlocked the key to transmitting data via birdwaves, thus freeing mankind from wires and devices, and allowing consumerism, technology, and science to run rampant over all aspects of daily life. Cordless modern men and women are paid to howl advertisements at unsuspecting passers-by, REGRET machines eliminate doubt over roads not taken, soul mates are identified and brought together (while existing, unscientifically validated relationships are driven remorselessly asunder), and rocketing the dead into the sky becomes both a status symbol and a beautiful, cathartic show for those left behind.
Indridi and Sigrid, two blissfully happy young lovers, have their perfect worlds threatened (along with Indridi’s sanity) when they are “calculated apart” and are forced to go to extreme lengths to prove their love. Their journey ultimately puts them on a collision course with LoveStar, who is on his own mission to find what might become the last idea in the world.
Steeped in influences ranging from Italo Calvino, Jorge Luis Borges, and Kurt Vonnegut to George Orwell, Douglas Adams, and Monty Python, Andri Snær Magnason has created a surreal yet uncomfortably familiar world, where the honey embrace of love does its utmost to survive amid relentless and overpowering controls.
In this outlandish yet poignant dystopian allegory, Magnason (Dreamland: A Self-Help Manual for a Frightened Nation) imagines a post-technological world in which the relationship between people and information is turned on its head. "Cordless" citizens are freed from gadgets and wires while REGRET, something like a retroactive Magic 8 Ball if envisioned by Vonnegut, renders every choice the right one. Louts hoping to pay down debt become "ad howlers," "AdTraps," and "Secret Hosts" human bullhorns spouting targeted advertisements or post-purchase praise ("YOU WERE UNBELIEVABLY COOL TO BUY SUCH GROOVY SHOES!") to pedestrians. At funerals run by LoveDeath, bodies are launched into space and mourners watch their loved ones "burn up under the heavenly plough" upon re-entry. At the helm of this carefully monitored and controlled society is LoveStar, a God-like old man with three hours left to live and a mission to "free people from the oppression of freedom." Then there's Indridi and Sigrid, who want to stick together despite inLOVE's calculation of Sigrid as better matched with a Danish man. Orwell, Vonnegut, and Douglas Adams are felt on every page, though Magnason is never derivative. His satire and insightful social commentary sweeten the pot and the sheer wackiness of Magnason's oversized imagination is invigorating.