Book Review: Michael Bollen ~ Earth Inc. (2008)

When I first read this in 2008 I hugged myself with delight, took careful note of the author’s name and waited for the next display of brilliance. I’m still waiting. He’s a one hit wonder like Procol Harum’s A Whiter Shade of Pale (1967). A work of total genius flowing from a single seminal period which promptly ran dry.

Bollen conceives of a society which has sold its soul to the Softcom Tech company. They literally control the world and have monetised everything. Only those people who are shareholders have any rights: they are part of Life Itself. This concept is literal. All elements of life are filtered through the number of shares you own. Housing, holidays and food are all related to your entitlements through the shareholder rights scheme.

The downside is that if you don’t have any shares you become a Non. Non’s live beyond the walls of the cities and have no rights to anything, which includes food and housing. Losing your shareholder rights is tantamount to a death sentence, except there is a gruesome sort of life going on beyond the walls. Needless to relate Jorj is evicted and there’s a wonderful passage of him beyond the wall.

Bollen also has a mad scientist who develops nano-technological bio-weapons which are beyond his control and threatens to eat the world: literally.

Try this

As well as the time, the screen embedded in his wrist displayed various other pieces of information. The temperature scrolled from left to right, followed by Jorj’s name, which would have been spelt ‘George’ had his birth not been registered by text message. He flashed his lifePod ostentatiously at his fellow travellers. They ignored him, being either too wrapped up in their own misery or not geeky enough to recognise the gadget’s special specifications…. The lifePod had only been plumbed into his vein a few weeks ago and he was still absurdly proud of it.” pp8-9

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