12 December 2010

Jennifer Government

Companies claimed to be highly responsive, Jennifer thought, but you had only to chase a screaming man through their offices to realize it wasn't true.

In case you are wondering, "Jennifer" is a federal agent and the "screaming man" is a murderer whom she is trying to apprehend.

Jennifer is also the Jennifer Government of the title. This novel, a hilariously frightening spoof warning about unrestrained deregulation of markets, describes a near future world in which employees take their surname from their employer – while entrepreneurs and the unemployed have no surname at all. Jennifer takes her name from her government employment; the screaming man is John Nike, whose employer you can probably guess.

That's not all that has changed. Canada, South Africa, Australasia, Indonesia, India and much of south east Asia, Japan, the United Kingdom, the whole of South America, are now integrated territories of the US; Russia and the former USSR partially integrated affiliates. The EU apart from Britain is a separate, competitor block where, to quote a teenage high school character (Hayley McDonalds: she takes her surname from the Burger franchise which runs her school), “the Government isn't privatized, they still have to pay tax and do whatever the Government says, which would really suck”.

Being privatised, the Government requires that Jennifer get funding for every investigation before doing any work on it. In the case of this murder investigation, that means the relatives selling their house. Military functions are purchased by companies from groups such as the Police or the NRA, who may in turn (according to commercial circumstances) subcontract to each other or shoot each other.


  • Max Barry, Jennifer Government. 2003, London: Abacus. 9780349117621 (pbk)


Geoff said...

Just around the corner.
HSBC - my bank - and Paypal now tell me who I can or cannot send monies to. I mananged to get a donation to Wikileaks before Paypal "pulled the plug" but now a Swiss bank has got it's grimey hands and it and, it seems, is keeping it !

Dr. C said...

I liked the bit about having a barcode on your cheek

Geoff said...

There are some Republicans in the US who have advocated having all new born micro chipped/bar coded. With GPS and Cyanide micro dot built in ?

Dr. C said...

Shades of 1953 "Invasion from Mars." Actually, they already have our minds. Or, at least, Glen Beck does.

Felix said...

Geoff: do you have a verifying link for the microchipped newborns thing?

Geoff said...

No, I heard it on Radio 4 some years ago and believed it was a sincere report.