cover image The Futurist

The Futurist

James P. Othmer, . . Doubleday, $23.95 (257pp) ISBN 978-0-385-51722-5

As Young & Rubicam ad exec Othmer's satirical first novel opens, famed pop pundit J.P. Yates, having emptied his hotel minibar, experiences an epiphany: he's a fake. After years of peddling insights to any group willing to pay him well—one week he assures a Bible college's graduates that God has a future, the next he assures adult video distributors that porn has a future—he stuns attendees at a Futureworld conference in South Africa by declaring himself "founding father of the Coalition of the Clueless." Ironically, his career takes off: he's more in demand than ever and is even recruited to travel the world asking why everyone hates the U.S. Othmer takes amusing swipes at the likes of (real-life) futurist Faith Popcorn, New York Times columnist Tom Friedman and billionaires Ted Turner and Bill Gates, but the real target of this blistering tale is the American government's post-9/11 arrogance, come home to roost in the fictional Middle East nation of Bas'ar, where press release cant substitutes for untenable reality. A short story excerpted from the novel was a National Magazine Award finalist; this spirited dissection of the contemporary cultural and political zeitgeist is a stylish winner in its own intelligently weird right. (June)