Sensation Machines

Adam Wilson. Soho, $27 (384p) ISBN 978-1-64129-165-1
Wilson’s scathing, engrossing latest (after Flatscreen), a satire of digital and consumer culture in a near-future New York, centers on Michael and Wendy, a 40-something married couple who become divided over a government-created Universal Basic Income program. Wendy works in marketing and is tasked with creating an anti-UBI ad campaign in order to promote a secretive data-mining product. Michael, a dividend trader obsessed with the artistry of Eminem (Michael called himself MC WebMD in college), loses his savings via bad investments and reels from the murder of his friend, the flamboyant and wealthy Ricky. Michael’s suspicions range from Wendy’s employers to members of the city’s #Occupy movement being responsible for the murder, and while spiraling into a depressive breakdown, he launches a quest for justice. Meanwhile, Wendy takes to her new client, Lucas, masterminding a ludicrous anti-UBI campaign aimed to promote the tagline #WorkWillSetYouFree. Filled with characters bred in an environment “that values entertainment over accuracy,” Wilson’s observations are often sharp-witted, extracting humor from sources like video game addiction, cryptocurrency, and herd mentality. Wilson undercooks some of his attempts at crafting futuristic products (swag for immersive videogame Shamerica), yet as Michael and Wendy’s marriage fractures, the author carefully braids their individual narratives to a satisfying, if inevitable, crescendo. This feels all too real. Agent: Erin Harris, Folio Literary. (July)
Reviewed on : 04/14/2020
Release date: 06/09/2020
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 978-1-64129-286-3
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