Always Greener

J.R.H. Lawless. Uproar, $16.95 trade paper (292p) ISBN 978-1-949671-04-9
Lawless’s debut turns a satirical eye toward the voyeurism of reality television and the future of augmented reality. In 2072, television executives launch The Grass Is Greener, a reality show that provides 24/7 livestreaming access to the contestants’ daily struggles, which get progressively worse, each trying to prove that they have it worse off than their fellow participants. The execs tap Liam Argyle, a philosophy major turned weatherman, to host, propelling him into minor celebrity. Argyle slowly grows disillusioned with the show as he realizes that the unnamed “Editor” and other higher-ups are pulling strings to alter the reality of their reality show, but he fails to realize his own complicity in exploiting the contestants. Lawless offers tantalizing glimpses into the lives of the contestants and their televised hardships, but for the most part the plot remains narrowly focused on Argyle’s internal struggle, sapping the narrative of tension. Lawless’s wry tone, which includes etymological footnotes (e.g., “The term is the linguistic legacy of Franz Mesmer, 1734–1815, who conned the Paris elite into believing in an ‘animal magnetism fluid’ that could be used to impose one’s will an another”) , toes the line between amusing and pedantic. Despite a thought-provoking premise, this near-future novel flounders in its execution. Agent: Marisa Corvisiero, Corvisiero Literary Agency. (Feb.)
Reviewed on : 11/01/2019
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror
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