cover image LoveStar


Andri Snær Magnason, trans. from the Icelandic by Victoria Cribb. Seven Stories, $16.95 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-1-60980-426-8

In this outlandish yet poignant dystopian allegory, Magnason (Dreamland: A Self-Help Manual for a Frightened Nation) imagines a post-technological world in which the relationship between people and information is turned on its head. “Cordless” citizens are freed from gadgets and wires while REGRET, something like a retroactive Magic 8 Ball if envisioned by Vonnegut, renders every choice the right one. Louts hoping to pay down debt become “ad howlers,” “AdTraps,” and “Secret Hosts”—human bullhorns spouting targeted advertisements or post-purchase praise (“YOU WERE UNBELIEVABLY COOL TO BUY SUCH GROOVY SHOES!”) to pedestrians. At funerals run by LoveDeath, bodies are launched into space and mourners watch their loved ones “burn up under the heavenly plough” upon re-entry. At the helm of this carefully monitored and controlled society is LoveStar, a God-like old man with three hours left to live and a mission to “free people from the oppression of freedom.” Then there’s Indridi and Sigrid, who want to stick together despite inLOVE’s calculation of Sigrid as better matched with a Danish man. Orwell, Vonnegut, and Douglas Adams are felt on every page, though Magnason is never derivative. His satire and insightful social commentary sweeten the pot and the sheer wackiness of Magnason’s oversized imagination is invigorating. (Nov.)