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Set in a not-so-distant future, when the United States has declared war on Australia as a result of a mysterious explosion known as The Horribleness, Knipfel's mordant and funny latest charts a year in the life of Wally Philco, a New York City insurance company employee who, fed up with a nosy neighbor, the Stroller Brigade of militant mothers, the advertisements beamed into his brain and government snoops, begins disabling the many devices that monitor him. His unplugging results in his being recruited by the Unpluggers, a group of revolutionaries camped out in an abandoned section of the subway system. As he learns more about the group and its plans to strike back at the totalitarian state, he becomes the group's unwitting figurehead. Though the novel sometimes falls victim to less than refined humor (citizens must carry, for instance, SUCKIE identity cards), the twisty plot (including a surprising turn at the end) combined with Knipfel's sharp wit and dark vision add much satirical sparkle to this dystopian romp. (Apr.)
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The running joke: just wait until they put chips in our heads. Always up for satirical mischief, cult-favorite Knipfel uses this vision of diabolical digital infiltration as the template for a zesty dystopian tale. Mild-mannered Wally Philco tries to be a Good Citizen. He has the requisite chip implants. He works diligently in his cubicle. He puts up with countless surveillance vids, aggressive ad screens, the continual babble force-fed through his Earwig, and television-on-steroids. But he has had it with the vicious Stroller Brigade and their bratty offspring named Amex and Google, his mean wife, the toxic synthetic food, the “ratter” neighbor, the drug tests, and the constant fear of being accused of the crime of “Unmutualism.” Riffing mordantly on 1984, post-9/11 propaganda, mindless consumerism, and techno-addiction, Knipfel gleefully salts Wally’s breakneck adventures with caustically naughty acronyms and wistful romance. As he imagines an unplugged underworld and an all-seeing, all-powerful corporate empire, Knipfel forges a grimly funny condemnation of digital tyranny and the sacrifice of rights and privacy for the pipe dreams called convenience and security. --Donna SeamanSee all Editorial Reviews