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The Age of the Conglomerates: A Novel of the Future Paperback – August 19, 2008
Now that they are in power, there are no more checks and balances. The Conglomerates, and their mysterious party chairman, have taken over everything and everyone. There is no one left to stop them.
Forty years in the future, in a world where Big Brother runs amok, a powerful political party known as the Conglomerates has emerged, vowing to enforce economic martial law at any cost. Dr. Christine Salter, director of genetic development at a New York medical center, is in charge of "genetic contouring," the much-in-demand science of producing the ideal child. But Christine is increasingly troubled by odd events, including the strange disappearance of Gabriel Cruz, a co-worker for whom she has a developing affection, and the fact that her latest assignmentmaking the Conglomerate chairman more youthful through genetic engineeringis an especially dangerous task.
As mandated by the Family Relief Act, Christines grandparents are relocated to a government-designed community in the American Southwest, along with other Coots (the official term given to the elderly), who are considered an economic and social burden to family and society. But even in this cold, cruel age, the Conglomerates can only control so much.
In his enthralling debut, Thomas Nevins thrillingly chronicles a brave new world where one family struggles to survive by keeping alive feelings of mercy, loyalty, and love.
Amazon Exclusive: Thomas Nevins Introduces The Age of the Conglomerates
Q: What could be relevant about a novel of the future?
A: Tomorrow is based on today. Take me, for example. Im in the middle of life (I hope!), and in the in between generation. We have our parents to care for, and our children too.
But, this is a novel, with people, with hearts and minds, who like to be with one another, and hopefully, readers will too. The Age of the Conglomerates is a story about a family. They live in a world we have left them, a civilization administered by the private sector, where the Conglomerate party mega markets their message, and those who dont buy into it, or fit, are shown the exit. I based two of the characters, Patsy and George, on my parents and the struggle they had when they became elderly, and a love that often healed them. I live and work with a lot of very talented and terrific young people and I wanted them to know that there are some of us who are thinking about them and want them to have a great future. And I wanted a chance to fulfill a dream and write a book, one that had a place, had merit, and is fun and a quick read. I hope youll give it a try.
From Publishers Weekly
Nevins's debut reads like the novelization of a film adaptation of a Philip K. Dick novel. It's 2048, and the U.S. government is run by the Conglomerates, a political party controlled by the chairman, whose regime has transformed the demographics of the country: Coots, or those over 80, have been relocated to retirement communities, while problematic youth, or Dyscards, live in city subways. Christine Salter is the director of genetic development at the New York Medical Center, where she helps people create, or re-create their children and themselves through genetic manipulation. When her best employee and potential love interest disappears after being suspected of subversive activities, Christine cozies up with the chairman in order to find out what has happened to him. Meanwhile, her grandparents are deported to Cootsland, and Christine's estranged sister becomes a Dyscard. As Christine uncovers a sinister plot, she abruptly reconsiders the moral implications of her work and puts her own life at risk to save those whom society has forsaken. Readers willing to pardon the oversimplification of good versus evil may enjoy the slick presentation and Hollywood-like setup. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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I enjoyed this book, a quick read with a lot of ideas. The only flaw was that the characters could have used a bit more fleshing out. It was difficult to understand some of the longterm motivation of some of the characters. And it wasn't quite believable that large numbers of people would toss their parents or children so heartlessly. Still, having said that, it did make me think a bit about the social issues mentioned.
One other quibble? I thought the end involved a rather glaring deus ex machina. But I don't want to spoil it by saying too much here. I will watch for other novels by the author, and look forward to seeing him grow in literary confidence.
I enjoyed the book and read it in one sitting. That having been said I would consider this a deeply flawed work.
The pacing is massively uneven, to the point where it is jarring. In some sections plot and character development proceed at a reasonable rate then, all of the sudden, major plot developments just "bing!" appear. At one point the disconnect was so pronounced that I leafed back through a few pages just to make sure I hadn't skipped any.
The work would have benefited greatly from 50 or so more pages. The ending is rushed almost to the point of becoming a summary.
I hope there is a second book, and I hope the writer gets better.
Civilization is far too nuanced to be simply rewritten in a couple introductory pages. The seeds of some fine writing are present in this book but the attention to detail was lacking. Fine science fiction has a depth--you can pierce the surface and find an infinite wealth of detail; likewise in the fantasy genre. The worlds created by J.R.R. Tolkien and Frank Herbert are fantastic and strange but consistent. Age of the Conglomerates was just not consistent; like episodic television, it placed its characters, stated its plot and ground to the inevitable conclusion.
Our author had the admirable goal of showing the importance of family ties, of demonstrating the dangers of profligate government, he warns of the real consequences of placing immediate concerns above regard for the future. He has much to say about the potential dangers of genetic science and the fragility of our economy--but this story did his worthy ideas a disservice.
The construction is awkward (the exposition at the start removes any sense of mystery), the characters flat (heroes and villains go through their paces by rote) and the plotting confused (a character who supposedly has Alzheimer's and can barely function also has a perfectly coherent discussion with her daughter). The premise - that corporations take over the country (indirectly) and banish Boomers to Arizona and troubled kids to nowhere - also makes little sense, as it's hard to imagine people ruthlessly exiling their parents and children without a hint of remorse.
In short, "The Age of Conglomerates" is not worth buying, or even worth checking out of the library - and more important, it casts into question the entire process of how some books are chosen to be published, and others aren't.