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Agents of the Internet Apocalypse: A Novel (The Internet Apocalypse Trilogy) Hardcover – July 21, 2015
"Children of Blood and Bone"
Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut. Learn more
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“With his sharp wit and Googlesque knowledge of the Web, Gladstone lays bare the ways viral communication has become the infrastructure of our economic and cultural identity....At its core, Notes from the Internet Apocalypse is a love story...it will break your heart.” ―The Washington Post on Notes from the Internet Apocalypse
“The punchlines are pitch-perfect. Anyone who spends time sharing jokes in web communities will find this satire irresistible. ” ―Booklist on Notes from the Internet Apocalypse
“A belly-laugh account.” ―Toronto Star on Notes from the Internet Apocalypse
“An acid cultural satire that skewers what we would miss most about the online world.” ―Kirkus Reviews on Notes from the Internet Apocalypse
“An amusing but thoughtful look at what might happen to our culture if the World Wide Web went down for good.” ―FantasyLiterature.com on Notes from the Internet Apocalypse
“An oddly heartfelt journey through the wasteland of a techno-collapse. Gladstone takes an admittedly far-fetched and off-putting story idea and breathes startling life into it. He gambles here, but he wins. Give it a read.” ―Patton Oswalt on Notes from the Internet Apocalypse
“This is satire in its purest form: an exaggerated, filthy and ridiculous world - which happens to be exactly the world we live in. Gladstone has conceived and successfully executed a clever thought experiment that illustrates just how crazy the Internet has made all of us. Witty, profane and entertaining.” ―Charles Yu, author of How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, on Notes from the Internet Apocalypse
“Wayne Gladstone's satire is a high-concept page-turner brimming with LOL-worthy one-liners and observations about the web-addicted zombies we've become and the price we've paid for our sins. The best way to sum up the reading experience would be an emoticon that has yet to be invented.” ―Teddy Wayne, author of The Love Song of Jonny Valentine, on Notes from the Internet Apocalypse
“Gladstone's novel makes it clear that losing the Internet would indeed be apocalyptic, but it would also be funny, thrilling, and would perhaps be necessary to remind us of who we really are.” ―John Warner, Editor-at-Large of McSweeney's Internet Tendency and author of The Funny Man, on Notes from the Internet Apocalypse
“A story whose humor is matched by its insight into technology's effect on our relationships. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll beg your Internet provider to never leave you.” ―Frank Lesser, writer for The Colbert Report and author of Sad Monsters, on Notes from the Internet Apocalypse
“This book has the most unique premise of any book I have ever read. ... Agents Of The Internet Apocalypse is 250 pages of interesting. I can't wait for the third one.” ―Geeks of Doom
“With fewer jokes but still plenty of snark, this is required reading for fans of its predecessor. And until the final volume, all the disconnected Net junkies out there will be craving a fix.” ―Booklist on Agents of the Internet Apocalypse
About the Author
WAYNE GLADSTONE is a longtime columnist for Cracked.com and the author of Notes from the Internet Apocalypse. He is the creator and star of the Hate by Numbers online video series. His writing has appeared on McSweeney's Internet Tendency, Comedy Central's Indecision, and in the collections You Might Be a Zombie and Other Bad News and The McSweeney's Joke Book of Book Jokes. He lives in New York.
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The loss of the Web is a catalyst for a search: a search which aims to find more than a dedicated web server: the search for purpose, for validation, for love, to know that, as an individual whose voice grows fainter as the chorus of similar voices gets louder, Gladstone looks for this: as a means for self definition, to prove himself worthy of the love of Romaya, worthy of self-respect, worthy of the adoration bestowed upon him by his friends, worthy of the esteem he is granted by the Net Recovery Movement that has sprung up around him. It is this very human need, warm and breathing, and ultimately bleeding, that is the heart of this story: the loss of the net may have been the catalyst that pushed this story into the purview of those interested in its premise and promise of novelty, but it will remain relevant because of its exploration of truly universal, human impulses and what the search ultimately yields.
`This is a warmer story than the flyleaf may suggest: it is the eulogy for the loss of a worldwide friendship. The web isn’t just a mass of tangled wire, it is the mesh around that baby chick–that sometimes prick our fingers as we reach through to feel the beating, wounded heart of another person, to soothe, to look at them and say you matter, you mean something, and when you’re gone, we’ll remember you - and that’s what it’s about, reaching for love through this tangled mesh of wire, only to be pricked by that same screen, grabbing only air.
It is said that you only appreciate something properly when you’ve lost it, yet in this case Gladstone affords us this perspective without us having to suffer such disorienting pain first, conjuring remorse and empathy from thin air, intensifying our affections for our digital brethren, our electro-communities.
The love-letter to his Romaya may remain unread, but after the denouement, it feels as though that love letter is as much for every interested reader, every curious pair of eyes; it is less a post-steampunk techno-satire and more the first real tragedy of the digital world, a love letter to that world, with Gladstone saying that he’ll miss us, all of us wild and weird denizens of the world’s first electric culture and perhaps wondering if we’ll miss him too. Laughing feels like love, and we will miss this laughter and this love, long after the epilogue. We will miss the people, their cause, and their insecure Messiah, Gladstone. We all will. I will.
The novel begins with Gladstone in a mental hospital, and soon takes us to Los Angeles, where an investigation unfolds that both echoes and progresses from the investigation in New York. We find Tobey in his natural habitat, Romaya as a real person, and Gladstone finds himself on a different mission than the one he set out to complete. The coastal switch is one of many inversions from the first novel, and another is that this storytelling has gone from deliberately fuzzy and fractured to driven and structured, but still thoughtful, witty, and funny in all the right places. Modern social and political issues are examined through the satirical lens the Internet Apocalypse landscape fosters so well – sometimes overt and bold, sometimes so incredibly subtle that I feel certain there'll be more to discover on a dozenth read. It's clear from much of his work that Wayne Gladstone strives for the perfect balance between intellectual sophistication and irreverent silliness, and despite how incredibly difficult it is to pull that off, he has succeeded here.
When I say Gladstone's adventure is Quixotic, I don't mean in the sense of being synonymous with foolish (although there is certainly an element of that) – I mean in the literary sense, in the sense of all the things that make Don Quixote wonderful. How is it that we came to love the world's most misguided and ineffectual protagonist so fiercely? The same way it's so easy to love the protagonist of the Internet Apocalypse series. Even as he punctuates his observations of the post-Internet world with scathing criticisms of the people in it, Gladstone passionately believes in humanity and optimism and love, the way that Don Quixote believes in heroism and chivalry. Like he says in the novel, Gladstone believes in "pure things". And like Quixote, he will never stop fighting for those beliefs, no matter how many beatings he takes or defeats he suffers. Both authors share a flair for somehow making obnoxious irreverence into something subversive and endearing, as well as meaningful use of metafiction and exploration of the author-protagonist relationship.
Reading this novel, I found that every discovery Gladstone makes about himself, and observation he makes about the internet-addicted world, is a self-discovery for the reader, or at least uncomfortably familiar. It's no easy thing to hold a mirror up to the world in a way that makes us look and think rather than turn away in abjection; it's a fine line to walk, and Wayne Gladstone walks it masterfully.