- Paperback: 158 pages
- Publisher: Switchgrass Books; 1st edition (November 1, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0875806953
- ISBN-13: 978-0875806952
- Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.5 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 10 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,558,644 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Orphans Paperback – November 1, 2013
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In futuristic Chicago, now known as Baidu, all life is controlled by the corporation. Meeting on the street is strictly forbidden, the homeless are herded toward camps on the lakeshore, and many jobs are now being done by disturbingly lifelike androids, making paid positions scarce and often available only to the richest one-percent of the population. When Norrin Radd, former surfer and punk rocker turned husband and father, is offered a real estate position, he has little choice but to take it. But his new position means giving in to the corporate powers that be and spending months away from his family while selling land on Mars. Norrin is good at the job but struggles with the loss of personal freedom and the sacrifices it requires of his family. Patently satirical, Orphans is about the reality of responsibility and the limitations imposed on us in adulthood by a capitalist society. Tanzer’s setting and scenario owe much to George Orwell and Philip K. Dick, territory that sf fans might enjoy revisiting. --Cortney Ophoff
"For a novel involving flash mob protests, martian real estate deals, and robot hand jobs, Orphans is deeply affecting and terribly tender. This is 1984 by way of Tom Perrotta."
- Salvatore Pane, author of Last Call in the City of Bridges
―Joseph G. Peterson, author of Beautiful Piece, Inside the Whale: A Novel in Verse, and Wanted Elevator Man
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I would definitely recommend this book.
What truly struck me is the actual willingness of the protagonists of ORPHANS to actually adapt to the hideous reality they created with their bare hands and the gaps between their imperfection and the well-polished world they made. Ben Tanzer created something greater than he imagined with ORPHANS. It is one of the most relevant dystopias since 1984 and I am barely using hyperbole now. Quirky, dissonant and friendly of approach, ORPHANS will creep up on you and make you see dystopia for what it is : something not so distant.
Ben Tanzer's latest novel, Orphans, is a brilliantly conceived dystopian novel that explores and parses out with wonderful economy the many stranded conflicts of contemporary fatherhood, most notably: the conflict between the responsibilities of fatherhood and the yearning of the father to continue his own youthful pursuits surfing, chewing "SynthKat", and playing in a punk rock band; the conflict between wanting to be part of his own family (father/wife/son) and yet having to work a job that keeps him away from his family for long stretches at a time--in Norrin's case he flies off to Mars to sell real-estate while an analogous "Replacer" robot replaces him in the family unit; and the perpetual conflict of sexual freedom and temptation by others balanced by the demands of a monogamous relationship with his wife. In short it's a perfect Ben Tanzer novel--his seventh, I believe--and what's so good about this one is that Tanzer enfolds his contemporary themes of manhood and family into a brilliantly crafted futuristic world rife with unsettling ideas that explore among other things: the tensions between sexualized all knowing robots and humans; the emergence of the corporate state and the expansion of vast slums managed by the menace of amoral hovering black helicopters that ruthlessly slaughter the most indigent members of Baidu's (formerly known as Chicago) society.
I think it's also important to point out that Ben Tanzer has developed a writing style over the course of his novels that is rather quite unique. He is inspired as a writer by punk rock, most notably the Ramones, and also, I sense, by the work of David Mamet--particularly by plays like "Speed The Plow" and "Glengary Glen Ross". As a result: his novels are constructed of short chapters that are largely comprised of brilliant dialogue and they eschew long descriptive or meditative sections. The tone of his writing voice tends towards the upbeat and comic rather than the dire and the result is you want to compulsively speed-read Ben Tanzer. As soon as you finish one you want to pick up the next, and then the next. This book is a beautiful addition to the Tanzer opus, and I sense that it may really help him find the larger public his writing deserves.