Book Review – Dyscountopia by Niccolo Grovinci
Albert Zim is a first line supervisor in one department of one section of the world-spanning Omega-Mart, which has improved the lives of everyone by providing great bargains — and everyone knows it. One day while attending a company motivational meeting, he finds himself raising his hand and asking a question.
“Since our customers are what’s most important, and our customers are also our employees, and our employees are part of our family, couldn’t we help them out every once in awhile? Like with emergencies or whatever? Couldn’t we pay to have someone’s teeth fixed?”
And this question dooms him. How can Omega-Mart continue to offer low prices if they provide something like health care to their employees? The very idea marks poor Albert as disloyal, subversive, a traitor to the very ideals of Omega-Mart. It also gets him fired — straight off the planet.
This is a well-written satire of consumerism, corporate power, and groupthink. It is humorous because it exaggerates the truth to point out how absurd some of the things we do and believe really are. It is also a cautionary tale that reminds us that things don’t need to be this way.
I enjoyed the book, but at 50,000 words, it is only about half the length of a typical novel. One part, I thought, should have been expanded. The whole visit to another planet thing makes little sense as it is written now. Yes, I know. This is a humorous satire and sense has little to do with it, but this one part required suspension of more disbelief than I personally could achieve comfortably, even for the sake of a good story. I was willing to go along with Albert being fired off the planet in a small room. I could accept that he entered a mysterious space-time rift that brought him to another planet, but even if his little escape pod could survive entry and landing, there is no way the technologically primitive people he finds there could launch it back into space. His experience could not be a hallucination because he was gone a year. A bit more about the aliens and better techno-babble for how he got there and, more importantly, how he got back was needed.
I suspect that Niccolo Grovinci is a pseudonym, but as for the author’s real name, I have no idea. From the writing, I assume the author is over 40, male, and American, but these are just guesses. This is a fun book regardless of who the author is. I would recommend it to readers who like cultural satire.