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The Unincorporated Man

Posted by Shawn Boyles On Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I found this book in the most unusual way. I went to the bookstore and saw it on the shelf. I know, weird right? I didn’t see it on some blog, or see it in some random post from another site. It wasn’t recommended to me by a friend or any of that. Nope, I was just at Barnes & Noble one day and thought I would check out what was new and what looked interesting--and there it was, calling to me. I then did the only sensible thing and I went home and ordered it off of Amazon.

I’m glad I did.

THE UNINCORPORATED MAN has a very simple premise that hooked me immediately. A man with a deadly disease is frozen in a cryogenic chamber hoping to be thawed out in a time when technology will save him (kind of sounds like Futurama in a way doesn’t it?). The man, Justin Chord, is forgotten for hundreds of years and is then awakened to a world similar to his own but different in many respects. The main difference that the book illustrates is the concept of personal incorporation.

Upon birth any individual born gives 20% of shares in themselves, to their parents. While they grow up, various shares are traded away for things like schooling and the government. As the individual starts to work, the dream they all share is to one day own enough shares in themselves to become a majority shareholder--thus taking control of all of their own decisions.

Justin Chord is thrown into this world as a person who owns 100% of his own personal stock--a thing unheard of. His very appearance shakes the foundations of this society and the book deals with the implications of his arrival.

The book actually reads very similar to the first half of STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND by Robert Heinlein (which is pretty high praise indeed). Justin wanders into a strange land and meets various people who want to either help him or incorporate him into the system, an idea Justin equates with slavery. The read is nice and smooth and I liked the fact that we were seeing this future landscape through the eyes of a person from our time. It didn’t feel odd for Justin to look around the world and wonder at the marvels the future holds and I was able to marvel with him.

That being said I wish the future was a bit stranger than it was. It felt to me like the future as seen from 1960. Flying cars and homes that mold to your liking and things like that. It didn’t feel like something new. The idea of self incorporation was new, but everything else felt like the here and now, only slightly advanced. I’d like to think that in 300 years we will have done something new and unexpected and that’s what I wanted to see.

It’s a small complaint really. The book was fun to read and I eagerly picked up the sequel (review coming soon). The characters were fun and interesting, but it was mostly the world itself, the idea of self incorporation, that kept me going. If you liked STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND or INFOQUAKE then you should enjoy this.

Recommended Age: 14+ Nothing too over the top here
Language: Not a lot but there is some
Violence: Almost none
Sex: One graphic scene that is over fairly quickly, and a fair bit of innuendo


Want to give this novel a shot? Here are the links to the various books in this series, in order:

1 - THE UNINCORPORATED MAN

2 - THE UNINCORPORATED WAR

3 - THE UNINCORPORATED WOMAN

2 comments

  1. Heh. This book was solidly mediocre (I'd give it three out of five stars), largely because it had some good ideas and some poor writing. However, it was solid enough for me to want to know what happens next.

    Your review says it has no graphic sex scenes, and this is incorrect. There is one, and it is both graphic and laughably bad. The authors say in their acknowledgments that the sex scene used to be even more laughable but their beta readers helped them fix it. I would have hated to see it before. Thankfully what we do see is blessedly short.

    The book reads as if it were written by first-time authors who know nothing about point of view, jumping from head to head indiscriminately, and then an editor got to it and tried to edit it into third-person limited by sticking in some scene breaks when the POV changes, but only doing a half-baked job. Many scenes remain that switch POVs two or three times without a scene break.

    You already mentioned the stuff about it being the future as seen from the 1960s, so I won't comment about that. One sequence I did find particularly effective was the part about why virtual reality is anathema to that culture. They hit the reader over the head with it, but for me it worked.

    Ultimately the book was a success for me, in spite of the poor writing, because they pulled off the ending.

    Posted on April 19, 2011 at 11:08 AM

     
  2. Thanks for the catch on the sex scene, Peter. I've updated the review accordingly.

    Posted on April 19, 2011 at 11:21 AM

     

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