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Summary and book reviews of Qualityland by Marc-Uwe Kling

Qualityland

by Marc-Uwe Kling

Qualityland by Marc-Uwe Kling X
Qualityland by Marc-Uwe Kling
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  • Published:
    Jan 2020, 352 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs
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About this Book

Book Summary

What if the perfect world wasn't built for you?

Welcome to QualityLand, the best country on Earth. Here, a universal ranking system determines the social advantages and career opportunities of every member of society. An automated matchmaking service knows the best partners for everyone and helps with the break up when your ideal match (frequently) changes. And the foolproof algorithms of the biggest, most successful company in the world, TheShop, know what you want before you do and conveniently deliver to your doorstep before you even order it.

In QualityCity, Peter Jobless is a machine scrapper who can't quite bring himself to destroy the imperfect machines sent his way, and has become the unwitting leader of a band of robotic misfits hidden in his home and workplace. One day, Peter receives a product from TheShop that he absolutely, positively knows he does not want, and which he decides, at great personal cost, to return. The only problem: doing so means proving the perfect algorithm of TheShop wrong, calling into question the very foundations of QualityLand itself.

Qualityland, Marc-Uwe Kling's first book to be translated into English, is a brilliantly clever, illuminating satire in the tradition of Kurt Vonnegut, Douglas Adams, and George Orwell that offers a visionary, frightening, and all-too funny glimpse at a near future we may be hurtling toward faster than it's at all comfortable to admit. So why delay any longer? TheShop already knows you're going to love this book. You may as well head to the cash register, crack the covers, and see why that is for yourself.

CALLIOPE 7. 3

Peter is an only child, partly due to the fact that his parents have a virtual reality video of his birth. His mother once told him, "Every time I felt the urge to have another baby, your father just showed me the recording. It was a great cure."

The human memory is merciful. Technology is not. One day, even Peter watched the VR video of his birth, and it scarred him irreparably. It was also probably a mistake to have shared the video with Sandra.

If Peter and Sandra had been able to afford an optimized child, they would have called it Jacob. Sandra really wanted a boy. They had agreed on the forename. But the fact that the baby would have been called Jacob Used-Goods-Trader or, even worse, Jacob Scrap-Metal-Press-Operator had, most likely, been the main problem. Peter gets it. He wasn't that fond of his job either.

Four days after Sandra left him, he finds himself without much to do in his shop again. Peter's shop was one of those that people tend to walk by and ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Although Kling is German, his style of humor as it appears in Jamie Searle Romanelli's excellent English translation is right in line with British comedy sensibilities exhibited in the novels of Doug Adams, Terry Pratchett and Jasper Fforde (and a bit of Monty Python to boot). Humor is subjective, true, but I can almost guarantee that if you've enjoyed any of these works, you'll like Qualityland. Perhaps more to the point, Kling has the uncanny ability to analyze Western society's current political and technological trends and predict where their trajectories will lead...continued

Full Review (683 words).

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(Reviewed by Kim Kovacs).

Media Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
In addition to the pitch-black political satire, the novel's portrayal of economic inequality highlights a problem that wreaks havoc on our own lives. The characters aren't particularly likable and the narrative is a bit unhinged, but these days, a little comic relief might do us all some good.

Booklist
Kling's sharp observations target the economy, the law, xenophobia, relationships, security, and government, sparing few and exposing with delightful brutality how close QualityLand is to reality.

Publishers Weekly
[H]ilarious...Sharp and biting, the most implausible aspect of Kling's novel is the relative note of optimism that ends it. This is spot-on satire.

Author Blurb Kira Jane Buxton, author of Hollow Kingdom
Qualityland reads like the best Black Mirror episode as written by Kurt Vonnegut. Kling delivers scythe-sharp satire, steering us through a hysterical dystopian adventure of technological determinism, all while skewering consumer culture, politics, free will, and making me rethink my relationship with my Roomba. Witty, wise, and terrifyingly funny...a genius gem and an absolute must read. I laughed my phone off.

Author Blurb Robert Repino, author of D'Arc and Mort(e)
The times we live in demand a satire as sharp and unrelenting as Qualityland. The funniest parts will make you cringe. But rather than merely beat the reader over the head with doom and gloom, this novel goes further, showing the value of endurance and even hope in an age of emptiness.

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Beyond the Book

Predictions and Paradoxes: Famous Technology Theories

Marc-Uwe Kling's novel Qualityland, which is set in a European country in the near future, incorporates plot points based around human interactions with machines. Throughout the book, references are made to economic, technological and robotics theories that were developed in the 19th and 20th centuries as scientists began to speculate where technology would take humankind.

William JevonsThe Jevons Paradox was named after 19th-century economist William Jevons, who in 1865 noted that when it became less expensive and more efficient to use coal to produce energy, energy consumption actually went up rather than down. He speculated that improved efficiency leads to lower costs, which results in an increase in consumption. A more modern example is that as ...

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