Hol­ly­wood Baby­lon

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re­leased OUT NOW! 300 pages | Pa­per­back/ebook

Au­thor Michael Tolkin Pub­lisher Grove Press

los an­ge­les can be a bru­tal place at the best of times; a city where the gap be­tween the rich and poor con­tin­ues to grow ever wider, and where dreams of fame are more of­ten crushed than ful­filled. Now, imag­ine it af­ter the apoca­lypse...

North Korea re­leases a new chem­i­cal agent, NK3, tar­geted at their South­ern neigh­bours, where it proves far more ef­fec­tive than an­tic­i­pated. Soon, much of hu­man­ity is af­flicted with am­ne­sia – and not just of the “I don’t re­mem­ber my name” va­ri­ety. Even ba­sic sur­vival skills like re­mem­ber­ing to eat are wiped clean. Mil­lions die world­wide.

Four years later, Amer­i­can so­ci­ety has changed rad­i­cally. Los An­ge­les is run by those few who have re­gained some of their abil­ity to func­tion. Skilled sur­vivors have con­gre­gated be­hind the Fence – a wall that en­cir­cles the wealth­i­est parts of the city. Out­side the Fence, the re­main­ing “drifters” wan­der aim­lessly, spo­rad­i­cally in­cin­er­ated by the rul­ing class.

Michael Tolkin’s novel is both a har­row­ing fu­ture dystopia and an ex­treme satire on our present, where his­tory and facts can eas­ily be for­got­ten or erased, and where a small “elite” have the power of life and death over the masses (though there’s a neat flip in the so­cial hi­er­ar­chy here, with the likes of plumbers and sur­geons now in po­si­tions of power over the wealthy and use­less). It’s fre­quently ab­sur­dist (in one mem­o­rable scene Seth, a re­cent new re­cruit, is told that he will learn how to be­come a doc­tor – by sleep­ing in an op­er­at­ing the­atre), but it’s never far away from night­mare ter­ri­tory, with moral­ity long hav­ing been erased too, and vi­o­lence a rou­tine oc­cur­rence.

As with Tolkin’s best known work, the ex­co­ri­at­ing Hol­ly­wood satire The Player (both the novel and the film adap­ta­tion, for which he penned the screen­play), NK3 looks at a spe­cific cor­ner of mod­ern Amer­ica, and finds some­thing very rot­ten in­deed. Will Salmon

The novel is an ex­treme satire on our present

Tolkin was in­spired by Burn­ing Man, the an­nual festival in the Ne­vada desert – he has at­tended five of the last seven.

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