SFF

Zed

Doubleday. Jan. 2020. 352p. ISBN 9780385545471. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9780385545488. SF
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In a not-too-distant future, the Beetle Corporation has monopolized the UK’s information and communication infrastructure. Networked devices (Beetlebands) and virtual personal assistants (Veeps) lead people through their days. The corporation controls currency (Beetlebits), automated drivers (Viads), and even language (Bespoke). A journalist, desperate to stay on the good side of his publisher (Beetle Corp.), nevertheless follows the trail of Zed, a series of anomalies and unpredicted violent behavior. Zed seems to be behind the fatal overreactions of corporate droids. Veeps are insolent and unhelpful. Cars are refusing to drive. Doors are refusing to open. Will Zed be the savior, or the end of a perfectly ordered system that has run off its rails?
VERDICT Kavenna (The Birth of Love), winner of the Orange Award and Granta Best of Young British Novelists, brings wit and moments of levity to this portentously dark look at a society ruled by corporate technology. [See Prepub Alert, 7/15/2019.]

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