The Unincorporated Man
by Dani Kollin & Eytan Kollin
Edited by David G. Hartwell
Review by Andrew Brooks
Tor Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765318992
Date: 17 March 2009 List Price $25.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Listen, times are tough. But the future as imagined by the brothers Kollin in The Unincorporated Man redefines personal financial responsibility. Set in a future America where the government has just about been wholly privatized, Unincorporated posits what it would be like where people are incorporated from birth. Your stocks up, your stocks down, takes on a whale of a different meaning in this book. In this economy it's not about how much stock you own of others, but of how much stock in your portfolio consists of self. It's all about achieving majority.
Into this world awakens Justin Cord, a wealthy businessman who had himself suspended in the early 21st century in the hopes that one day the technology would exist to cure him of cancer. The future into which he emerges, through the use of nanotechnology, is able to achieve this. But there's other problems for the world's only unincorporated man. Everyone wants a piece, and while they know all the rules, Justin is clueless on how to keep himself as private property.
The book follows Cord as he navigates through a future that still has its similarities to our own time, and while the main plot is interesting, the real joy in The Unincorporated Man is its ideas. The economic ideas alone are worth cracking this one open, and of course, as in any good science fiction novel, there is the technology. I can't say that any of it is really earth-shattering or completely original, but the advances here make sense and honestly seem within the grasp of the not too distant future. From the DijAssist to suborbital travel, the Kollin brothers have come up with some plausibly fascinating technology.
The Kollins main strength here, in truth, is their ability to create a fascinating world. Not that the plot isn't engaging, it's just that there is so much going on in their world that the plot became secondary to me at times. At the beginning of the novel, I found it a horrifying prospect to think the populace in this novel accepted so readily being incorporated from birth. But as the novel goes on, and more and more of their imagined future is revealed, the Kollin brothers steadily convinced me that such a thing could work. Anyone with a mortgage or various other debts may already feel "incorporated."
The Unincorporated Man is an excellent novel with a sturdy plot and enough future world building to satisfy any science fiction fan. I highly recommend this book and look forward to their future works.