2030: The Real Story of What Happens to America
  • 2030: The Real Story of What Happens to America
  • 2030: The Real Story of What Happens to America

2030: The Real Story of What Happens to America

3.9 203
by Albert Brooks

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Is this what’s in store?

June 12, 2030 started out like any other day in memory—and by then, memories were long.  Since cancer had been cured fifteen years before, America’s population was aging rapidly.  That sounds like good news, but consider this: millions of baby boomers, with a big natural predator picked off, were sucking

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Is this what’s in store?

June 12, 2030 started out like any other day in memory—and by then, memories were long.  Since cancer had been cured fifteen years before, America’s population was aging rapidly.  That sounds like good news, but consider this: millions of baby boomers, with a big natural predator picked off, were sucking dry benefits and resources that were never meant to hold them into their eighties and beyond.  Young people around the country simmered with resentment toward “the olds” and anger at the treadmill they could never get off of just to maintain their parents’ entitlement programs.

But on that June 12th, everything changed: a massive earthquake devastated Los Angeles, and the government, always teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, was unable to respond. 

The fallout from the earthquake sets in motion a sweeping novel of ideas that pits national hope for the future against assurances from the past and is peopled by a memorable cast of refugees and billionaires, presidents and revolutionaries, all struggling to find their way.  In 2030, the author’s all-too-believable imagining of where today’s challenges could lead us tomorrow makes gripping and thought-provoking reading.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Comedian and filmmaker Brooks welcomes the reader to the year 2030 in his smart and surprisingly serious debut. Cancer has been cured, global warming is an acknowledged reality, people have robot companions, and the president is a Jew—and oy vey does he have his hands full with an earthquake-leveled Los Angeles and a growing movement by the young to exterminate the elderly. And when the Chinese offer to rebuild L.A. in exchange for a half-ownership stake in Southern California, President Bernstein is faced with a decision that will alter the future of America. Brooks's sweeping narrative encompasses a diverse cast of characters, including an 80-year-old Angelino left homeless by the earthquake, a trust fund brat with a grudge against the elderly, and a teenage girl saddled with debt after her father's death, all of whom get brought together just in time for a climactic hostage crisis. Brooks's mordant vision encompasses the future of politics, medicine, entertainment, and daily living, resulting in a novel as entertaining as it is thought provoking, like something from the imagination of a borscht belt H.G. Wells (May)
Library Journal
Well known for his film and television work (e.g., Broadcast News), comedian, actor, and director Brooks has written a first novel, a futuristic story about America in the year 2030. Like many debuts, it has its share of weaknesses, mostly in terms of character development and plotting. Nonetheless, there is much here to engage readers. What is most stimulating is the future Brooks has imagined for America: cancer has been cured, and technology has extended life expectancy in miraculous ways, but America is hopelessly in debt, beset with the ravages of global warming, and dominated politically by AARP and a massive senior population. Bleak economic prospects have turned young people against "the olds" and have inspired acts of domestic terrorism. Some of this is predictable, of course, given current conditions in the United States, but Brooks has built in enough twists and surprises here to keep things interesting. VERDICT Despite some flaws, this is an intriguing vision of America's future. Recommended for fans of futuristic dystopian fiction. [See Prepub Alert, 11/8/10.]—Patrick Sullivan, Manchester Community Coll., CT
Kirkus Reviews

Actor Albert Brooks has fun imagining a world in the future—though not too far in the future to be wholly implausible.

Crises abound in 2030, ranging from a failed health-care system to massive national debt ($3 trillion dollars just to pay the interest) to a major earthquake that levels Los Angeles. Even seemingly good things have downsides. Dr. Sam Mueller, for example, discovered a cure for cancer, but that led to greater longevity amongst the "olds" (i.e., those over 70), and now the younger generation is resentful that they have to spend considerable sums taking care of the elderly. In fact, there have been numerous terrorist attacks against the olds. Resentment simmers, especially in Max Leonard, a terrorist manqué who winds up hijacking theSunset, a ship carrying seniors from port to port, an event that electrifies the 100 million members of the AARP. The L.A. earthquake requires such massive infusions of money that the federal government (headed by Matt Bernstein, the first Jewish president) enters into partnership with China, a country that knows how to rebuild fast and efficiently. Shen Li, the leader of this reconstruction effort, becomes so popular that an influential senator (and Shen Li's father-in-law) works to amend the Constitution to allow Li to become president (after Bernstein's marriage fails and it's clear he won't get another term).

The tone is satiric, something Brooks usually does with a light touch, though occasionally he loses the playfulness and shows too heavy a hand.

Janet Maslin
With 2030 Mr. Brooks has made the nervy move of transposing his worrywart sensibility from film to book. Two things are immediately apparent about his debut novel: that it's as purposeful as it is funny, and that Mr. Brooks has immersed himself deeply in its creation. 2030 is an extrapolation of present-day America into the not-so-distant future, and it is informed by the author's surprisingly serious attention to reality. Unlike the fantasy writer who foresees a gee-whiz future full of alluring gimmicks, Mr. Brooks has dreamed up escapism about problems we cannot escape.
—The New York Times
From the Publisher
"This is an intriguing vision of America's future. Recommended for fans of futuristic dystopian fiction." —Library Journal

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Product Details

St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.54(w) x 9.32(h) x 1.22(d)

Read an Excerpt



It was a normal day, or so it seemed. Actually, nothing in 2030 seemed normal, not to Brad Miller anyway. Brad was surprised at how many people showed up for his eightieth birthday. Surprised because he had these friends in the first place and surprised at how healthy they all were. This was not what people in their eighties were supposed to look like. Sure, the lifts helped, along with the tucks and the hair and the new weight-loss drug, which, while only seven years on the market, had become the biggest-selling drug in the history of the world. That’s what happens when a chemical works almost one hundred percent of the time, in everyone. But still, Brad thought, these folks look good.

And they did. They were thin, healthy, all looking better than their parents were at forty. The only thing missing were younger people. Brad couldn’t remember the last time he’d seen a young person at his birthday. Other than his son, whom he never talked to anyway, he didn’t even know anyone under fifty. Nor did any of his friends. There was just too much resentment and too much fear.

As the lights dimmed, the customary “life” movie played in the middle of the room, holographic style. People were getting tired of these. It was one thing to watch home movies of someone else; it was another to feel like you were in them. It was like boredom squared. But people watched; they laughed and told Brad how much fun it was to see him “age.” He, like many of them, actually looked better now than he had ten years ago. But it was funny. Where once that was a compliment relating to how you lived your life, whether you ate well or exercised enough or got a good night’s sleep, now it was just about what you could afford. And once cancer had been cured, the youth business went crazy.

Most people in that room were only in their twenties when Richard Nixon declared a war on cancer. Like all the wars going on at the time, this one seemed to have little success. The progress was so slow. Still, people held out hope that when they got older there would be a cure for what ailed them. But when the year 2000 rolled in, there they were: bald, fat, and ugly. And there was still cancer.

But everyone in that room, probably everyone in the world, remembered where they were when they heard the news. Oh, there had been so many hopeful stories over the years. So many false starts. So many mice that were cured, but when the human trials started, people dropped dead of all kinds of things that had never bothered a mouse. But then it happened. And like all of the greatest discoveries, from Newton to Einstein, Dr. Sam Mueller’s cure was so exquisitely simple.

*   *   *

Dr. Mueller was no genius. He grew up fairly normal, in Addison, Illinois. A big night out was going to Chicago for pizza. After graduating Rush Medical College, Sam Mueller interned at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center and then, realizing that making a living as an internist was going to be tough at best, he started looking elsewhere. He thought of concierge medicine, which was all the rage, but decided to take a fairly lucrative position at Pfizer. He figured he would do that for a while and then something would unfold. Oh my, did it unfold.

Mueller had always been interested in the immune system. So much in medicine was pointing to the body’s own defenses as a cure-all, but the success rates were modest at best. He was assigned various projects at Pfizer. Some were interesting, some he hated. He never understood the Viagra-for-women thing. Every woman he ever knew could go all night, have a bowl of cereal, and go for another afternoon, but he worked on it anyway, and when it happened it was huge.

The team got big-time bonuses and raises and all kinds of rewards. They were even sent to Hawaii, where Sam Mueller met his wife. She wasn’t Hawaiian, she was an assistant on the project whom he had never really gotten to know, but then one night on Kauai they both got drunk, walked on the beach, watched the most beautiful sunset in the world, and fell madly in love.

Maggie was a great companion for Sam. Smart, easygoing, and very supportive. He could talk to her about his ideas and she would not only listen but also encourage him. The idea she liked most was an interesting one. Something about using a person’s own blood to attack cancer cells. Sam was convinced that if a person’s blood was combined with someone else’s blood that wasn’t compatible, if the combination of the two was just right, one person’s blood cells would fight not only the other blood cells but the foreign bodies in their system as well, including the cancer. But the real break came when Pfizer merged with a Swiss firm and Sam was let go. Thank God he never told anyone there about what he was working on or they would have owned it.

With Maggie’s help, Sam Mueller raised three hundred thousand dollars, took on a partner, and started Immunicate. His blood idea was in the right direction but it didn’t work properly; it knocked out cancer cells but attacked the other organs, too, and the body’s immune system went into overdrive, killing everything. Something had to be done to make the blood combination work against the disease without working against the rest of the body. The answer turned out to be common amino acids.

Sam and his partner, Ben Wasser, spent an entire year injecting the blood with different aminos. With the help of computers they tried millions of combinations. There were so many months where they felt it was not going to work. And then on the night of June 30, 2014, they put together alanine, isoleucine, proline, and tryptophan. Four common amino acids that had never been combined before, certainly not in this precise measurement.

Two years later, over ninety-four percent of the participants in the human trials were cancer-free. There were still rare cancers that did not respond, but all the big ones were knocked out, and the success was so overwhelming that trials were stopped early and the drug was available to the general population by the spring of 2016.


Copyright © 2011 by Albert Brooks

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