2030: The Real Story of What Happens to America

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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 ...

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New York, NY 2011 Hard cover New in new dust jacket. Retail priced at $25.99. Purchase this copy for $16 discount. Glued binding. Cloth over boards. With dust jacket. 375 p. ... Audience: General/trade. The first novel from actor, writer, and director Brooks ("Lost in America")--set in the near future where a dramatically aging population combined with an unprecedented natural disaster leads to a nation so hamstrung by debt that the only way out is... Read more Show Less

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2030: The Real Story of What Happens to America

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Overview

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

From Barnes & Noble

Albert Brooks is a famous comedian and filmmaker, but his debut novel is no celebrity vanity project. In fact, his Twenty Thirty manages to situate its futurism in locales uncomfortably close to present-day realities. The good news for Americans of his 2030 is that cancer has been cured; the bad news is that increased longevity and spiraling health care costs are tilting the U.S. towards total collapse. When an earthquake levels Los Angeles, the Chinese make an offer almost impossible for the flailing government to refuse; meanwhile, young people have settled on their own solution to the impending mess: Kill all the old people. One you won't forget; now in trade paperback and NOOK Book.

Sessalee Hensley

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
Library Journal
Yes, that's actor/director Brooks, launching his fiction career with an unusually sober book. In the near future, cancer has been cured; old folks keep on living, and the younger generation resents being stuck with the bill. Then, on June 12, 2030, an earthquake all but obliterates Los Angeles, and the government is too stretched financially to respond. Tough questions; I'd look into this one.
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

  • ISBN-13: 9780312583729
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 5/10/2011
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 6.54 (w) x 9.32 (h) x 1.22 (d)

Meet the Author

Albert Brooks

Albert Brooks is a writer, actor, and director.  He has written and directed several classic American comedies that are considered prescient and incisive commentaries on contemporary life, including Lost In America, Modern Romance and Defending Your Life. Brooks has also acted in over twenty motion pictures for other directors, including Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver, Steven Soderbergh’s Out of Sight, Pixar’s Finding Nemo, and James L. Brooks’ Broadcast News, for which he received an Academy Award nomination.

 

 

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Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE
 
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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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 199 )
Rating Distribution

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(92)

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(47)

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(27)

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(17)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 200 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 24, 2011

    I connected with the younger generation of this book.

    I'm in my early 30's and have an above average job. I still send a check out every month for my student loans. I have paid thousands of dollars to medical loans because of the ridiculous cost of health care in this country. I don't own a home nor have any children. I don't feel like America is stable enough for my generation to really feel comfortable with settling down in one spot. I sat at the same desk and worked for 3 different companies from 2004 to 2011. I know there will be no retirement for my generation. I know nobody is going to start making the rich pay their fair share. I know corporations will continue to monopolize the market place. I know there are almost no outlets for true journalism (Amy Goodman and Democracy Now does the best she can). I know as long as the elected leaders put before me are a multiple choice test of preselected candidates nothing will change. Great book though.

    11 out of 21 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 27, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    It certainly makes you think and quite possibly lose sleep!

    2030 is science fiction but alarmingly plausible, entertaining and thought provoking. Brooks' story of what the U.S. will be like in the year 2030 is more terrifying than any monster movie, sociopath psycho murderer or doomsday portrayal out there. The major issues of the book are of the issues we face today, what ever-increasing life-spans and ever-increasing government deficits will inevitably do to our children and grandchildren in the next twenty years and bringing hopeful solutions. Good things too, cancer is a thing of the past, and no on gets fat. Most of the plot revolves around the growing stresses between generations, a tension that is intensified when the long-predicted major earthquake devastates Los Angeles, and the government realizes it could no longer borrow its way out of disaster. This is somewhat comical, but, sarcasm, political humor, and doom and gloom also present themselves. All told, I really enjoyed it! It certainly makes you think and quite possibly lose a little sleep.

    9 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 20, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Ho-Hum

    This is not a work of literature. The author (whose main credits are screenplays) writes with the economy of words one expects in a screenplay, and this work reads more like a book-length treatment than anything else. I expect to see fairly soon that it will be made into a film.

    Brooks' dystopian future is filled with gadgetry he describes in detail but which has little use in the story. Excepting the video-phones and the concept of retirement communities on cruise ships, there's entirely too much attention given to things. Had the author spend more time developing characters and locations, we might actually have a nice work of fiction here.

    Instead, we have an overloaded cast of characters, some of whom are invested with an entire story line and many of whom are ignored when the author no longer knows what to do with them.

    The basic story is this: The man who cured cancer gets into a shouting match with a young man (Max) who wants the older generation to understand how badly they're taxing their children. The failed encounter spurs Max to lead a small gang which briefly takes over a retirement community. Max and his gang are killed by a SEAL team, but not before about 15 retirees die in the process.

    The other story lines -- the Los Angeles earthquake, the rebuilding of LA by China and the ensuing partnership, the plans to put a foreign-born man into the White House as president, the current president's need for emotional intimacy that alienates his wife, etc., etc. -- aren't needed in their current, bloated form, to advance the basic story. Even the story of Kathy (who is saddled with debt after her father dies and who is briefly considered an accomplice of Max) would have been interesting had it been treated as something other than padding.

    Is it comic in places? Darkly so, and that wears thin in short order. Does it present a cautionary tale of the high price (financially and emotionally) of the USA taking on more debt? Perhaps, but it gets lost in the author's fascination with technological advances.

    Don't waste your time. This book isn't worth all of the hype that has gone into it.

    5 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 13, 2011

    Very Highly Recommended

    I was not familiar with this author but I love stories that take place in the future and simply fell in love with this book. The characters are great as are the ideas. What a pleasant surprise to find a new author that I like so much.

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 17, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    WOW! Right out of the gate Mr. Brooks writes a winner!

    I may have a significant bias for Mr. Brooks' works (I love every single film of his, and can only wait until Blu-Ray versions are released someday), so when I bought 2030 I fully expected to see some standard Brooksian takes on society. Does he deliver, and more! A prescient take on what America could be like in less than two decades, Albert Brooks takes the lives of about a dozen characters through their trials and tribulations of life - whether it's survivors of a world-changing earthquake in LA, a parent's death, an aspiring Bill Gates cum politician, or our first Jewish President. Each storyline is interesting in its own right, but how they tie together (and are tied together so well by the writer) is magnificent. I know we'll probably never see the book turned into a movie (as the writer as noted in an interview or two - especially when you consider the costs of producing a film with so much to tell), and I'm fine with that. Mr. Brooks has done such a great job in writing a thought-provoking, if not slightly scary, book that I am satisfied with the visuals I've created in my own mind. I'm just a little torn, though, regarding what could be next from Mr. Brooks. I would wish we'd see more films (in the line of Defending Your Life or Mother, his two best in my view) written/directed by the artist, but at the same time I would love another novel or two. For now, though, I can live in the satisfaction of using all waking moments in a single weekend to plow through 2030, coming away fully satisfied in my choice of reading material.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 23, 2011

    GREAT FICTION

    If you like fiction with a great imagination and great characters I can't think of a better read in the last few months. Really enjoyable. Thanks to Lori at Barnes and Noble for the recommendation.

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 22, 2011

    Couldnt put it down

    Read it at the gym, plane, at night... funny yet serious and thought provoking

    3 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 12, 2011

    Not very entertaining.

    Not very entertaining.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 5, 2011

    See what the future holds...

    Surprisingly good! What a great imagination. But I can really see a lot of that happening in the near future.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 16, 2011

    Funny And Scary

    If you like anything about Albert Brooks you will love love this book. He has always had one of the great imaginations and it is all here on the page. A MUST read.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 24, 2012

    good. Should have been longer.

    I hope there is a second book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 16, 2012

    Disappointing read

    Unrealalistic plot and pretty boring

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 27, 2012

    A great read

    America has sold it soul, and we didn't get much for it. This story tells us what happens when we look at the money instead of the people. The sad thing is that all of this has already happened.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 24, 2012

    Interesting concept

    Albert Brooks brought up ideas that are not too far off the radar. Good read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2011

    excellent read

    excellent projection of future based on current events

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2013

    I liked l I liked it very much i am surprised at all the negative reviews


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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 19, 2013

    Bad ending to what stgarted great

    So disappointing

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  • Posted June 17, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    First of all, the writing was poor. Sounds like a high schooler

    First of all, the writing was poor. Sounds like a high schooler wrote it. Second of all, it was a novel about health insurance. Really? UGH!!!!! Snoozefest! Don't waste your time reading this book! I wish i could get my money back and the time i took to read it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 10, 2013

    Idiocracy in print

    Sardonic

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  • Posted March 19, 2013

    AN IMAGINATIVE TALE.

    “And he resented that whatever he wound up doing, a portion of his earnings was always going to his grandfather and all the rest of them. 'He never even sent me a birthday present,’ Brian would say, ‘and now I have to pay for his wheelchair’.”—page 30

    Not half as dystopian as I’d anticipated, ‘2030: The Real Story of What Happens to America,’ by Albert Brooks, still does, because of its believable feasibility, add a pinch of despondency and despair to the mix of being old (or being young) in America. I remember a time when our mantra was: Never trust anyone over thirty. Since then that mantra has been turned on its head, and the generation gap has only grown wider.

    Perhaps there’s a young and bright hero on the horizon who might be able to at least loosen, if not untie, the Gordian knot of entitlements the past few generations has tied us in. Can we hope?

    Recommendation: Worth reading and thinking about.

    “If we don’t improve our youth’s chances for a better life, we will one day hand this country over to a generation that does not want it.”—page 282

    NOOKbook edition, 365 pages

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