by Marc-Uwe Kling


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In the near future sci-fi world of Qualityland, algorithms help create an idyllic life for its citizens, but what if the perfect world wasn't built for you?

Welcome to QualityLand, the best country on Earth. Here, a universal ranking system determines the social advantages and career opportunities of every member of society. An automated matchmaking service knows the best partners for everyone and helps with the break up when your ideal match (frequently) changes. And the foolproof algorithms of the biggest, most successful company in the world, TheShop, know what you want before you do and conveniently deliver to your doorstep before you even order it.

In QualityCity, Peter Jobless is a machine scrapper who can't quite bring himself to destroy the imperfect machines sent his way, and has become the unwitting leader of a band of robotic misfits hidden in his home and workplace. One day, Peter receives a product from TheShop that he absolutely, positively knows he does not want, and which he decides, at great personal cost, to return. The only problem: doing so means proving the perfect algorithm of TheShop wrong, calling into question the very foundations of QualityLand itself.

Qualityland, Marc-Uwe Kling's first book to be translated into English, is a brilliantly clever, illuminating satire in the tradition of Kurt Vonnegut, Douglas Adams, and George Orwell that offers a visionary, frightening, and all-too funny glimpse at a near future we may be hurtling toward faster than it's at all comfortable to admit. So why delay any longer? TheShop already knows you're going to love this book. You may as well head to the cash register, crack the covers, and see why that is for yourself.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly


The latest from Kling (The Kangaroo Chronicles), already in production at HBO, is a hilarious romp through an absurd hypercapitalist dystopia. After the third “crisis of the century” in a decade, a country is renamed QualityLand. There, each person is named after their parents’ professions, has a social media feed specially created by a corporation, and is assigned a level from 1 to 100, which dictates what partner someone can match with, what job someone can have, and so on. Peter Jobless is a low-level metal recycling scrapper who, one day, receives a delivery from TheShop that he didn’t order—not unusual in itself, as TheShop anticipates all desires (its motto is “We know what you want”)—but more importantly, that he doesn’t want. Aided by the defective robots living under his shop that he saved from the scrapper, Peter embarks on a journey to return his unwanted delivery. Peter’s quest unfolds against the backdrop of a presidential election, where voters can choose between a maximally intelligent, socialist-minded robot programmed for objectivity, and a celebrity right-wing chef, prone to contradicting himself in the same sentence. No need to guess who’s leading the polls. Sharp and biting, the most implausible aspect of Kling’s novel is the relative note of optimism that ends it. This is spot-on satire. (Jan.)

From the Publisher

"QUALITYLAND is very funny and very scary — my kind of book."—Mike Judge, creator of HBO's Silicon Valley, writer/director of Office Space

"Eerily prescient and peppered with near-future projections (including the cryogenic resurrection of Jennifer Aniston), Qualityland reads like the best Black Mirror episode as written by Kurt Vonnegut. Kling delivers scythe-sharp satire, steering us through a hysterical dystopian adventure of technological determinism, all while skewering consumer culture, politics, free will, and making me rethink my relationship with my Roomba. Witty, wise, and terrifyingly funny, Qualityland is a genius gem and an absolute must read. I laughed my phone off."—p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 11.0px Helvetica}span.s1 {font-kerning: none}Kira Jane Buxton, author of Hollow Kingdom

"Kling's dialogue is witty and sharp, the relationship between Peter and the droids is handled with a great deal of humour and warmth, and more often than not Kling lands his jokes—Qualityland is incredibly funny—a rare feat for a science fiction novel."—p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px 'Times New Roman'}Locus

"A hilarious romp through an absurd hypercapitalist dystopia...This is spot-on satire."—Publishers Weekly

"QUALITYLAND is the best kind of satire, offering up a funhouse mirror version of our world that is so smart and so cutting, you have to laugh to keep from crying."—Rob Hart, author of The Warehouse

"The times we live in demand a satire as sharp and unrelenting as QUALITYLAND. The funniest parts will make you cringe. But rather than merely beat the reader over the head with doom and gloom, this novel goes further, showing the value of endurance and even hope in an age of emptiness."—p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px 'Times New Roman'}Robert Repino, author of D'Arc and Mort(e)

"How much you enjoy this is in direct proportion to how much trouble you think we're all in. Sleep tight."—Kirkus

"Kling's sharp observations target the economy, the law, xenophobia, relationships, security, and government, sparing few and exposing with delightful brutality how close QualityLand is to reality."—Booklist

"The plot unfolds in a way that surprises, which is quite refreshing when dealing with storylines which create a cautionary tale about corporate overreach."—p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px 'Times New Roman'}The Nerd Daily

Kirkus Reviews

An outcast in a supposedly utopian future tries to figure out what's wrong with the world and how to fix it. Join the club.

Well, sure, why not? Kling, the author of a bunch of texts about living with a kangaroo that got translated into a podcast and then turned into three books (all in German, so Google Translate is your friend), enters mainstream author mode with this bitter satire of consumer culture and the modern political sphere. In this kind of book, there's typically an ordinary guy to represent us, the reader—think Arthur Dent as opposed to Ford Prefect in The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Our main guy here is Peter Jobless, although the point of view bounces around all over the place. Welcome to QualityLand, where everything, from your stuff to your love life, has been optimized for you by algorithm. If you couldn't tell from his moniker, Peter is a bit of a screw-up, just coming off a long-term relationship with Sandra Admin, who's happily dumped him based on the admonishment of QualityLand's dating service, QualityPartner, which matched them up automatically in the first place. Black humor abounds: There's John of Us, the political candidate who happens to be an android, and TheShop, which essentially serves as the company store for the world. The interstitial bits—news bulletins, guidebook entries, and the inevitable comments section—are particularly funny and give context to QualityLand's odd rules and tics. Despite the novel's comic approach, the nature of the narrative is heavily political, holding up a black mirror to our own troubled times. In addition to the pitch-black political satire, the novel's portrayal of economic inequality highlights a problem that wreaks havoc on our own lives. The characters aren't particularly likable and the narrative is a bit unhinged, but these days, a little comic relief might do us all some good.

How much you enjoy this is in direct proportion to how much trouble you think we're all in. Sleep tight.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781538732960
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication date: 01/07/2020
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 144,469
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.40(d)

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