Nathaniel Rich in conversation with Robin Sloan
Tuesday, May 7, 2013, 7:00 P.M., City Lights Bookstore, San Francisco
Odds Against Tomorrow
from Farrar, Straus, & Giroux
Climate change, catastrophe prediction, digital information technology, dystopian insurance schemes, and dreams of the mathematically perfect bagel: in their recent novels, Nathaniel Rich and Robin Sloan have both explored the wonder and terror of the future. Both have been hailed as prescient fiction writers. But what does that mean? On May 7, Nathaniel Rich reads from ODDS AGAINST TOMORROW and sits down with MR. PENUMBRA'S 24-HOUR BOOKSTORE author Robin Sloan for a conversation about fiction’s role in interpreting the future—and the duties of novelists in an age where science and technology offer unprecedented promise and peril.
about Odds Against Tomorrow:
In the the near future: Mitchell Zukor, a gifted young mathematician, is hired by a mysterious new financial consulting firm, FutureWorld. The business operates out of an empty office in the Empire State Building; Mitchell is employee number two. He is asked to calculate worst-case scenarios in the most intricate detail, and his schemes are sold to corporations to indemnify them against any future disasters. This is the cutting edge of corporate irresponsibility, and business is booming. As Mitchell immerses himself in the mathematics of catastrophe—ecological collapse, war games, natural disasters—he becomes obsessed by a culture's fears. Yet he also loses touch with his last connection to reality: Elsa Bruner, a friend with her own apocalyptic secret, who has started a commune in Maine. Then, just as Mitchell's predictions reach a nightmarish crescendo, an actual worst-case scenario overtakes Manhattan. Mitchell realizes he is uniquely prepared to profit. But at what cost? At once an all-too-plausible literary thriller, an unexpected love story, and a philosophically searching inquiry into the nature of fear, Nathaniel Rich's Odds Against Tomorrow poses the ultimate questions of imagination and civilization. The future is not quite what it used to be.
Born in New York City, Nathaniel Rich now lives in New Orleans. He has served as an editor at The Paris Review and is the author of The Mayor's Tongue and San Francisco Noir.
Robin Sloan grew up in Michigan and now splits his time between San Francisco and the Internet.