Publisher: Dell Publishing Company, Inc.
First Dell Edition, 1954
Cover Art: Richard Powers
Plot Synopsis (of cover): Rex Chiselchin gravely called to his wife from their wood-paneled living room. “Luellen, could you come here for a moment?” From the kitchen, Mrs. Chiselchin replied, “Sweetie, I’m a little busy. Can it wait? You have NO idea how hard it is getting all these vegetables to stay suspended in a jello mold.” “It’s important,” Rex replied, using a Bakelite ashtray to snuff out the third cigarette he’d smoked since the conversation began. Luellen sighed, quickly swallowed a Miltown, and went to meet her husband. To her surprise, he wasn’t alone. Behind him towered a technological marvel—a wall-sized computer bank, replete with myriad switches and lights. Mrs. Chiselchin was aghast. “Comp-u-tron 500! What are you doing here?” Mr. Chiselchin, lighting his pipe, explained, “Oh, Compy here is the newest member of my bowling team. You’ll never guess what we had to talk about.” The computer bank irately ruffled through a stack of its own punch cards. “Honey,” Mrs. Chiselchin began, “I swear, that machine behind you is a beastly abomination of lies and bad electrics! Don’t believe a thing he says!” Mr. Chiselchin, smoking a cigarette between puffs of his pipe, stopped her. “I knew there was something going on, Luellen, when you fed me that line about our daughter being immaculately conceived when I was off fighting in The War. In fact, maybe she should come downstairs and meet her real father!” No longer able to fight back the tears, Mrs. Chiselchin sobbed, “No, Rex! She’s yours! You know she is! Please, don’t do this to her!” Mr. Chiselchin, ignoring his wife, shouted for his daughter, who crawled down the stairs from the second floor on animate wire appendages. “What is it, daddy?” she asked in a tinny, metallic soprano. Mr. Chiselchin turned away in shame, while the computer bank behind him proceeded to lovingly print a dot matrix heart.
Relatively Irrelevant Inside Text: What an unexpected delight. Year of Consent is surprisingly human and touching for the material it covers. This novel is a product of the paranoia of its time, and is a great example of the kind of media that would have been suppressed back then were it in the mainstream. Thank heaven for pulp. It’s very much a child of 1984, detailing a dystopian 1990s USA that controls the fates of its population through a secret government composed of media people and social psychologists in conjunction with building-sized supercomputers. Which totally isn’t happening, right guys? You totally aren’t slaves to your computer and cell phone screens. You aren’t gazing into this blog with just a little bit of shame, unable to turn away for fear of experiencing the world around you. You’re one of the few that the conditioning never affected, huh? Well, you’re not! You’re just another in the herd, being led to the slaughter by an oppressive capitalist police state! But your death won’t come so quickly—no, you sell your souls one cheeseburger at a time, and you measure out your lives in half-hour primetime blocks. When you consume, you consume yourself! Wake up, sheeple! I mean… ahem. Boy, I love the government! I love the media! I encourage you all to go out and consume! Who’s for cheeseburgers? No, don’t take me back to Guantanamo! I’ll be good, I promise! HELP! HEL-
Rating: 9.5 Government-Issued Divorce Excuses
Questions for Critical Cover-Viewing:
- When they finished making that dress, what did they do with the blue part of the flag?
- When computers were that big, was it more difficult to discreetly masturbate to online pornography?
- How much of that 25 cents per copy went to pay Cary Grant’s modeling fee?