Scorch

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In SCORCH the debut novel from an exciting new talent, America is run by a Corporacracy, where conglomerates have taken control, not by force, but by manipulating common beliefs and fears of an overcontrolling central authority - Big Brother. Everything is privatised, from city streets to public schools. The landscape is a chaos of flashing screens and advertisements that evoke desire, create desire, and interfere with people's ability to reason critically or even think coherently. These ubiquitous reminders of what individuals are lacking - be it a weekend car, wild enough sex, or basic safety - create such a climate of misery and anxiety that people fall prey to a charismatic leader's new scheme for quick fix happiness. Wealthy Doctor Aslow, a popular selfhelp videobook author, is a man deranged by grief after his son is killed in a shoot-out started by a homeless person. Aslow becomes a religious fanatic and self-produces a videobook series promoting vigilante groups to rid society of its Satanic influences - the homeless. The conglomerates spot an opportunity in this scheme. They offer a modest sum for each homeless person brought into one of their corporate prisons, which soon become a source of free labour resulting in massive lay-offs, causing more homelessness and the gradual incineration of the entire workforce. Arel Ashe, an unremarkable woman who works in a library and writes programme-length ads for television, hatches a plan to try to redeem the world, but it seems to be too late.