Everyone in Silico
by Jim Munroe
(Four Walls Eight Windows) $13.95

We live in a world of commercial overstimulation. Whether it's a designer label plastered across someone's chest or a product slogan turned into a catch phrase ("Wasssup!"), advertising agencies are constantly researching new ways to get us to remember and purchase their products. It's getting so bad that the last time I went to see a movie, I had to sit through 10 goddamn minutes of commercials for cars and soft drinks before the first preview even started. Jim Munroe, former managing editor of Adbusters magazine, knows our levels of commercial oversaturation too well, and his new anti-utopian science fiction novel, Everyone in Silico, skillfully tackles a future of advertising excess.

Set in the year 2036, Silico presents a world where everything, from casual conversations to the blue sky, is a marketing tool ripe for exploitation. Private companies pay kids to convince strangers to sell cigarettes, clouds form their own campaigns, and wristwatches blanket leftover space with paid programming. The only freedom from the constant pitch is money--money to transport yourself to Frisco, the purposely horribly named virtual San Francisco, where a false sense of perfect (ad-free) reality awaits.

Munroe follows the lives of different characters--advertisers and city dwellers alike--through a complicated maze of altered realities, leaving clues about the master narrative in every conversation without giving away too much. Silico is a smart, satirical look at a hyperreality that, unfortunately, as we move further into an age of guerrilla marketing, product placement, and focus groups, doesn't feel that far off in the future.

Jim Munroe reads with two other excellent writers, zine authors Andy Healey (I'm Johnny and I Don't Give a Fuck) and Gregory Hischak (Farm Pulp) on Sun Dec 8 at Confounded Books, 2235 Second Ave, 7 pm, free.

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