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Andri Snǣr Magnason
Seven Stories Press, November 2012
320 pages

In the not-so-distant future, a team of Icelandic scientists has discovered the revolutionary science of birdwaves, opening up a world of massive, cordless, instantaneous communication. This future is presided over by LoveStar, the cultish leader of the company that bears his name. His empire includes LoveDeath, in which the dead are rocketed into the stratosphere and burned as shooting stars; inLove, which matches perfect mates based on their waves; and the iStar Mood Division, a marketing and publicity system that would make David Ogilvy weep. The story of LoveStar himself is pure tragedy:  the aging mogul who gains untold power only to realize he’s created a monstrous, corporate juggernaut. His realization, unfortunately, comes far too late to stop it.

Meanwhile, Indridi and Sigrid are in love. An all-encompassing, saccharine love. But in LoveStar, love has little to do with the actual people involved. It’s a calculation, a simple case of putting together two waves so they resonate perfectly. When Sigrid is calculated to someone else, she and Indridi must decide if they will stay together—or indeed, if they can stay together amid the onslaught of inLove, iStar, and LoveDeath forces who will ruin their lives to make the sale.

Indridi and Sigrid’s LoveStar-Crossed Lovers story is played tongue-in-cheek—it’s almost farcical the way Magnason throws around puffin sandwiches and life-size child-eating Mickey Mouses. By contrast, he also has a rare talent for horror, and the details he gives us are so compelling they often overshadow the main action: children ask their grandparents when they’re going to die already, so that they can meet the Larry LoveDeath theme park character; victims of a train wreck moan CORONA BEER! as they lie dying, because demographics show 112 million viewers have tuned in to the scene.

Lovestar is a dystopia for the information age. But unlike most dystopias, the LoveStar world is also shocking in its beauty. Imagine the air filled with recording butterflies, or your deceased loved ones falling to earth as brilliant shooting stars. Don’t we just ache for a world where deep, abiding love is just a calculation away?

When we finally understand how the universe is interconnected, will it be utopia, or the end of the world?