Orthicon is a sci-fi satire about dystopian America where cartoon characters are alive and planning a malicious coup to overthrow the political regime according to the intolerant conservative government. The President fears that the toons would demand citizenship, equal rights and end up taking over the country. And so, he calls for a timely political intervention to save America from the delinquents by deporting and rehabilitating them to outer space on a planet called Orthicon, with the aid of a large vacuum cleaner kind of SuperSucker machine. CIA Agent Samson Snead, who is a pro in such matters, is entrusted to execute this top secret mission. While the toons struggle to put a fight against this unjust behaviour, a different future awaits them at Orthicon under the dictatorship, Oops! leadership of Sam Snead, who recently had the taste of power.
Structure and Elements of the book
The book is a science fiction satire with dark humour as its core element written by author David Perlmutter. It is weaved in a dystopian environment where the conservative regime is governing America and doing everything against the democratic and liberal ideology. The story follows the full narrative arc where the first half of the book introduces the theme and is set on Earth, the other half takes place on an imaginary planet called Orthicon where the much-awaited and much chaotic climax takes place.
The story has been narrated from many POVs which changes scene by scene. While it may be an attempt to introduce the readers with different characters and their side of story, it may break the flow for some.
Sarcasm and humor are the weapons used to poke the irrational conduct of the officials. The book will make you cry out of laughter and will appreciate the author’s subtle sense of humor and timing. The plot itself is hilarious given the sensitive portrayal of the grave danger the small inanimate objects of joy pose to the powerful conservative regime of America.
“And these ‘toons’ have, of late, become a dangerously malfeasant political force in America. They are even now demanding their rights as full and equal American citizens.”
The high profile, ultra-secretive mission to drive them out from the face of the earth involving CIA, NASA and the military makes it even more hysterical.
“This is ultra-highly exclusive information! We must discuss it in the only place where it is appropriate to be discussed: the closet.”
A red flag to warn of some sensitive ethnic remarks, though it is more of a sarcastic comment on the narrow and discriminatory school of thoughts than a direct remark over any race or community.
The story is narrated in a sarcastic tone to comment on the suppression of the rights of minorities. When reasoned, the intolerant government accuses toons of poisoning the children with liberalism, an inglorious justification that won’t satiate any just and righteous mind. While the elected government and officials have lost reason, the toons seem to have retained it which is reflected at many instances in the book.
“He has plenty of Bibles, but no Darwin!”
The author has balanced the satire and sensitivity of the issue by invoking sympathy in his portrayal of the inglorious exile of toons that were created to spread happiness and joy. A true symbolic representation and near recreation of the horrific misdeeds of the past when power fell into the wrong hands and the innocents had to pay the price.
Even simple sentences can strike you with the gravity of the situation.
“Nobody laughed. And I thought these people were supposed to have a sense of humor.”
The momentum of the plot proceeds with the central character ‘Snead’. While reading, it feels some of the toons took a little more space with their backstories that could have been avoided. The execution of this interplanetary plot with so many elements and characters could be a lot. Although there are some instances where confusion was inevitable, the author has made a great effort to preserve the momentum and humor till the end.
There are many elements and instances in the story which makes it worth reading. I loved how it began and was smitten by the short, precise and insanely humorous dialogues. The rebellious, weird and lovely little family of Sam Snead, the wise toons and their punches, and the imaginary world of Orthicon is something to read once. I recommend this book as a short, insanely funny yet sensitive read which will leave you rolling on the floor and mark the author for the next read.
Pro Book Reviews Rating
Structure and Elements: 4/5