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The Situation
Reviewed by Peggy Hailey, © 2008

Format: Book
By:   Jeff VanderMeer
Genre:   Fantasy
Review Date:   April 03, 2008

Do you like your job? Are you friendly with the people you work with? Can you trust your boss?

What if you got back from your vacation to find your workplace subtly altered, almost sinister? How would it feel to be shut out: the straggler outside the herd? All of the weirdness you're imagining right now cannot hold a candle to Jeff VanderMeer's workplace satire The Situation.

Savante returns from his vaction to find that things have changed at his office. Friends have switched departments, or formed new alliances while he was away. Policy and procedures are new, but no one has brought him up to speed. He struggles mightily to adapt, but it seems that everyone is against him. Savante's days at the Company are numbered.

There's a lot of emotion behind this story, especially anger. But even as he paints cruel word-pictures of the other workers at the Company, VanderMeer graces us with some fantastic images: communication beetles, a paper-skinned manager with a dry, shrivelled leaf for a heart, the savage smile of a manipulative coworker.

But even with the strange setting and fantastical images, what's really gripping is how recognizable the actions of the Company and its minions are, and the utter bewilderment of Savante, who's done nothing wrong, yet can't seem to make it right.

If ever you've had a bad employment experience, you'll recognize the setting, the characters, and especially the emotions of The Situation.

It's a short, savage salvo of righteous anger, and it makes a terrific companion to VanderMeer's other workplace satire (and one of my personal favorites) "Secret Life."

PS Publishing has outdone themselves on the packaging, too. The book itself is clean and well-designed, and the creepily gorgeous Ben Templesmith cover puts it over the top.

RevSF book maven Peggy Hailey wishes that so much of this story didn't ring true.

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