Book Of The Week, 5th July 2021

Olga Ravn: The Employees. A workplace novel of the 22nd century. Lolli Edition, 2020. PB, £8.99

A very different novel and (literally) a fantastic read. It is a small SiFi book in pages, but of epic length when it comes to its topics.

It is a space opera as well as a satire of corporate world, it’s language and work attitude, what it means to be an employee in our capitalist world. Also it is somewhat an investigation into what it means to be human. 

The employees of the ship have been called to take part of the investigation of an deadly incident on the ship. As we are reading through a series of statements to a bureaucratic committee we are learning about the built of the ship, the life after earth, the strange objects and the thoughts of the employees about it all.

We are getting an idea of the effects of the strange objects they have to live with but not what they might be or do. We read about the crews thoughts, that these objects might “precipitate reduction or enhancement of performance, task-related understanding and the acquisition of new knowledge and skills”.
„It is astonishing how much Ravn achieves in her small canvas of 130-odd pages: she muses on transhumanism, illuminates the dreamlike logic of inner lives, contrasts artistic and religious impulses with the anti-human reductionism of corporate jargon. And she does all this while retaining an elliptical, open-ended mystery and a delicately elegiac tone.“ (The Guardian, 12th May 2021).

A book that is leaving us with a few questions we should answer for our every day life at work and at home and how others and ourselves define us these days. The big question what it means to be human and how to protect it is as relevant as ever.