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Ecstasy Club [Hardcover]

Douglas Rushkoff
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 1 1997
When the young, hypertalented idealists who call themselves Ecstasy Club find an abandoned piano factory in Oakland, they make it the focus of a round-the-clock rave the likes of which the Bay Area has never seen before. They also make the factory a base camp in their search for a method of time travel that combines computer wizadry, esoteric spirituality, and mind-altering substances. The club's mesmeric leader, Duncan, and our resourceful narrator, Zach, actually manage to "break time" online, only to discover that an unsettling array of characters has beat them to it. Government agents, corporate saboteurs, religious zealots, and even the local cops are suddenly out to get the club. As they battle an ingeniously conceived conspiracy (think Thomas Pynchon meets the X-FILES), Zach battles his own growing affection for Duncan's lover, Lauren, and begins to wonder whether enlightenment is all it's cracked up to be.

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The end of the millennium is just a couple of years away, and folks, it's getting squirrelly out there. Survivalists are stockpiling weapons in the hills as they wait for black helicopters and a new world order; Heaven's Gate cultists returned to the mother ship via poison-laced applesauce while members of the Solar Temple believed their suicides on earth would result in a better life on the planet Sirius. Can it get any stranger? In Douglas Rushkoff's novel, Ecstasy Club, it can and does. Rushkoff's club is an abandoned piano factory in Oakland, California, where members of a small group of idealists hold round-the-clock raves even as they seek to combine computer technology, mind-altering substances, and New Age spirituality to create a method of time travel.

Along with end-of-the-world scenarios, the millennium brings with it a heavy dose of conspiracy theory, and Ecstasy Club has its fair share. Once narrator Zach Levi and his merry band actually succeed in "breaking time" online, they are beset by menacing government agents, religious zealots, and a host of other special interest groups who are out to shut them down. So while we're all waiting for 1999, what better way to pass the time than with Douglas Rushkoff's Ecstasy Club?

From Kirkus Reviews

Rushkoff, author of such books on the emerging cyberculture as Playing the Future (1996), etc., applies his Faith Popcornlike sense of the zeitgeist to his first fiction: a high-tech conspiracy tale that ends up as a conventional melodrama despite its next-wave flair. In an abandoned factory in Oakland, a group of drug-munching techno-nerds and cyber-geeks, along with a guru wannabe, set up their experiment in communal living: a huge, fully wired environment for moneymaking parties and performances. With their virtual reality toys and visionquest drugs, the motley group of eight or so full-time residents hope to discover a higher level of consciousness and evolve as a select group of psychic travelers. Duncan, the leader of the rave cult, is a master of situational psychology, capable of bending his minions to his will--except for the narrator. Zack Levi, an Ivy League grad, seems to know that he's just slumming on his way to becoming a suburban shrink. Zack, after all, recognizes the cultic dimensions of the group's experiment as some sort of Zen nazism, a yin-yang adventure in tribe-think. Lauren, Duncan's lover, is also Zack's true love, despite his cohabitation with a hippie chick named Kirsten. When things go haywire, Lauren helps Zack pull out and retreat to domestic bliss in Ohio. Along the way, Duncan focuses his paranoia on one E.T. Harmon, the leader of Cosmotology, a kind of cross between L. Ron Hubbard and Bill Gates. And, like many paranoids, Duncan has real enemies: All the troubles that befall the naive space-trippers are in fact engineered by a grand conspiracy involving Cosmotology, the government, and some characters who resemble such famed space cadets as Timothy Leary and John Lilly. Full of the buzzwords valued by advertisers and marketers, this hyped-up fiction proudly proclaims: ``This demographic belongs to us.'' Enough cyberpop sociology to keep the Internet chatting; others will log off. -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
I really enjoyed this book, even with the small little snags here and there, the slowness at the beginning, and Zach's doubt which was annoying sometimes (at least the doubt of himself - I'm not sure how real it was). But the ideas were great fun, it was neat to see how the author Douglas Rushkoff blended ideas of psychedelic science and quantum physics and fictionalized versions of psychedelic celebrities (like versions of John Lilly and Terence McKenna) and included morphonic resonance and meme warefare and the idea that there really isn't good and evil just a want for other. These are all ideas I've either run across or thought about. I enjoyed seeing them played with in a story. I thought the ending rocked, and all the little tidbits of what's real and what isn't. And how consensual reality is manipulated, or can be. The CIA experiments were a lot like the ones they said the Cosmotologists (Scientologists-a play on them, huh?) and the gov't did on psychics with ... in the 50s-60s.
Sure, a lot of the book is also pop psychology and pop psychedelica, but it was fun reading. And the rave ideology was interesting, even though I'm not certain the energy should be attempted to be directed, I like the idea of it coalescing much more.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply an excellent read March 11 2000
By A Customer
Well, you have to notice that people either love or hate this book. That means it generated a strong emotional response either way, which for an author, is always a goal. I simply loved it. If you read through expecting all of it to be realistic, you'll be disappointed. If you read through expecting a wild romp with some unforgettable scenes describing the philosophy of the 90's "rave culture" - you'll enjoy yourself quite a bit. Keep in mind that the book is narrated from a perspective of a person who is rather heavily drugged most of the time - I think the people who state that it is not 'believable' are missing the point completely. This book was a page turner that kept me up all night until I read it, start to finish. Simply an incredible piece of work, and I would urge any open minded people to give it a chance. The writing style is crisp and easy to follow, making it an even more enjoyable read. One of the best books I've picked up in weeks. Five stars, all the way.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Origin of PLUR Foundation Myth June 8 2002
A charismatic Brit and his entourage of overeducated dropouts take over a piano factory in Oakland, intending to squat there and throw the most massive raves the Bay Area has ever seen. But, as their project progresses, they find the mix of their idealistic youthful hormones and the hard drugs they gobble up like Captain Crunch has turned their enterprise into a paranoid schizophrenic cult called Ecstasy Club bent on time travel and transcendence. Things get weird when they actually succeed. But all is not well in Nirvana. Rushkoff manages to hard-wire a psychotically charged volume that connects all the pop-culture dots, like conspiracy theories, aliens, and MTV. The ironic distance of the narrator seems malleable, like physical distance on too much acid. Ecstasy Club seems to turn its own pages.
(this review got accidentally posted to another Rushkoff book)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great satire Jan. 31 1999
By A Customer
Rushkoff gives us the story of a group of counter-culture obsessives, trying to expand the consciousness of the entire world through drugs, techno music, and the cyberworld. While the characters take themselves completely seriously, the novel itself is a wonderful satire on the lengths people will go to simply to feed their egos, or simply to fit in. Well worth the read.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very Insightful Look Into Raves And Beyond March 6 2004
i was one of those guys who wanted to play with things that were harmful to me when i was a kid, but never got around to it. once i grew up a little, i became one of those guys who wanted to go to rave parties, but i was too busy NOT going. in my recent resurgence of curiousity, i figured i would pick up the ecstacy club and have a look. what i found was a very interesting depiction of sex, drugs, trance, rave parties, orgies, squatting and tons of acts of stupidity on the parts of various nicely fleshed out characters.
i dont remember the main character's name, but he's the smartest one out of a group of drug addled twenty-somethings who want to transcend the mortal plane though drugs and parties...and make a bunch of money along the way hosting these parties. there is a character named duncan who THINKS he's the smartest one in the group, so naturally he becomes the arrogant "cult" leader.
the main character just wants two things - to leave this life behind and to make duncan's girlfriend lauren his own. and this is the struggle until more obstacles come up out of nowhere to threaten our players.
i liked the story though i had no idea where it was going somewhere after midway through. new challenges arise as new characters are introduced and it just seemed for a while there that there was no end in sight until a particularly far-fetched final act checks in. it could all have been a believable story if not for the last fifty pages or so. check it out if you are bored of salinger and hemingway.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More Than Just Drugs Oct. 16 2001
The Ecstasy Club by Douglas Rushkoff is the fastest read book I have ever encountered. I consumed and devoured every word, every scene, every concept. This book put priority over almost everything in my life at that time. Rushkoff's ideas and concepts were extremely hard to grasp, but that is exactly what kept me interested.
This novel was the first I have ever read about the current club scene: raves, drugs, sex, and Rock 'n Roll (or in this case Techno). One may think that this novel is strictly written for the teenager, but I believe that it may attempt to explain the culture of teenagers to any adult who is interested. I believe, though, that if an adult attempts to read this novel, it will have an "all or nothing" effect; either the adult will grasp the idea completely or reject it out of ignorance.
The novel contains a journey theme. This journey consists of a group of kids traveling to throw raves for their enjoyment as well as their profit. On the symbolic level, it is a quest for the truth about life; an answer to all the questions concearning the fate of our world. In the end, the truth is not uncovered by the "deprogrammed" (Ecstasy Club members and alike) outdoing the "programmed" (cultists and fascists), but by an evolution into a mutual understanding between both groups.
When this novel was first recommended to me by a friend, I expected it to be good, but definitely not this powerful. The Ecstasy Club had me overwhelmed with the most complex thinking concearning the realites of our world that I will ever grasp. It takes a very smart, open-minded person to enjoy the novel in its entirety.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Ultimate Trip
A roller coaster ride through drugs, future concepts, morality, and cults. I loved the odd mix of characters and the piano factory setting. Read more
Published on Sept. 10 2003 by Jane Brisson
4.0 out of 5 stars Techno, Drugs and Government Conspiracy?!?
After reading some of Douglas Rushkoff's non-fiction work, specifically "Coercion", I was looking forward to checking out his story telling skills. Read more
Published on July 20 2002 by Scott
5.0 out of 5 stars More Than Just Drugs
The Ecstasy Club by Douglas Rushkoff is the fastest read book I have ever encountered. I consumed and devoured every word, every scene, every concept. Read more
Published on Oct. 16 2001 by Adam Trahan
2.0 out of 5 stars And...
...and that emptiness and boredom and blankness are the only emotions which author transferred to me as his reader through the medium of his words and it feels like a disease which... Read more
Published on July 4 2001 by Vadim Limonoff
5.0 out of 5 stars Ecstasyclub a view into each of us
Simply the best book I have ever read! Rushkoff explains in his first novel, how it feels to be a "youth" How the people in the book actually made a cult in their pursuit... Read more
Published on June 28 2000 by Sebastian
5.0 out of 5 stars AMAZING! ... for some
I have read this book more then a mounth ago and I am still shocked by it. some readers will find this book boring, hard to understand and unrealistic. Read more
Published on June 23 2000 by OZ
4.0 out of 5 stars excellent book
this book is one of those that it takes a while for you to understand, but when you do, you find that the book is amazing. Read more
Published on May 23 2000
4.0 out of 5 stars Mellow Out!
Geez, some of these reviews are a tad harsh! This book is actually quite good. It seems as though the "Rave" scene is finally coming into its' own as backdrop/inspiration... Read more
Published on March 10 2000 by Keith Boyd
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