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.