I must admit satire is not my usual pick (as a matter of fact, I haven’t read something like this since high school), but, as shallow as it might sound, that gorgeous cover drew me in. And I was pleasantly surprised.
Our main character is just a normal dude, jobless, living with his mother and playing games all day, and he doesn’t mind it that much. However, when he stumbles upon a great job, which is taking surveys for a bunch of money, of course he doesn’t decline. So what if he has to give out a bunch of his personal info, at least he got free VR glasses and a pizza! But soon he finds out it would’ve been better if he signed a deal with the devil himself.
This was such an interesting book and definitely a breath of fresh air in comparison to my usual romances and fantasies. I would say if you’re also like me and don’t really know much about satire (or conspiracy theories), you might enjoy this.
This definitely made me think of myself, as I also do surveys for money in my free time and I also have all those apps where you spend hours upon hours playing games for a few cents. So I just might not be that different from our main character lol.
To summarize, this was a very interesting and quick read and even though it might seem as a harmless fictional story, it has a deeper meaning. The way you portray it comes to you. I quite enjoyed it and if you think this is the content you might like, definitely pick it up!
Very nice review, and it’s heartening to hear that the reviewer liked it, despite not being too steeped in satire as a genre, or conspiracy theories. I hope to have a few other bloggers who will publish reviews as well in the coming weeks.
If you’re a blogger, podcaster, or social media influencer who would like a digital copy of the book for review, please let me know. You can contact me at the Lost Books site.
Conspiratopiais a utopian satire set in a parallel universe where conspiracy theories have completely overridden society. Or is it a documentary set in the near future? One of those two.
The star of Conspiratopia, is Matt, creator of a couple not-that-viral conspiracy videos that only got a few thousand videos on TikTok (#conspiracytok), but which ended up costing him his job. He is also known online as Super Smart Conspiracy Dude, and you can watch all his videos here and here.
Even though personally I hate t-shirts, and never wear them because they make me feel like I’m choking, there’s also a t-shirt you can buy (if you want to torture yourself with close fitting garments adorned with someone else’s slogans, that is).
Conspiratopia will be published here serially as it is written, in original unedited drafts. I will later go back and do improved versions, and package it as an ebook, a print book, NFTs, a CD-ROM, a cuneiform tablet, and whatever else kids are into these days. Or at least an ebook, cause that costs me nothing.
You can check out other books I’ve written here, and an interview with me here, plus a podcast with me here.
A Horror Story of a Late 2010’s Tech Unicorn Gone Horribly Wrong
I have for years kept up a friendship with a most interesting individual who I met in certain online circles over a decade ago, and to whom I will refer here as Mr.X for privacy reasons (or “X” for short). Though we had fallen out of touch for some time, X and I go way back. Which is why I was delighted when they contacted me out of the blue recently, sliding into my private home Mailbug inbox, even though I didn’t think I’d given them the number or appropriate access permissions.
“do you believe in quatria now”
That’s all the message said. Intrigued, I wrote back. I had indeed spent the last several years exploring & writing about the mystery that is Quatria. It had lately come to consume my life. My interest had reached a zenith lately, as I see elements of the great cover-up coming unraveled, as we shift into higher-dimensional quantum space where all things are possible.
A few minutes later, we decided to go analog to “catch up,” as X put it. To my recollection, we had never once before “caught up,” so I knew something must be up. At the insistence of X, I called them at a disposable number using my secure shielded landline from inside my home Faraday Cage.
Though I am not at liberty to divulge even a fraction of a sliver of the full contents of that conversation, I can assure you that a most peculiar and eye-opening tale was laid out for me in minute detail by X. A tale about a triply peculiar company known as Early Clues Labs, once featured in Vox/Recode in 2015 on its rise to mega-stardom (archived). X’s tale related what happened after that, and the drug-fueled binge on the way back down.
For personal reasons, X does not fancy themselves a “whistleblower,” and so reached out to me as interlocutor so that the most salient parts of their story might enter the public discourse. Perhaps in bringing this sordid story to light, X hoped, the harms caused by these abuses might begin to be healed, to the extent that they could be. And where they could not be, that those affected might at the very least be compensated.
I agreed to take the case pro bono on account of our long friendship, and owing to the fact that I too was once taken in by the glitz and glamour of the Early Clues Labs world, and the promise of its amazing technologies. I had heard only inklings along the grapevine since then about what had happened to the company and its founders after being purchased like veritable chattle by Google for an undisclosed sum of money. The stories I had heard were darkly confusing, and I wanted to not believe them. But according to X, not only were they all terribly true (and terribly sad), but much more terribler things had happened. No one had yet dared to speak of these, or of what had happened when the Illustrious Founders were sucked through the Circular Vortex into the Outer Darkness, where they were captured and tortured by Timehunters.
My ears cringed at the details X related, and which, as a part of that collective intelligence, had themselves experienced, if only from afar. For though the Founders had gone into the Outer Darkness, X had managed to stay behind, because their bus had been late to the office on that fateful day…
That whole horrifying story is too fraught and chaotically complex for me to face still, let alone write about in its entirety. Instead, I will focus on the task at hand, which is revealing certain artifacts to the public from this time period, from this tragic fall from grace of a company which I once loved and cared deeply about, the promise of whose ground-breaking technologies, as originally envisioned, lies yet unfulfilled all these years later.
Is it possible Early Clues Labs was so far ahead of its time, that they stepped outside of time altogether? And that this is what summoned the Timehunters through the Circular Vortex in the first place? No one can say for certain, but it’s the best folk-explanation of all the myriad threads I’ve read about it over the years of following the mystery on Reddit. It may very well be that there’s no explanation for it at all, or that the truest explanation is the most basic, that humans have inherent frailties in their nature which perhaps can never be overcome, but the struggle against which – or the lack thereof – is what ends up truly defining us.
For many of those who ended up on the meteoric train rise that was Early Clues Labs, it is precisely that lack of struggle against the vagaries and weaknesses of human nature which is so troubling. That so many people could be so mutually brainwashed by groupthink into thinking that their course was the right one, even as their company slid ever further from its ideals into a realm of unparalleled darkness and debauchery. Well, it just shocks our sensibilities, and we don’t want to face it or believe that it could happen even to the best of us. Which is precisely why we must face it, head on.
What follows are a series of short videos sent to me securely by X, and cryptographically authenticated by myself, and certain third parties who shall remain nameless. These videos appear to be internal training videos which X believes were in use at Early Clues Labs from early 2017 through sometime in 2019, before the company’s spectacular collapse.
The videos are presented by a character beloved in the Early Clues Corporate Mythos, ZANTA1000, who one might think of as a kind of corporate mascot, and whose jovial nature was chosen to help represent the many gifts the Founders naively thought their technology would bring to Legacy Reality.
X was only able to deliver me nine of what I am told is over three thousand installments in this corporate training series. Upon review of the full set, I decided and X agreed not to release two of them, because they were just such an affront to the senses, that we believed they were better left unpublished. We thought the controversy which might arise from their release would overshadow the important message warning of the dangers of corporate excess contained in the rest.
The accusations which I’ve heard leveled at the company over the years start to seem perhaps more and more justified the further one gets into this so-called “training” session, which seems more like indoctrination into a CULT if you ask me!
Now, this next one is for me actually the most interesting of the entire collection, due to my current obsession with all things Quatrian. For it is apparent from the writings of the Founders, that they too had stumbled upon the secret mystery known as Quatria. But, in their hunger and thirst for knowledge, had drunk more deeply of those ancient wells than even I myself had, attaining levels of insight and communication with that lost world which I myself could only dream of in my most lucid hours.
Sadly, other videos delving into the more esoteric elements of the Early Clues story were not made available to me, so I can only wonder at the true depth of their knowledge. The preponderance of the videos in my possession continue apace to paint the picture of a company veering wildly out of control, and out of touch with ordinary human reality, as they no doubt attained ever more rarified levels of technical knowledge.
The flagrant disregard for humanity in these videos, in a way, only proves how far ahead of its time Early Clues Labs was. Way back in 2019, they had innovatively spear-headed a “no politics” company, anticipating the trend which would be adopted by their peers such as Coinbase and Basecamp years later. To my knowledge, they were the only company which threatened to actually criminally prosecute employees for speaking about politics, though X would not confirm nor deny whether they ever did so.
Lastly, this is the wrap-up video to the extremely long and arduous corporate training program used at Early Clues Labs. It describes a bizarre ordeal which new initiates had to pass through on their way up the corporate ladder, which I won’t spoil for you by describing. Just watch the video.
I had only planned originally to publish these to Vimeo and to my personal blog, as well as perhaps cross-posting to Medium, so that I might earn a generous $0.25 USD from their Partner Program. But X insisted that he wanted me to publish them “onto the blockchain” so that there would forever be an immutable permanent record of these true events. In honor of our long friendship, I agree to do so, and offer them here for sale, at very, very reasonable prices, considering their rarity and historic importance.
While Edward Allen Oxford is a totally true figure who actually existed, I will admit to a bit of creative invention on my part. The only photo of Oxford which was in my possession was badly damaged by the ravages of time and weathering in the attic within which it was hidden for so many years in Eastern Canada.
As a result, I found myself in need of assistance in restoring this piece of Quatrian history. Regular old Photoshop 6 & my early 2000’s SCSI scanner was not up to the task. So I had to enlist the help of an AI, constructed years ago and largely forgotten by its creator, Richard Rider.
It took me some time to boot up the ancient machine this largely legacy software calls home. But once I did, we were “in business.”
Rider’s AI then proceeded to scan all known databases, past, present & future for any records remotely matching the fragments which were in my possession, or which were registered on the blockchain for his relatives, ancestors, or descendants, based on the DNA pulled from hairs in the sample I found in the attic in Eastern Canada. From these, it generated a composite facial reconstruction, and many intermediaries along the hyperreal spectrum, which I was able to selectively apply & discard in turn, until I landed on the matching photographic reconstruction you see below, which has now become quite well known as a result of the massive news coverage Quatria has been getting lately.
This image will soon be released as an NFT, through the famous site called SuperRare, where prices for suchwise artefacts are exceedingly handsome.