Rob Hart has written a novel about a possible future in the business world. He sets up a scenario where today’s shifts in commerce become magnified and then frightening.
The type of change in the way we do business has evolved over the last several centuries. It began with what has been termed the Industrial Revolution, in which the small shop employing a few people making products on a scale geared to lower sales turned into giant companies employing thousands turning out thousands of these same products. Costs are lower and so are the prices. The problem is the stultifying work involved doing the same thing hour after hour from one day to the next.
The Warehouse is a well done glimpse into a world where one gigantic company, known as the Cloud, supplies most of the wants of its myriad customers with almost anything they may require. Hart envisions the Cloud as employing hundreds of thousands in a work environment that includes those hired living within the area controlled by the company. They work there, they live there, they eat there, and spend all their time on its premises.
Paxton is a man that had started his own business, but failed when the product he was trying to sell could not obtain a patent. He managed to get a job with the Cloud and feels very grateful for it.
Zinnia, a pretty young lady, also gets a job but she is there being paid by an outside group to do damage to the company by finding it’s secrets. She is fit for this job because she has done it in other situations with success.
Paxton and Zinnia do meet, with him falling in love with her. On the other hand, Zinnia thinks of Paxton as a means of ferreting out information due to his fast rise at the Cloud.
Taken by themselves, the problems and worries of the two make for a very fascinating story and are well worth the read. But, of course there is more involved. The Cloud is a company that has become larger and more powerful than many countries and is a law unto itself. The prediction by the author certainly is a good guess in a novel that is an 1984 look alike. The fact is that with the advent of selling on the internet as a way of operating, costs of doing business for formerly huge stores are too high to really compete with an operation that does not need to have a place geared to walk in trade.
The Warehouse, in addition to the story of Paxton and Zinnia and their meeting, is also thought provoking since the premise of a huge company becoming more powerful than their government is very visible in today’s business area. A very well done look at what could be our near future fate.
8/19 Paul Lane
THE WAREHOUSE by Rob Hart. Crown (August 20, 2019). ISBN 978-1984823793. 368p.