A to Z Reviews: “The Adventure of You,” by Paul La Farge

A to Z Reviews: “The Adventure of You,” by Paul La Farge

A to Z ReviewsPaul LaFarge wrote five novels before his death in January 2023 from cancer. His essays and fiction appeared in a variety of magazines. Only a small portion of his work was within the genre, but the story “The Adventure of You,” which appeared in Gordon van Gelder’s original anthology Welcome to Dystopia in 2019 is one of those genre stories.

In an unspecified time and place in the future, John Arnold Arnold is working as a debris removal specialist for a company. The story is told through a memo from the company’s HR department, ostensibly to help Arnold’s mental health, but it quickly becomes clear that the program being offered is more for the company’s benefit than Arnold’s. The memos offer an explanation of the situation in the company town for the reader while providing indoctrination for the workers.

Welcome to Dystopia

At odds with the instructions in the memos are the chatty, friendly tone they take on. The workers are not being browbeaten or threatened, but rather gently cajoled into doing what is best for the company at their own expense. For the reader, LaFarge is providing an insight into the insidious dystopic nature of the society in which Arnold lives.

The airy nature of the story, including the use of short memos to relate what is happening, only serves to heighten the horrors of the manner in which the company’s employees are treated. Arnold and his cohort appear to be completely unaware of their own collusion in the way the company is treating them. They are totally brainwashed to believe that their happiness entirely relies on the success of the company in getting work from them.

In retrospect, what makes the story so horrific is the simple fact that it is not written as a horror story and has none of the tropes one would expect. Nevertheless, it serves as a strong call to arms for employee rights by depicting a world in which employees not only don’t have rights, but can’t even conceive that they are missing out on rights.



Steven H Silver-largeSteven H Silver is a twenty-time Hugo Award nominee and was the publisher of the Hugo-nominated fanzine Argentus as well as the editor and publisher of ISFiC Press for eight years. He has also edited books for DAW, NESFA Press, and ZNB. His most recent anthology is Alternate Peace and his novel After Hastings was published in 2020. Steven has chaired the first Midwest Construction, Windycon three times, and the SFWA Nebula Conference six times. He was programming chair for Chicon 2000 and Vice Chair of Chicon 7.

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x