Monday, March 16, 2015

Contract City - Mark Falkin

Contract City
Mark Falkin
Bancroft Press, Mar 15 2015, $22.95
ISBN: 9781610881449

By 2021, allegedly to reduce costs, Tulsa contracts out all governmental work to a private firm Free Force Tulsa (FFT).  Those services inside the “Zone” not providing enough of a profit to FFT including schools for the impoverished and hospitals caring for the indigent are shut; forcing for instance the ER outside the Zone to provide combat-like emergency care.  Patrolling the Zone are armored vehicles, which makes the city look more like a military occupation.

T. Boone Pickens High School student Sara Paige Christie hopes that the UCLA film school accepts her as a student, but needs an edge against the fierce competition for admissions.  Using a school camera she borrowed, the wannabe filmmaker documents her privatized city with a focus on graffiti like “the fucking terrorists fucking won” and other entities signed by “WH2RR??” that have popped up in City Hall, the politically connected Chosen Hill megachurch she and her parents attend, and other civil and private locales.  While the FFT police target Sara and her family, she continues to learn more about WH2RR??; while also fearing that she and her beloved parents could be locked away in a privatized cell.

Contract City is a thought-provoking corporatocracy thriller that extrapolates current trends to privatize government functions; for instance firefighting only occurs in neighborhoods where residents can pay the surcharge..  The insightful storyline depicts what happens to services when bottom line efficiency based on a flexible performance work statement supersedes bureaucratic effectiveness efforts to accomplice the mission IAW rigid laws.  Though Sara’s escapes seem unlikely even with insider protection, she and the graffiti artist propel this action-packed tale that will have readers reconsider whether contracting out is the right thing for every governmental task.

Harriet Klausner

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