The Employees by Olga Ravn
July 15, 2023 5:12 AM - Subscribe

The Employees chronicles the fate of the Six-Thousand Ship. The human and humanoid crew members complain about their daily tasks in a series of staff reports and memos. When the ship takes on a number of strange objects from the planet New Discovery, the crew becomes strangely and deeply attached to them, even as tensions boil toward mutiny, especially among the humanoids.
posted by Literaryhero (6 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Another book I found in that lesser known writers AskMe question. I'm gonna be perfectly honest here. I hated it. The book is perfectly well written and I think it does what it intends to impeccably, it just happens that I didn't want that book. It is short enough that I finished it anyway, but I knew from the outset that it wasn't really the type of book I wanted to read.

I can't really put my finger on why, except that I went in knowing nothing except that it was "surreal capitalism commentary, in space", which for some reason I was expected like an Ikea store horror novel but instead it was more like VanderMeer's Annihilation.
posted by Literaryhero at 5:21 AM on July 15


This was a book I sought out. It sounded interesting enough that I hunted it down in 2021 when the Booker short list came out. But I think your comparison to Annihilation is apt. There's never enough spelled out in The Employees that would allow my emotions to actually connect. Are these creatures? Are humans the characters being interviewed? Is there a planet, a ship? Everything felt like it was receding. That may be part of the plan, the purpose of the book. But the cobwebby, obscure description of what was happening didn't coalesce into something I could interact with. Nonetheless, a cool premise knocked out in a compact format.
posted by cocoagirl at 5:32 PM on July 16 [2 favorites]


Incidentally, I copied the blurb from Amazon for the post text. However, I excised the first few words because it starts with "Funny and doom-drenched", which I don't think actually applies to this book?
posted by Literaryhero at 5:13 PM on July 17


I started this book not really liking it but since it was short enough, just kept reading. As I progressed, I sort of dropped the need for a more cohesive structured plot, and by the end found it a quite enjoyable read. I felt like I was experiencing the book the same way the subjects in the book were experiencing the objects. I was being affected (and perhaps changed?) in a way I found hard to put into words. I decided that the way the book was written might have been intentional, in an attempt to produce some semblance of the effect of the objects directly upon the reader. If you are willing to just go with the story and text, such as it is, it can be an enjoyable experience. And again, it's a short and easy read regardless.
posted by WhenInGnome at 5:42 PM on July 17


I love this book! I was sort of bemused and frustrated for the first quarter of my initial read-through until I found myself absent-mindedly dog-earing a page the way I do for books of poetry, and I shifted my perspective from seeking narrative sense to reading for the beauty of the language, and letting the narrative find me where it will. With all my best-loved poetry collections, the longer I have them the more pages get dog-eared as I read them in different moods, with different perspectives. I have a feeling that one day nearly every page of my copy will have a corner folded over.

I describe it to people as "VanderMeer meets Louise Gl├╝ck".
posted by rosemary.world at 8:10 PM on July 17 [1 favorite]


Welp.

I have no idea what the heck THAT was supposed to be about.
posted by kyrademon at 9:32 AM on October 2


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