This is a book that has a subtle vegan message – something which indicates that the author, may be a vegan.
‘Yeah,’ Ben says. ‘There’s something about the way we treat animals that just seems so, I don’t know, dystopian: like contemporary life is like some far-fetched science-fiction novel.’ He gives me a serious look that mutates into a grin. ‘You know, I read about this series of experiments where they got animals to ask for food by pressing buttons. Birds had to balance on a lever. Other animals like pigs and cows used their snouts. The researchers found that cows liked to be stroked, so much that they would press a button to make it happen. The pigs in particular were so advanced that they learnt every single thing they were taught. They were happily pressing buttons for food, for strokes, for toys. I looked at the pictures of these pigs sitting in front of these consoles and I thought, “******* hell, I can’t eat an animal that can play videogames.’
PopCo tells the story of Alice Butler-a subversively smart girl in our commercial-soaked world who grows from recluse orphan to burgeoning vigilante, buttressed by mystery, codes, math, and the sense her grandparents gave her that she could change the world.
Alice-slight introvert, crossword compositor- works at PopCo, a globally successful and slightly sinister toy company. Lured by their CEO to a Thought Camp out on the moors, PopCo’s creatives must invent the ultimate product for teenage girls. Meanwhile, Alice receives bizarre, encrypted messages she suspects relate to her grandfather’s decoding of a centuries-old manuscript that many-including her long-disappeared father-believe leads to buried treasure. Its key, she’s sure, is engraved on the necklace she’s been wearing since she was ten. Using the skills she learned from her grandparents and teaching us aspects of cryptanalysis, Alice discovers the source of these creepy codes. Will this lead her to the mysterious treasure or another, even more carefully guarded secret?
About Scarlett Thomas:
She has been longlisted for the Orange Prize, shortlisted for the South African Boeke Prize and was once the proud recipient of an Elle Style Award. She is currently Professor of Creative Writing & Contemporary Fiction at the University of Kent in the UK. She lives in a Victorian house near the sea and spends a lot of time reading Chekhov and Katherine Mansfield.
She is currently working on a new novel and a memoir about the year she reached 6th in the UK for her age group in tennis. Follow her progress and support her on Patreon – www.patreon.com/scarthomas