OVERRIDE

Odds Against Tomorrow

A Novel

Nathaniel Rich

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

NEW YORK CITY, the near future: Mitchell Zukor, a gifted young mathematician, is hired by a mysterious new financial consulting firm, FutureWorld. The business operates out of a cavernous office in the Empire State Building; Mitchell is employee number two. He is asked to calculate worst-case scenarios in the most intricate detail, and his schemes are sold to corporations to indemnify them against any future disasters. This is the cutting edge of corporate irresponsibility, and business is booming.

As Mitchell immerses himself in the mathematics of catastrophe—ecological collapse, global war, natural disasters—he becomes obsessed by a culture’s fears. Yet he also loses touch with his last connection to reality: Elsa Bruner, a friend with her own apocalyptic secret, who has started a commune in Maine. Then, just as Mitchell’s predictions reach a nightmarish crescendo, an actual worst-case scenario overtakes Manhattan. Mitchell realizes he is uniquely prepared to profit. But at what cost?

At once an all-too-plausible literary thriller, an unexpected love story, and a philosophically searching inquiry into the nature of fear, Nathaniel Rich’s Odds Against Tomorrow poses the ultimate questions of imagination and civilization. The future is not quite what it used to be.

An NPR Best Book of 2013

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The way other people fantasize about surprise inheritances, first-glance love, and endless white empyreal pastures, Mitchell dreamed of an erupting supervolcano that would bury North America under a foot of hot ash. He envisioned a nuclear exchange with China; a modern black plague; an asteroid tearing apart the crust of the earth, unleashing a new dark age. Such singularities didn’t frighten him, he claimed; they offered freedom. They opened wormholes to a sublime realm of fantasy and chaos. Worst-case scenarios, he said, were for him games of logic. How vast
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REVIEWS

Praise for Odds Against Tomorrow

Praise for The Mayor’s Tongue

“A brilliantly told novel, by turns terrifying, touching, and wildly funny.” —Stephen King

“An author who could well become one of the defining writers of his generation.” —The Sunday Telegraph

“A spare masterpiece.” —The Boston Globe

In the Press

Work in Progress » Blog Archive » Novels and the Future
On May 7th, Robin Sloan and Nathaniel Rich sat down in front of an audience at City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco to discuss the role of fiction in interpreting the future. After the event, the conversation continued online.
- FSG's Work in Progress

Reviews from Goodreads

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Nathaniel Rich

  • Nathaniel Rich is the author of The Mayor’s Tongue. His essays and short fiction have appeared in Harper’s Magazine, The New York Review of Books, McSweeney’s, and The New York Times Magazine. Born in New York City, he now lives in New Orleans.

  • Nathaniel Rich © Meredith Angelson
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Odds Against Tomorrow

A Novel

Nathaniel Rich

NPR Best Book of the Year
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