The Shapiro Matrix / Lechtman, Michael

What would you get if you combined 1984, Blade Runner, and Brazil, and added a sprinkling of wry humor to lighten the darkness a bit? It would be my latest book, The Shapiro Matrix. It stands on its own as a look at a dystopian near future in an America where all freedoms have been taken away by the government in the name of progress, replaced by computer algorithms that control everyone’s life.
The Constitution has been sequestered, and the legal system has been relegated to filing a 3 x 5 card and waiting for the algorithm to generate a person’s fate. All cars have been confiscated by the government, replaced by a system of independent, self-driven vehicles, known as the “mainline.” People are charged a tax for breathing, because they emit CO2, contrary to the government’s phony Big Change. The tax, and the money realized by the forced sale of all personal vehicles pays for the mainline operation and other government self-indulgences, enjoyed by the ruling elite. There is very little work available, and people are forced to live on a small universal basic income. Poverty is rampant, and people will do anything to earn extra money, just to live. Lawless gangs of immigrants, intentionally brought in by the government, are roaming everywhere, homeless. There is one government TV station that constantly broadcasts its strange propaganda, to people who are forced to listen to it while they ride the mainline. All communications between people are highly monitored and sanctioned severely if they fail to say the correct thing. The President of the United States may, or may not, even exist as a real person.
Enter Nick Shapiro, a once successful lawyer, who is now struggling to survive under the new repressive government regulations. Quite by accident, through the self-dealing lawyer, Pete Jacobs, he discovers a flaw in the algorithms that allows him to fight back against the matrix of totalitarianism. With the assistance of his girlfriend, Gloria, and his long-time secretary, Carol Emry, they recruit Diane, a mysterious older woman who looks twenty-nine years old, to slowly make inroads against the repression. Just when they think they are in position to restore democracy, by manipulating the algorithm and having Martin T. Van Coghlan elected president, things only become worse. The absolute power and wealth Van Coghlan obtains, at the direction of Pete Jacobs, pushes him to the far right, with even more oppression, and the planned elimination of twenty-million immigrants living in America, through a suicidal war with a Mideastern country.
The surprising conclusion unfolds slowly, as the lives of Shapiro, Gloria, Diane, and Carol are explored in depth, and how each fits into the cogs of the machine to engage in a difficult fight that might restore the liberties and affluence America once knew. Will they be successful in their fight against the mysterious dictatorship America has become? Find out when you read The Shapiro Matrix.

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