Cover art of A Bit Too Much by Johnny Clack

ARC Review | A Bit Too Much: 01x by Johnny Clack

A topical, hard-hitting story about job loss in the face of automation and AI

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(I was offered a review copy by Reedsy Discovery in exchange for an honest review. This post contains Amazon affiliate links.)

Book Details

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Publisher: Self-published

Publication date: January 21, 2020

Pages: 112

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Book Synopsis

“I hated looking for work. I hated circling the classifieds, I hated the web searches, I hated the web job sites, I hated the phony resumes, I hated the phony interviews.

What do you think your greatest strength is?
I got to the highest level of Wolfenstein II The New Colossus.
How do you think that would help you in this job?
Hand-eye coordination. High moral character – I killed a lot of bad guys. Oh, and I killed a few bad women too. Um, I killed some good guys, but I was still a beginner when that happened.
What’s your greatest weakness?
How much time you got?

That would be an honest interview. But I need a job, so you have to make shit up and look like you care.”

Jack Lack has just lost another job to the invisible forces of automation, algorithms, and artificial intelligence. This time, though, he decides to get off the high-tech merry-go-round of serial job loss. This time, he is determined to fight back – but against who? And how?

A Bit Too Much is a darkly humorous satire that will delight readers of contemporary fiction with its gritty portrayal of a young man who grew up in the haze of Texas Gulf Coast refineries and is facing an uncertain future.

My Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A Bit Too Much isn’t a comfortable read, despite the tongue-in-cheek humor and biting sarcasm. It hits too close to the bone as it describes how Jack Lack, a man without an advanced college degree, loses job after job to automation and artificial intelligence (AI).

He takes computer course, so that he can “dine with the enemy,” but he ends up with humongous student loans–and the bills keep piling on.

This dispiriting state of affairs is further compounded by the fact that everywhere he turns, he finds humans losing their livelihoods to machines. Jack fights back in the only way he knows–and it is so distressing to read about this hapless man with no future to speak of.

Writing/Plot

The fear of losing one’s job to a robot is not misplaced, as 2019 news reports say that one-quarter of American jobs are at a high risk of automation. Clack has picked up on this sentiment perfectly and woven an all-too-real story around it. Descriptions of Amazon’s automated stores and Uber’s driverless cars give the story a sense of immediacy.

The writing is smooth and the humor is spot-on, although I was wondering where the story was going as Jack bounces from one job to the other. The ending is heartbreaking, although I’d say there’s somewhat of a silver lining as well.

Final Thoughts

You’re free to make what you want of the story because it offers no solutions, nor does it take any sort of stand. It is simply a tale of the misfortune of low-wage, low-skilled workers who find themselves facing the brunt of technological “progress.”

It certainly got me thinking about neo-luddism. I wondered if governments have a responsibility toward their citizens to ensure that they are not thrown out onto the streets as a result of AI taking over their jobs.

Should companies attempt to reskill their workforce instead of laying them off?

How can governments solve the problem of growing unemployment?

About the Author

Johnny Clack, author

Johnny Clack is retired from NASA. He lives in Temple, Texas with his wife Belinda. He has an extensive collection of Ngarden Gnomes. He has three exceptionally beautiful granddaughters – Fiona, June, and Baby Hazel.

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