What Does Kirkus Reviews Say about Small World ?
Under the threat of global annihilation by aliens, a journalist, together with an ever growing band of mismatched people, hunts for a mysterious individual known only as Basil.
Johnson (What Does God Do from 9 to 5, 2016, etc.) has somehow taken the philosophy of Hegel and the experiments of Milgram that demonstrate there are only five or six degrees of separation between any two people; mixed in equal parts Marx Brothers, Watergate, Douglas Adams; tagged his characters with monikers straight out of Dickens, film noir, and Snow White; and wound up with a snide, witty, completely entertaining romp through human nature and all its foibles.
The adventure begins on the moon. Journalist Dak Blayzak plans to interview a genetically engineered brainiac whose family consists of multiple self-cloned children. Instead, Blayzak winds up imprisoned for knocking down a robot, propositioned by a number of clones who want to escape with him, and ultimately dead (though rumors of his demise are greatly exaggerated). While dead, he boards a shuttle to the dark side of the moon, where he awakes to a gun-toting expert on a language no one else speaks. The Professor, as he is known, says they must find an alien named Basil in 10 days or Earth will be destroyed. The aliens communicate through a hand-held device using pictograms only the Professor can decipher. Half-convinced, Blayzak goes along with the Professor and tracks down each subsequent link to Basil. Eventually, the links lead to a supersecret cabal that runs the world, an action-and-humor–packed showdown, a return of the clones, pillories, big band music, and a tremendous explosion.
Johnson, a philosophy professor, has more up his sleeve than great writing and a funny, extremely readable story; readers will also have fun searching between the lines for deeper implications and references.
This multilevel book can be read for fun as an enjoyable farce or mined for deeper insights.
Review posted online by Kirkus Reviews on February 13, 2018.