Dan Weiss

Black Plankton Press / 168 pages / November 1998

ISBN: 0961123613

Sometimes you just aren’t yourself. In some cases, that can be a vast improvement. Sometimes, you get to a point where you really don’t care so much for the person you’ve become. And, most times, we have good, solid ideas as to how other people could improve themselves. All for the betterment of humanity, naturally.

Step through the sparkling doors of Mood Shifts, the makeover salon of the future.

Pick a minimal 15% alteration for just that teasing hint of a change. Go for a full overwrite to step out a totally new you. Take your pick. Lose annoying traits, uncomfortable memories, unfashionable ideas — just one cautionary note: what you choose to lose is gone forever. Save your receipt, by all means, but don’t expect to change your mind.

Oh. Right. Change your mind is exactly what you will do.

Dan Weiss has created a brilliantly shallow vision of the future. Here is a society where no one really knows what’s going on, and hardly anyone cares. Fred Duff cares, or at least thinks he does. Fred is having doubts about his almost perfect situation. For one thing, he is tired of his plum position as professional consumer. For another, he is none too thrilled with his wife’s unexpected personality shift. And that’s barely scratching the surface of his complaints.

A man can’t even be decently unemployed. And, since when did prison become a career option?

This is a social structure that has apparently taken every detail into consideration. Ever heard the expression, “If the military wanted you to have a wife…”? Well, in Weiss’ world that phrase has taken an extra twist.

A world this messed up on commercialism has not come around since Scott Grusky’s Silicon Sunset. If you haven’t taken the time to read that little gem of a nightmare, you can correct that oversight now and become completely paranoid about the future. Both novels make the kind of impression that is hard to shake — months from now, you’ll be wondering if you read it in Newsweek or in a piece of fiction. (Not that the two things are mutually exclusive.)

Before Mood Shifts is over, you will be as obsessed as Fred Duff. In the search for answers in this future the buck barely slows down; there is no stopping along the line. Where can you go to get to the bottom? Or the top? And why do you seem to be the only one bothered by this insane set-up? And if you are the only one unhappy, are you just in need of adjustment?

Mood Shifts is a riveting ride through a house of mirrors. Confusion, lunacy, and subtle threats spring up on every side. Turning aside can only make things more unfathomable. But, like any carnival ride, along with the tinge of fear there is a overpowering desire to laugh.

Go ahead. Laugh. If Weiss is right about the future, there’s nothing you can do about it, anyway.