Terraform, August 24, 2015
Reviewed by Nicky Magas
At the Company, the customer is everything. At the Company, things are always bigger, always better. In “Earth’s Most Customer-Centric Company” by Kevin Nguyen, money means nothing—customer satisfaction, everything. Employment at the Company is cutthroat. If you can’t think bigger, innovate faster, or work longer, you don’t last. You disappear. You are forgotten. As the Company expands and dominates more and more of its Customers’ lives, keeping up is impossible, and the only way to reclaim anything of who you once were is to crumble all the way to the ground.
“Earth’s Most Customer-Centric Company” is the sort of story that floats on top of reality like a boat. Its hull keeps it bobbing upright in our familiar world, but all the interesting bits extend up into a universe beyond. Even without the introduction provided by the editors at Terraform it would be hard to misunderstand the inspiration for this story. The idea of a company with a monopoly on every aspect of the lives of their customers is, without naming names, a very real, uncomfortable possibility. The way the story is told in a robotic sort of first person, in which thoughts of the Company and the Customer are all that is permitted in the mind of the protagonist works very well. The literal flame of passion and eventual burnout is also a nice touch. A part of me wanted a bit more of an organic transformation at the end, though after who knows how many years of brainwashing by the Company, perhaps the final breakdown of the protagonist is an entirely suitable ending for the story.