Bald New World by Peter Tieryas Liu answers the question of what world the world be like if one day everyone in the world woke up bald. As a child, Nick Guan wakes to discover that he and everyone else in the world have lost all their hair in the middle of the night. The world governments find no explanation and a sudden call for solutions skyrocket the owners of wig companies to the positions of business moguls. As an adult Nick Guan, and his best friend Larry Chao -a wig company playboy- work together to make movies. Larry has a bad habit of spending his money and time with a different woman every week. Nick is a divorcee who is gun shy on the topic of women. The two enjoy the benefits of a future world accepting very few consequences for their behavior. That is, until Nick finds Larry’s mutilated body in the mogul’s apartment. Nick is kidnapped by an unknown source. He escapes, only to find himself naked and beaten by a group of religious zealots. After many trials he is released to find his fortune in a gambling town. As he meets those hiding in the gambling center of China, he quickly discovers that there is far more behind the scenes with the wig corporations than previous believed.
Bald New World feels like a new type of book every few pages, and strangely that is a strength; the reader never has time to get bored and finds themselves shifting continually to understand what Nick is experiencing. The book warns of the dangers of placing beauty above human safety, the loss of humanity and the dangers of becoming a religious zealot. It focuses on the complacency of human being while in a place of comfort and the tragedies it takes to shake them into taking action. The book is filled with conspiracy theories and shifting concepts, keeping the reader on their toes the entire time. Nick Guan is beaten, shot, afflicted with broken teeth, and even mind melded with a cricket. Still, the modern medical options keep him alive and attractive and the few times he prays for death the reader wonders if he is serious. The book lampoons the commercialization and packaging of modern day religion with a tv show that features Jesus in an adventure role, which appears just opposite a show about an aging prostitute who is constantly given plastic surgery to look in her early twenties.
Peter Tieryas Liu does not let up once in the book. His character is in constant physical or emotional pain, and as one character comes to say “pain is pleasure.” The book is bizarre, an exaggeration of American and Chinese culture, and yet it is enjoyable because it does not let the reader stop thinking. The book keeps the brain shifting into different directions and conclusions. Bald New World is a thinking book, but with under 200 pages it is easily read in a day. The book begs thought, and will stick with the reader for a lot longer than one reading.
Bald New World is currently available from Perfect Edge Books.