Odds Against Tomorrow

  • by Nathaniel Rich
  • Narrated by Kirby Heyborne
  • 10 hrs and 16 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

New York City, the near future: Mitchell Zukor, a gifted young mathematician, is hired by a mysterious new financial consulting firm, FutureWorld. The business operates out of an empty office in the Empire State Building; Mitchell is employee number two. He is asked to calculate worst-case scenarios in the most intricate detail, and his schemes are sold to corporations to indemnify them against any future disasters. This is the cutting edge of corporate irresponsibility, and business is booming. As Mitchell immerses himself in the mathematics of catastrophe - ecological collapse, war games, natural disasters - he becomes obsessed by a culture's fears.
Yet he also loses touch with his last connection to reality: Elsa Bruner, a friend with her own apocalyptic secret, who has started a commune in Maine. Then, just as Mitchell's predictions reach a nightmarish crescendo, an actual worst-case scenario overtakes Manhattan. Mitchell realizes he is uniquely prepared to profit. But at what cost?
At once, an all-too-plausible literary thriller, an unexpected love story, and a philosophically searching inquiry into the nature of fear, Nathaniel Rich's Odds Against Tomorrow poses the ultimate questions of imagination and civilization. The future is not quite what it used to be.


Audible Editor Reviews

Editors Select, May 2013 - I was interested in Nathaniel Rich’s Odds Against Tomorrow because it sounded like an off-centered, dark, and altogether odd story. What I’ve read so far has proven me right, but there’s so much more to be discovered that I’m thoroughly intrigued by what lies ahead. Mitchell Zukoff is in the insurance business, and a recent catastrophe has driven a huge demand for his work. He’s good at selling fear because he himself is intensely fearful – of carbon monoxide poisoning, tidal waves, fault lines, and other disasters and their probabilities. While Rich’s tone gives a sense of impending doom, there is an optimistic lightness in Mitchell’s unusual correspondence with an old friend, and it’s this light/dark contrast that I find most interesting about the book so far. I’m also very interested to hear what narrator Kirby Heybourne does with this book, as his performances of Gone Girl and Cloud Atlas are loved by our listeners. —Chris, Audible Editor


What the Critics Say

"It is almost impossible to read this novel without indelible images of Hurricane Sandy coming to mind. The novel succeeds on its own terms in envisioning such a disaster in terrifyingly visceral terms. And Mitchell's intensely fraught journey from man of intellect to man of action is one the [listener] will not soon forget." (Publishers Weekly)
"Let's just, right away, recognize how prescient this charming, terrifying, comic novel of apocalyptic manners is...Rich is a gifted caricaturist and a gifted apocalyptist. His descriptions of the vagaries of both nature and human nature are stark, fresh, and convincing, full of surprise and recognition as both good comedy and good terror must be." (The New York Review of Books)
"This literary thriller is blessed with a propulsive plot, macabre humor, several richly developed characters, and serious ethical and philosophical issues, all lightly clothed in skillful writing. Highly recommended." (Booklist)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Quirky risk-noir

As a story, much of this is soggy and meandering. But it turns out to be enjoyable for my purposes. I'm not much of a novel reader: maybe one every 4 years. But I am immersing in serious risk management books aplenty (which audible hasn't shown much interest in producing; oh well. Exception: Nassim Taleb's works are here). What this book does for me, on my breaks from the dry risk management books, is toss the concepts around in colorful and shocking little ways and images. So it is a perfect counterpoint to my studies. This writing style reminds me much of Chuck Palahniuk (Fight Club): the author has a keen ear for technical language and concepts, and nimbly reels off strange, surreal, but plausible (possible, but extremely improbable) images and scenes via drolly reciting odd lists of sometimes banal things. It is a sort of nerd noir. Here, there are holes: the main character often does things a supposed risk management genius would see through and not do; the business dealings and legal constructs are often implausible; Manhattan finance people are not this gullible or ignorant (we can only hope). But that doesn't keep the piece from being entertaining, often just in a weird scene glimpsed inside one sentence, that may actually provoke some creative risk thinking and imagination.
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- Phil O.

Stay away

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

A re-write ....

What was most disappointing about Nathaniel Rich’s story?

The story is just soft, in one paragraph you go from one life changing decision to another without any progression or sequencing.

Have you listened to any of Kirby Heyborne’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No... The performance was good.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

Not really.

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- Holly

Book Details

  • Release Date: 05-06-2013
  • Publisher: Tantor Audio