BOOKS: Making A Killing: An End-Of-The-World Black Comedy

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July 1996:

Making A Killing: An End-Of-The-World Black Comedy
by William M. Johnson.
The Book Club Guild (25 High Street, Lewes, Sussex, U.K.); 1996.
382 pages, 15 pounds. (U.S. price not yet announced.)

The world’s high muckety-mucks—thinly
disguised caricatures of Ronald Reagan, the
Pope, the British royal family, and various
minions—hold a summit on strategy to save
the world, in politically troubled but picturesque
Caribbean San Pimente.
Through a series of painfully protracted
scenarios, we are informed that the game plan
is sustainable exploitation: conserve the plants
and animals that humans find economically
useful, and let “nature take its course” with
the rest, even if it means extinction. The more
monetarily useful plants and animals will be
“made to pay their own way,” as profits from
their harvest and use go toward sustaining
them, and of course to genetically designing
better and more productive breeds.

Unknown to everyone, the animals also
attend this meeting, wondering what the flatfooters
have in mind for them. For that matter,
the earth itself decides to find out what’s going
on. So, finally, poof! the earth decides to preserve
itself. It sends out plagues of bacteria
that eat only synthetic material; it stirs up
storms, tidal waves and floods, melting the
polar ice caps, and, in the wink of an eye,
turns humans into the endangered animal.
It’s a lenghty way of saying all of our
complex, greedy plans eventually come to
naught. What’s most unfortunate is that the
deus ex machina ending offers no real hope,
no insight into how we can extricate ourselves
from our mess. By taking the responsibility
out of our hands, Johnson pretty much says
there is no way out, that the best we can hope
for is that the earth rises up in righteous wrath
against us. Call it Pre Millenial Syndrome.
Such a viewpoint does us no favors. If the
earth decides not to cooperate and still keeps
merrily rolling along for the next few decades,
then what will we do with the sleezeoids and
money-grubbers who are busy pulling out all
the support beams? Johnson outlines a lot of
the problems before us, then just dumps
everything into a black hole.
––P.J. Kemp

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