Wrong Way: A Novel
For years, Teresa has passed from one job to the next, settling into long stretches of time, struggling to build her career in any field or unstick herself from an endless cycle of labor. The dreaded move from one gig to another is starting to feel unbearable. When a recruiter connects her with a contract position at AllOver, it appears to check all her prerequisites for a “good” job. It’s a fintech corporation with progressive hiring policies and a social justice-minded mission statement. Their new service for premium members: a functional fleet of driverless cars. The future of transportation. As her new-hire orientation reveals, the distance between AllOver’s claims and its actions is wide, but the lure of financial stability and a flexible schedule is enough to keep Teresa driving forward.
Joanne McNeil, who often reports on how the human experience intersects with labor and technology brings blazing compassion and criticism to Wrong Way, examining the treacherous gaps between the working and middle classes wrought by the age of AI. Within these divides, McNeil turns the unsaid into the unignorable, and captures the existential perils imposed by a nonstop, full-service gig economy.
Praise for Wrong Way: A Novel
“ A Ballardian tale of pristine corporate campuses and aspirational product marketing, Wrong Way reveals to us the very human cost of the AI future we’ve already been sold and makes us question how many lies and absurdities we’re willing to accept in order to try to feel like we belong here. Subtle and beautiful, Joanne McNeil’s masterful debut is a powerful example of what the contemporary novel can and should be in our endlessly perplexing times.”
—Tim Maughan, author of Infinite Detail
“No one understands the dark side of the gifts offered by billionaire tech gurus better than Joanne McNeil. With Wrong Way, our most prescient tech critic has turned to fiction, giving us a glimpse of a near future defined less by wondrous new gadgets and genius AI than by with the pretense of innovation slapped on ever more alienating work done by people who remain, despite everything, human. In prose at times dreamy and lacerating, McNeil shows us what’s coming, and how easily we might wind up accepting it.”
—Sarah Jaffe, author of Work Won’t Love You Back
"Wrong Way is a chilling portrait of economic precarity, and a disturbing reminder of how attempts to optimize life and work leave us all alienated."
—Adrienne Westenfeld, Esquire
"[A] sharply observed, extremely well-written novel."
"A warm beatin heart drives this smart and timely tale."