Megan Harlan
August 01, 1997 AT 04:00 AM EDT

After creating the Ecstasy Club — a drug-experimenting, computer-hacking utopian society in an abandoned Oakland factory — 26-year-old Zach explains, ”All those breathy cyber-books of the early nineties tried to explain the notion of ‘designer reality,’ but we were really going to live it.” Douglas Rushkoff, a $7,500-an-hour consultant to media bigwigs on Gen-X proclivities, ponders, with a marked lack of irony, big media’s threat to alternative culture by siccing a slapstick-silly mind-control conspiracy on club members. Sacrificing story believability for stoner paranoia, Rushkoff’s first novel feels as artificial as a designer drug. C+

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