7 Chillingly Evil Corporations in Literature


Rachel Cantor’s debut novel, A Highly Unlikely Scenario (Melville House), will appeal to fans of Kurt Vonnegut, Ray Bradbury, and Douglas Adams, with its fusion of science fiction and literary fiction. The book’s plot, which concerns a future where fast food corporations run the world, is deliciously weird enough to work in its own warped way, walking the line between straight fantasy and fiction.

Can you imagine a world where Burger King really is the king, where Papa John is Big Brother, or where Colonel Sanders was worshiped as a deity? It might seem farfetched, but in a real world where some corporations earn more than some entire countries, and employ armies of workers, the idea might be more plausible than you think.

In A Highly Unlikely Scenario, the book’s protagonist works for Neetsa Pizza — a new bizarre corporation to add to the following list of the most memorably insane big businesses ideas in fiction along with these other six.

InGen from Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park

What can go wrong when a billionaire decides he wants to play God by recreating the DNA of dinosaurs so he can show off the resurrected creatures in a family-friendly theme park? That sounds like a really great idea.

Dylar from Don DeLillo’s White Noise

Great idea for a pharmaceutical company: a pill that makes people lose their fear of death. There’s no way that would make patients do horribly stupid things! Dylar sounds like it would really do wonders if it hit the market in real life.

Any corporation in any William Gibson book

Whether we realize it or not, William Gibson’s work has influenced the way we look at and talk about big corporations, just as Orwell and Huxley gave us a new way to look at (and worry about) big governments. The “megacorporations” (a term Gibson popularized) in his books are bad news, and bear enough resemblance to our current business landscape to serve as a warning for the future.

CHOAM from Frank Herbert’s Dune

You thought corporations running everything was restricted to this planet? Herbert famously imagined an entire universe where one entity controls the economy of the entire cosmos.

Stephen King’s North Central Positronics

Something that we’ve learned from reading science fiction and fantasy is that you really can’t trust corporations that produce a) weapons and/or b) robots. Both of these things are horrible for humankind, as this company from King’s Dark Tower series demonstrates.

Yoyodyne from Thomas Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49

Anything that comes from the mind of Thomas Pynchon is going to be a mix of warped postmodern genius and harsh truth, and as we’ve learned in the age of of military-industrial complex, there are few corporations as horrible as the ones that handle defense contracting.