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The book takes place in an Alternate Universe just prior to the invention of the internet... making it a prequel to the Max Headroom series.

TV takes over the world, reading is illegal, human life is devalued as high-stakes entertainment becomes the norm. The implied World War III at the end of the book sets the stage for the deteriorating conditions in the television show.

The movie is a prequel to The Invention of Lying.

With the libraries gone, in particular all fiction, people start having a maniacal respect for basic facts. Truth was whatever was immediately seen, heard, or sensed, anything else was suspect. Books might be allowed back, in particular after the destruction of WWIII, but only as a means of storing facts. (The low-tech nature of a book would make it more accessible than the more-difficult-to-repair computer.) People had no desire how to imagine and, once the cities were rebuilt, had forgotten how.

This book was a major reason for suburban sprawl in Real Life.

The cities in the book were compact entities. The book ends with World War III and an Apocalypse How.

Now, the sort of surgical strike at the end of this book simply cannot happen if there is suburban sprawl. So, patriotic property moguls who read the book but didn't care if anyone else read anything built and marketed suburban developments as a patriotic duty.

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