Michael Tolkin: NK3

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In Michael Tolkin's NK3 (Atlantic Monthly Press), the North Koreans have tested a weapon called NK3, the third iteration of a weaponized nano-bacterium designed to confuse South Koreans. The test has inadvertently spread around the world. As a result, the world has lost its memory. The impact spreads to Los Angeles, the setting for Tolkin's tale. People not only forget their names but also what they know, such as computer codes and how to use machines. The loss of memory causes euphoria as trauma and anxiety dissolve. The city's elite is composed of those who have been sufficiently rehabilitated to be able to use their motor skills. Now the former working class of electricians and plumbers live protected behind a 60-foot wall in the center of Los Angeles. Those left out become aimless drifters. Tolkin reveals that the novel was partially inspired by Burning Man. Does his dystopian story suggest a pre-Apocalyptic world we may already be headed towards?