Swiftopia by Ryan Starbloak

Swiftopia book

“Swifties were once human. They had a limited understanding of language. A swiftie would be able to respond, they just wouldn’t be able to do so in a conventional manner. The last time the group was up against swifties, the swifties spoke entirely in Taylor Swift lyrics.”

Do libel laws and basic manners not apply when a public figure reaches monstrous proportions of fame? If Taylor Swift does take issue with her presentation as a sexist dystopian overlord, what’s she trying to hide?

In his ass-covering author’s disclaimer, Ryan Starbloak admits he isn’t a Taylor Swift fan, but he isn’t picking on her in particular either. She was just the most convenient symbol at this point along the production line to embody his frustrations with the disproportionate reach of ‘popular’ music over the many, many alternatives out there. (It helps that her name sounds a bit like the ‘dis’ in dystopia too… sort of).

Not many people would argue with the anti-corporate sentiment, at least not the sort of intelligent, well-rounded people who read books. It’d make a pretty funny short story. But to extend it to a novel (even quite a short one), Starbloak must have been really annoyed.

“All towns and cities were warzones. The album had dropped, and its spread made it too risky. They believed it wouldn’t be long before they were found and were forced to listen to it too.”

It’s fairly clear that the agenda came before the desire to write a generic zombie survival story. It may be an earworm turning regular people into grotesque caricatures of fans, but there’s nothing else to set this apart from countless Walking Dead knock-offs. If it’s supposed to be a parody of the genre, he forgot to put in any jokes.

At just 100 pages – a lot of that being taken up by necessary exposition – there isn’t time to get to know the ensemble enough to start caring about them. And why should we bother, since convention dictates that most of them aren’t going make it?

While the actual story may be a flimsy hook to hang a grievance on, it’s the world-building interludes that are more impressive. The author-singer-songwriter gets so caught up in his alternate future history, he actually writes the lyrics for the imagined Taylor Swift songs that caused this whole apocalyptic mess. He plans out the tracklist and album concept and everything.

Getting more into that side of things would have been great. Not every book has to be young adult dystopian fiction, any more than all music should be Taylor Swift.



Swiftopia Book Cover Swiftopia
Ryan Starbloak
October, 2016


"Don't sing along."

Set in a soon-to-be future, Taylor Swift employs hypnotic beats, subliminal messages, and catchy lyrics in favor of quality, thoughtful, mature music that had been anticipated from the aging pop star. The majority of the world's population is transformed into denizens of the woman.

After she takes over the world (now referred to as Taylearth), desperate survivors still in control of their humanity eke out their existence waiting to be hunted down by roving gangs of ravenous swifties bent on turning them into mindless zombies like them.

But when one of their own falls deeper into a life-threatening illness, a young girl named Leigh Flanagan descends from her mountainous hideaway with her group in order to save the man who may be immune to the effect of Taylor Swift's dangerous recordings.

"Swiftopia" is a dystopian satire that likens the ubiquitous state of pop music in our daily lives to a horrific zombie apocalypse.


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