The Scheme for Full Employment

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 11 April, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 11 April, 2004, 12:00am

The Scheme for Full Employment

by Magnus Mills

Perennial $108

A subtle satire about bureaucracy and what happens when people are more concerned with documenting their productivity than actually producing things. The Scheme is a make-work project, which ran for 30 years in Britain, in which UniVans pick up and unload spare parts for other UniVans. This activity doesn't actually contribute to the economy, but it does keep a lot of people off the jobless lines. The story is narrated by a nameless UniVan driver. He realises The Scheme isn't producing anything, but feels that's outweighed by the fact that it's such a smooth-flowing system. When some of the drivers go on strike, the whole thing threatens to fall apart. Mills' ideas are sharp, but there's no depth to the characters, almost nothing happens and his minimalist prose means the book, rather like The Scheme, falls flat.