Paperback

Published: Lightning Books (August 2021)

ISBN: 9781785632402

The End of the World is Flat

Simon Edge

£8.99

‘A bracingly sharp satire on the sleep of reason and the tyranny of twaddle’ – Francis Wheen

Mel Winterbourne’s modest map-making charity, the Orange Peel Foundation, has achieved all its aims and she’s ready to shut it down. But glamorous tech billionaire Joey Talavera has other ideas. He hijacks the foundation for his own purpose: to convince the world that the earth is flat.

Using the dark arts of social media at his new master’s behest, Mel’s ruthless young successor, Shane Foxley, turns science on its head. He persuades gullible online zealots that old-style ‘globularism’ is hateful. Teachers and airline pilots face ruin if they reject the new ‘True Earth’ orthodoxy.

Can Mel and her fellow heretics – vilified as ‘True-Earth Rejecting Globularists’ (Tergs) – thwart Orange Peel before insanity takes over? Might the solution to the problem lie in the 15th century?

Using his trademark mix of history and satire to poke fun at modern foibles, Simon Edge is at his razor-sharp best in a caper that may be more relevant than you think.

Extracts

From her doorway, Mel Winterbourne watched Shane, her deputy, with interest. He was waiting impatiently next to the printer, shifting from one foot to the other and grabbing each page as soon as it appeared, virtually pulling the paper from the rollers, rather than letting it drop into the output tray. Mel had worked in an office environment long enough to spot a colleague printing documents on the sly.

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Extracts

From her doorway, Mel Winterbourne watched Shane, her deputy, with interest. He was waiting impatiently next to the printer, shifting from one foot to the other and grabbing each page as soon as it appeared, virtually pulling the paper from the rollers, rather than letting it drop into the output tray. Mel had worked in an office environment long enough to spot a colleague printing documents on the sly.

She’d been trying to wean herself off teasing him, but he presented too easy a target. She set off for a casual walk around the office. Focused on his task, he didn’t notice her sidle up behind him. A few inches from his ear, she said softly: ‘Printing out your CV, Shane?’

His entire body jerked with shock as he spun to face her, the blood rushing to his cheeks. He was half a head shorter than Mel, stocky, with cropped hair and a full Victorian beard.

‘No,’ he said. He grabbed the papers he’d printed so far and clutched them to his barrel chest. ‘It’s just…erm…a report.’

‘Honestly, it doesn’t bother me either way,’ she said. ‘There’s no law against applying for jobs.’

‘But I’m not app…’

She turned away, brushing off his denial, so he couldn’t see how much amusement her ambush had given her. She wished she could see him squirm, but she’d have to make to do with the mental picture.

Mel meant what she said: she wouldn’t have the slightest objection if he looked for another job. No reflection on his abilities: Shane Foxley was the perfect deputy: competent but unthreatening. Rather, the simple truth was that, if he found another job, she’d feel less guilty about her plan to shut the whole place down.

The same went for the whole team, presently hunched over mobiles or tapping quietly at keyboards. When she was their age, office life was all personal phone calls and yacking; this generation was so much more earnest and diligent. She really did wish them well, and it pained her to have to let them all go.

They would hate her for it, of course, but she’d never cared about popularity, and in the end they’d all be fine. In its twenty-year life, the Orange Peel Foundation had set a benchmark for effective single-issue campaigning, and other employers would fight over its staff. They would all get a decent severance package, too. That was the least Mel could do for them.

quotes

‘In between punching the air and shouting “yes!”, I laughed so hard I nearly fell in my cauldron. A masterpiece’

Julie Bindel

‘A bracingly sharp satire on the sleep of reason and the tyranny of twaddle. Simon Edge reveals how extraordinary delusions have the power to captivate us – until, one by one, we start coming to our senses’

Francis Wheen, author of How Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered the World

‘A highly-entertaining satire about ideology, social media manipulation, and lobbying fiefdoms that have overstayed their welcome. This is Animal Farm for the era of gender lunacy, with jokes - and, right now, we all need a laugh’

Jane Harris, author of Sugar Money

‘A satire that skewers the insanity of gender-identity ideology with the wit and brilliance of a modern-day Swift’

Helen Joyce, author of Trans: When Ideology Meets Reality

‘Without mercy, this merry romp punctures the idiocy that would turn language and good sense upside down and try to divide us all into either true believers or bigots. It is a frightening reminder of what happens when we reject the power of dialogue’

Simon Fanshawe

‘This book is very, very funny. It’s also way too convincing as a horror story – Simon Edge writes a completely believable account of how this kind of ideology could seep into great institutions. And possibly, in another form, did’

Gillian Philip

reviews

‘Simon Edge – a voice of sanity in the Twitter hellscape – wears his anger remarkably lightly as he skewers the shocking state of the trans rights row with some nifty, often snort-inducingly funny satire’

The Times

‘InspiredEdge has glorious, madcap fun…doing what Aristophanes thought poets should do in circumstances like these: save the city from itself. He holds social foibles and cod science up to ridicule with grace, wit and charm’

Helen Dale, The Critic

‘This witty author mixes history with a hilarious spoof of identity politics, virtue signalling, cancel culture and Twitter pile-ons’

Saga Magazine

‘Well-crafted, humane and engaging. For the committed gender critical crowd, in-jokes punctuate every page. But the work is more than a clever jab at trans ideology; it stands alone both as a modern morality tale charting one man’s descent into lies, and a warning about the vulnerability of the liberal values upon which modern society rests’

Jo Bartosch, Lesbian & Gay News

‘In a refreshingly pointed reflection on the zeitgeist – a light-hearted lampoon, underpinned with wit and intelligence – Edge crafts an entirely conceivable plot, a parody that is awkwardly close to reality’

Yorkshire Times

‘Wonderful. A must-read for all’

Julian Vigo, Savage Minds

‘This very, very interesting book about the flat-earthers of the world’

Mike Graham, Talk Radio

‘Turns out I’ve been proven wrong: the world is not beyond satire. I know this thanks to Simon Edge and his very funny book’

Jonathan Kay, Quillette

‘A fabulously crafted piece of work, so biting and pertinent and thoroughly entertaining from the first page to last. The humour is pitch perfect. This is a masterclass showing how shallow the online world can be'

Books and Me *****

‘An interesting study of how an agenda, however outlandish, can replace the truth through the erosion of trust in accepted facts. Sharply observed, highly entertaining, funny and too believable’

Babbage and Sweetcorn

extras

‘Flat-earth beliefs are not so far from today’s fashionable pseudoscience’ – Simon Edge explores the context of his novel for Tortoise.

‘In writing The End of the World is Flat, the first novel to explicitly take aim at transgender ideology, Edge has taken a significant step – not just in literature but in history...’ Jo Bartosch interviews Simon Edge for Lesbian and Gay News.

Novelist and critic Helen Dale champions The End of the World is Flat on Talk Radio TV.

Simon discusses the real-world context for The End of the World is Flat with Jonathan Kay on the Quillette podcast and also with Julian Vigo for her Savage Minds podcast.

ABOUT

Simon Edge

Simon Edge was born in Chester and read philosophy at Cambridge University.

He was editor of the pioneering London paper Capital Gay before becoming a gossip columnist on the Evening Standard and then a feature writer on the Daily Express, where he was also a theatre critic for many years. He has an MA in Creative Writing from City University, London, where he also taught literary criticism.

He is the author of five novels, all published by Lightning Books: The Hopkins Conundrum, longlisted for the Waverton Good Read Award, The Hurtle of Hell, A Right Royal Face-Off, Anyone for Edmund? and The End of the World is Flat.

He lives in Suffolk.

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