Ten teenagers. One soundstage made to look like a spacecraft. Plus a questionable scientific agency, a maniacal producer and a dozen or so corporate sponsors. What could possibly go wrong?
Told in transcripts of audio and video recordings, blog posts and other documents obtained by a disgruntled intern, Waste of Space follows an eponymous reality show. Documents show the daily power struggles, challenges and romantic trysts of the “Spacetronauts,” along with the personal confessions they’re encouraged to record, the highly edited results that appear on TV and the increasingly frantic conversations that occur among various behind-the-scenes partners.
Discerning readers might initially get frustrated by the clichés, including the show’s instant and intense social media popularity and the overt product placement. But as these elements fall away or twist in on themselves, the characters are revealed to be more than they seem. Readers will come to see that Waste of Space is a satire skewering every element it seemed at first to glorify.
Author Gina Damico, best known for her humor/horror hybrids like the recent Wax, taps into a cultural zeitgeist of advertising saturation, Hunger Games spin-offs and self-mocking tales like Joss Whedon’s movie The Cabin in the Woods. A bit of real emotional power sneaks in with the mockery, leading readers to question the lines between realistic fiction, science fiction, magical realism and parody.