The Trade Mission: A Novel of Psychological Terror

3.18 avg rating
( 186 ratings by Goodreads )
 
9780743234221: The Trade Mission: A Novel of Psychological Terror
View all copies of this ISBN edition:
 
 

On the heels of his acclaimed bestselling debut Lost Girls, Andrew Pyper brings his darkly musical language, chilling suspense, and psychological complexity to a story of survival in the Amazon jungle. On the delirious eve of the new millennium, Marcus Wallace and Jonathon Bates, two twenty-four-year-old overnight dot-com millionaires, are on a trade mission in Brazil. Their product is Hypothesys, a virtual "morality machine" that promises to help people "make the best decisions of their lives." But when the decision is made to take an ecotour up the Río Negro deep into the Amazon jungle, the Hypothesys team members are forced to make choices for themselves -- choices that carry fatal consequences. In the dead of night, their boat is boarded by paramilitaries who kill the Brazilian crew and kidnap Wallace and Bates, their two older colleagues, and their enigmatic interpreter, Crossman. Blindfolded and thrown into a pit for a prison, they must fight to find the will to survive. But when the increasingly unstable Wallace engineers a violent escape, their own natures emerge as a threat potentially more dangerous than the boundless jungle that surrounds them, or the gunmen who relentlessly pursue them. A rare combination of literary skill, contemporary insight, and outstanding storytelling, The Trade Mission is an electrifying read that confirms Andrew Pyper's mastery of psychological suspense.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

Andrew Pyper was born in Stratford, Ontario, in 1968. His first novel, Lost Girls, was an international bestseller and selected as a Notable Book of the Year by The New York Times. He lives in Toronto.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter 1

"Ladies and gentlemen, my name is Marcus Wallace, and I'd like to personally welcome you to your futures!"

This is in Brazil, but it could be anywhere.

A long conference room lit by dimmed halogen spots in the ceiling, a dozen rows of chairs, potted ferns circling the lectern. The front reserved for photographers, whose flashbulbs explode like distant artillery fire whenever one of the two people on stage makes a face or gesture of any kind. Behind them, slouching journalists scribble in notepads as they always have, or tickle laptops, as they do more and more. Then the rows of money: suits, silk shirts, Swiss watches of a price equivalent to an entry-level American sedan.

The person speaking to them is a boy. The other person on stage is a boy as well, although he hasn't spoken yet, and doesn't appear interested in starting any time soon. Instead, he sits at a small desk made out of a single sheet of clear, molded plastic (beneath it, his knees visibly jiggling within their cargo pants). He keeps his eyes squinted at a computer screen in front of him, and from time to time makes stabs at its keyboard, as though a cockroach were running back and forth across it. They are far enough apart that even from the back of the room you can't take them both in at once, so you move your eyes from one to the other. Decide that your first impression was wrong. They aren't boys at all. They are young men. But the word continues to cling to them, nevertheless. It seems right. You feel certain it will never leave them.

"Before we move on to this afternoon's presentation, I would like to introduce my partner -- God, it sounds like he's my wife or something whenever I say that! -- the real brains behind the success of Hypothesys, Jonathon Bates."

The young man at the clear plastic desk jiggles his knees more violently and raises his hand over his head in a kind of wave. A smile fractures across his mouth without him appearing to be in control of it.

"This is going to be one of the first public demonstrations of our product," the standing one says, "so we're pretty excited up here -- or down here, I should say, seeing as this is South America."

A giggle escapes from his lips, which in turn initiates a round of chortles and cleared throats from the audience. He's cute. Everyone wants to like him. They already do.

"Why are we excited? Well, it's pretty simple. We feel that Hypothesys is something that is truly going to change the way we conduct our lives. And that's not just more of the same hype you guys have no doubt been served plenty of all week. Because this isn't like the stuff you've seen all week. It's not another Internet site where you can buy groceries or books or watch porn broadcast live from a rented room in Amsterdam or get twenty-four-hour webcam coverage of some Joe Nobody arguing with his girlfriend or brushing his teeth. Hypothesys isn't about any of that. In fact, it can literally be anything you want it to be. Something you need. Your confidant. Your best friend. Your nondenominational spiritual advisor. Night or day, it will be there to help. To offer guidance about life's most diYcult questions, or even the easy ones you just feel you'd like a second opinion on. As the banner over our stall in the convention hall says, 'Hypothesys helps you make the best decisions of your life!'"

At this, the dimmed lights dim further, and at the rear of the stage a large screen glows blue. Gradually, the word HYPOTHESYS comes forward in white, a cloud taking shape in a clear sky. A jet streaks across with a roar, leaving "New Human Ethics Technologies" formed out of the dissolving exhaust behind it. Even from the back of the room you can see the encircled c asserting copyright over every one of these words.

Now the two young men are silhouettes against the perfect blue, except for pancake circles of light on their faces, spotlights following them wherever they go. They look like ghosts in a high-school play.

"Some have called our project a morality machine, but that isn't quite right," continues the young Wallace's disembodied voice. Only now, in the new darkness, do you notice how full it is, at once boyish and suggestive of experience. "Hypothesys doesn't deliver morality per se, nor is it a machine, strictly speaking. What it is, however, is a library of contemporary ethics. The process behind its development is known as collaborative filtering, but it's not as complicated as it sounds. It's just a survey, really. A big survey. One that has resulted in a collection of data that, once it has been thoroughly cross-referenced, can tell us something about the way we behave. So far, collaborative filtering is a process that has been employed for the most predictably commercial purposes. You know, the old 'If you liked that movie or CD, chances are you'll also like this movie or CD' based on the stuff other people have bought before you. Hypothesys is considerably more ambitious. It has nothing to sell but ourselves. It is who we are -- all of us together -- right now. It forms, in effect, a universal human mind."

Bates begins to work furiously at his laptop, and an animated brain appears on the screen, huge and pulsing with white bolts of electricity.

"Over the course of the past several months, we have conducted one of the most extensive studies of individual sensibilities ever undertaken," Wallace says, his spotlit head floating from one side of the stage to the other. "And we weren't asking about what color of sneakers people most like to wear, or what kind of car they drive, or whether they live in a house or a hole in the ground. In short, this was not the dead-tired market research you've all heard too much about already. We weren't interested in the market at all, as a matter of fact, but only in people's answers to hypothetical questions. Scruples. The way we decide to live our lives. Bates?"

As a buzzing swarm of static on the screen nibbles the brain away from stem to lobe, it is replaced by a shot of a crowded city street. People moving in undulating waves, half heading north, half south. It takes a couple of seconds to recognize the scene as computer-generated (it's only the slight over-vividness of digitized color that gives it away). Then you notice something else not-quite-right about it. The people are made up of men, women, old and young, skin of every graduated pigment between black and albino, a cross around one neck, a Star of David around another, a turbaned head and a veiled face. A street that had to be made by a computer because none could possibly be this perfectly representative anywhere in the real world.

"There is, needless to say, no single law that guides our actions. Our different religions, cultures and experiences shape our ethical orientations in a million discrete ways. But Hypothesys is indifferent to those distinctions. It's about what we have in common, not what sets us apart. And because the data we have collected does not take into account the identity of those who participated in its collection, it is a system that can be applied with equal effectiveness in any nation, and be relevant to any way of life. We have, in a sense, created an electronic Everyman. Or Everywoman."

Now the street scene blurs into a palette of brilliant colors that reassembles into a vision of the earth viewed from space. Different strains of shimmering, twinkly music seem to come from every corner of the room to converge between our ears. A chorus of synthetic human voices coming from the inside out. Home, they sing. Home!

Gradually, though, the planet's blues and browns and benign cloud masses become more detailed, hostile. Soon we are hurtling toward the surface.

"So how does it work?" Wallace's question cuts through the soundtrack, which has built up into a Wagnerian climax of swirling synthesizers. "Well, my friends, let's go straight into the mind of Hypothesys and find out!"

The earth entirely fills the screen in bulging 3-d and with a clap of thunder we crash somewhere in the middle of the Pacific, plummet down into the depths until the shafts of sunlight from the surface whither away and the entire conference room goes dark.

Somebody blows their nose. A goose honk in the silence.

Then a woman's face appears on the screen. As we watch, her features -- hair color, skin tone, nose length, lip shape -- subtly change so that she is never fixed. Never one woman, but an infinitely revolving carousel of women.

"Meet Camilla," Wallace says, softer now. "She has a problem. She knows something that her husband doesn't know, and she can't decide whether to tell him about it."

The woman's face fluidly morphs into that of a man. Of men.

"Camilla kissed Stephen last week. Stephen and Camilla's husband are friends, they play golf on the weekends, get together for family barbecues. But last week Stephen called Camilla and asked her to lunch. Now, this is important: Camilla felt something was strange about this. Camilla and Stephen had never had lunch alone together before. And the fact is, she's caught Stephen looking at her strangely lately. You know, giving her the old Latin lover eyes. But this is Brazil -- you all know about that!"

There is appreciative laughter at this, along with a lusty whoop from somewhere among the journalists. Hoo-ha!

"But Camilla met up with Stephen anyway. They had some wine. They had a nice time. Then, over the tiramisù, Stephen drops the bomb. 'I love you,' he says. 'I won't get in the way of your life if you don't want me to. But I just had to let you know.' Camilla feels like a kid. She feels her cheeks get hot." (The women's faces reappear on the screen, all of them blushing.) "They pay and step out of the restaurant. And right there on the sidewalk, before she knows what she's doing -- although she does, of course, she knows perfectly well -- she kisses Stephen like he was about to head off to war. We're talking passion here, people."

The face of the men returns and the women and men kiss on the lips, a pink flash of tongue visible before they meet.

"Now Camilla doesn't know what to do. She'd ask her girlfriends for advice, but they'd blab it all over the place. And as for her priest? Her rabbi? She hasn't seen those guys since her wedding. Besides, it all feels so complicated. She might just love Stephen herself. But what about the kids? And her husband? Sure, she still loves him, but quite frankly, a good deal less than she used to. Is her last chance for adventure staring her right in the face? Or is this the tough spot she's heard about, when she goes to her husband and lets him know everything so they can try to work it out together? Is her duty to her own happiness or the happiness of others? As you can see, there's a lot of factors at work here, even in a situation as common as this. Too many for one brain to handle. And this is where Hypothesys comes in."

The word RELATIONSHIPS appears at the bottom of the screen, and then, rising up from it and branching out in different directions, MARRIAGE and DISCLOSURE and CHILDREN and SEX. As the tree of words grows higher, the branches become more intricate, and eventually overlap into a single, wavering mass of dense leaves caught in a breeze.

"Camilla uses our system to sort out her problem one step at a time. She takes a good look at how she honestly feels, then enters the facts of her situation, detail by detail. She rates certain perception factors on a scale of one to ten, such as the pain she would endure if her husband left her, her physical and emotional desire for Stephen, the degree of discomfort she would experience in carrying on a long-term deception behind the back of the man she made solemn vows to years before, et cetera, et cetera. And these factors are then matched up with the responses of every other participant in the Hypothesys library. Within seconds, the system can give Camilla her answer."

On the screen, a spreadsheet appears with dozens of figures arranged in columns under the same headings that appeared at the base of the tree.

"And what do we tell her to do? Well, reading the responses is something of an art in itself -- it's not exactly a simple yes or no sort of thing -- but it's basically 'Go for it! Life's too short! But don't tell the husband unless you're sure Stephen's in it for the long haul.' Hey, it may not be the most honorable course of action, ladies and gentlemen. But it is the most true to who we really are."

The numbers on the screen skitter away, and in their place Camilla's faces reappear, nodding back in gratitude at Wallace's slender shadow before her.

"Thank you, Camilla," he says to the digital representation of womankind, then turns back to us, the broad swath of flesh and blood sitting at his feet. "And thank you all for coming. Of course, this demonstration has been only a most basic exercise of the system's capacities. Hypothesys is as complex as you are -- and only you know what that really means. So I hope you get a chance to try Hypothesys out for yourselves at our exhibition area in the convention hall -- and remember, confidentiality is guaranteed!"

Camilla disappears. The screen lulls into a fractal, one of those lines that create cities of fantastic architecture before wiping them out and starting over again. The halogen lights bathe the room in enough orange to identify us as separate heads. Wallace looks out over every one of them.

"I think we have time for a couple of questions," he says, glancing at his watch.

The journalists thrust pens, PalmPilots and index fingers into the air.

"Yes, Kevin?"

"Do you foresee any applications for your system outside that of a personal guide?"

"We're always working on things. There's been calls. The Pentagon has seen some potential for military deployments. Certain governments have shown interest in its use in policy development. NGOs, religious leadership, corporate management. Anywhere a decision has to be made, Hypothesys can be there."

"How are sales going?"

"This trip alone has been very fruitful," Wallace says, lowering his eyes in a half-second show of modesty. "Barry and Lydia, our associates on the money side of things, just yesterday sold world Portuguese rights for, well, what can I say? A significant amount."

"We hear four million."

"fou hear pretty good."

"What about the movie?"

"What's with you guys and the movies? It's like you'd all rather be working for Variety or something."

"Hey, we're all in it for the glamour, right? So what's the deal?"

"The deal is that as of two weeks ago the film rights to our joint autobiography have been optioned by Paramount. I understand that a screenplay is already under development."

"Who are they thinking of to play you and Mr. Bates?"

"Naturally, I think the twenty-million-per-movie pretty boy of the moment would have to play me. I guess we'd need two of those, now that I think of ...

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780002005081: The Trade Mission

Featured Edition

ISBN 10:  0002005085 ISBN 13:  9780002005081
Publisher: HarperFlamingo. Canada, 2002
Hardcover

9780330390415: The Trade Mission

PAN, 2004
Softcover

9780333766606: The Trade Mission --Signed--

McMillan, 2002
Hardcover

9780006392217: The Trade Mission: A Novel

Harper...
Softcover

9780750520003: The Trade Mission

Magna ..., 2003
Hardcover

Top Search Results from the AbeBooks Marketplace

1.

Pyper, Andrew
Published by Scribner
ISBN 10: 0743234227 ISBN 13: 9780743234221
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 2
Seller:
BookShop4U
(PHILADELPHIA, PA, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Scribner. Hardcover. Condition: New. 0743234227. Seller Inventory # Z0743234227ZN

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 7.65
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

2.

Pyper, Andrew
Published by Scribner
ISBN 10: 0743234227 ISBN 13: 9780743234221
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 2
Seller:
Qwestbooks COM LLC
(Bensalem, PA, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Scribner. Hardcover. Condition: New. 0743234227. Seller Inventory # Z0743234227ZN

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 7.84
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

3.

Pyper, Andrew
Published by Scribner
ISBN 10: 0743234227 ISBN 13: 9780743234221
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 2
Seller:
Bookhouse COM LLC
(Philadelphia, PA, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Scribner. Hardcover. Condition: New. 0743234227. Seller Inventory # Z0743234227ZN

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 7.84
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

4.

Pyper, Andrew
Published by Scribner
ISBN 10: 0743234227 ISBN 13: 9780743234221
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 2
Seller:
Mega Buzz
(Bensalem, PA, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Scribner. Hardcover. Condition: New. 0743234227. Seller Inventory # Z0743234227ZN

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 7.84
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

5.

Pyper, Andrew
Published by Scribner 2003-02-04 (2003)
ISBN 10: 0743234227 ISBN 13: 9780743234221
New Hardcover Quantity Available: > 20
Seller:
Ebooksweb COM LLC
(Bensalem, PA, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Scribner 2003-02-04, 2003. Hardcover. Condition: New. 1st Scrib.. 0743234227. Seller Inventory # Z0743234227ZN

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 7.95
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

6.

Pyper, Andrew
Published by Scribner
ISBN 10: 0743234227 ISBN 13: 9780743234221
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 2
Seller:
Booklot COM LLC
(Philadelphia, PA, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Scribner. Hardcover. Condition: New. 0743234227. Seller Inventory # Z0743234227ZN

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 8.03
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

7.

Pyper, Andrew
Published by Scribner
ISBN 10: 0743234227 ISBN 13: 9780743234221
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 2
Seller:
Best Bates
(Bensalem, PA, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Scribner. Hardcover. Condition: New. 0743234227. Seller Inventory # Z0743234227ZN

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 8.03
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

8.

Pyper, Andrew
Published by Scribner
ISBN 10: 0743234227 ISBN 13: 9780743234221
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 2
Seller:
Vital Products COM LLC
(Southampton, PA, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Scribner. Hardcover. Condition: New. 0743234227. Seller Inventory # Z0743234227ZN

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 8.09
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

9.

Pyper, Andrew
Published by Scribner (2003)
ISBN 10: 0743234227 ISBN 13: 9780743234221
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Sklubooks, LLC
(Clermont, FL, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Scribner, 2003. Hardcover. Condition: New. 000-204: Hardcover with Dustjacket. 293 pages. No Defects. A New, Unread Book. A beautiful copy with clean, unmarked pages. May have a minor blemish from store shelf. A Novel of Psychological Terror about Survival in the Amazon Jungle. 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 First Scribner Edition 2003. Seller Inventory # 35768

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 7.35
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.50
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

10.

Andrew Pyper
Published by Scribner (2003)
ISBN 10: 0743234227 ISBN 13: 9780743234221
New Hardcover First Edition Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Irish Booksellers
(Portland, ME, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Scribner, 2003. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0743234227

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 12.40
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

There are more copies of this book

View all search results for this book