The Company Man


The Hayakawa Covers

When Hayakawa published The Company Man, they split it into two books. In designing the covers to show some continuity, they were constructed in such a way as to form one large illustration when placed side-by-side, as seen here.










“When people ask me where Ideas come from, I explain that ideas for books are usually more than just one idea. It is a series of ideas that stick together, each too weak to support an extended writing project, but as a cluster they have all the makings of a novel. The Company Man is a combination of three ideas:

“1) When I was in college I could drive by an apartment house in the evening and notice that some lights were on, some were off. I realized that there was a story behind whether the lights were on or off and thought it would be fascinating to eavesdrop on each apartment to find out what those stories were.

“2) This led to a notion about a surveillance expert who from a distance ended up falling in love with the wife of his next target… a person he knew would be doomed. I thought there would be quite a bit of dramatic frission in such an idea.

“3) I saw a TV interview with my brother-in-law who at the time was fighting cancer. He talked at length about how he felt betrayed by his body since he had been an athlete and had trusted his body to do what he asked of it. I began to wonder what would happen to someone who, after a number of years, found out that he had essentially put his trust in the wrong thing. Like the company he worked for.

“And that’s how Andy Birch was born.

>”P.S. My brother-in-law beat the cancer, is now a successful father, husband, deacon in the Church and surgeon. He is also head of the trauma department at a local hospital. He is known for his empathetic bedside manner.”


Locus Award Nominee – Best Novel

A Locus Recommended Novel

Nebula Awards Preliminary Ballot

“What makes this a better book than most is the real growth in the characters… a book worth the attention of those who like spy thrillers with a little extra.”

“On one level, The Company Man is a violent, exciting, snapping-good suspense yarn. On another, it’s a worrying premonition of a future that doesn’t seem all that far-fetched.”

“Joe Clifford Faust’s moral universe is that of the idealistic movies from the 1940′s, films like Casablanca and The Best Years of Our Lives. Faust develops his moral theme through a plot so full of action, mystery and suspense that the novel is unputdownable.”


“This scene was from the first novel I ever started to write, which was abandoned after 50 pages. Years later, when I was writing The Company Man, I came to a scene where three people meet in a cafe. Realizing I had already written the scene I needed, I went to my files and salvaged what follows. The lesson? Never throw anything away.”

Excerpted from The Company Man by Joe Clifford Faust. Copyright © 1988 by Joe Clifford Faust. Reprinted by permission of the author; no part of this excerpt may be reproduced without permission in writing from the author. The text in this excerpt is taken from the author’s final draft copy and may differ slightly from the published version.


Interior illustration from Hayakawa edition

One of the many interior illustrations from the Japanese edition of The Company Man

He stepped in and the heavy scent of hot grease and coffee turned his empty stomach. Unzipping the Radsuit, he sat at the counter.

A young waitress appeared from the kitchen, carrying an empty tray, a menu, and a damp rag. She put the tray on a shelf, wiped the counter in front of Birch, and handed him a menu.

“Morning,” she said curtly.

Birch looked at her. She was harried, and was letting the name tag smile for her. It read “Good Morning!”, and the ‘o’ in ‘morning’ was a happy, rising sun. Below that was her name, handwritten; Lucy.

“It’s afternoon,” he replied, opening the menu. “Does the sun ever shine in this town?”

“It shines,” Lucy said, laying down a napkin. “You here for coffee or lunch?”


She gave him silverware. “The sun shines all the time in the summer and most of the time in the winter. Something has to make the dust.”

“I’ve yet to see it.”

“You don’t want to,” she told him. “It gets everywhere. Not even the humidifiers get it all out.”

“I’ve heard.”

“Be thankful for the snow while it’s here. Pretty soon it’ll be dry and grey.” She took a pad from her apron. “You want water? It costs extra.”

Birch ran his tongue across the front of his teeth. “Yes,” he said. “Something to wash the dust out.”

Lucy smiled. “You’re new here.”

“It shows?”

She nodded. “Don’t worry. It’s only supposed to be like this another thirteen years. Then the environmental recovery companies will supposedly be caught up with all of the mining that was done out here.”

Birch sipped the water she had set before him. “Thank heaven for the fuel farms.”

“It’s a trade off. We won’t have dust but we’ll still have the stuff that corrodes windows.”

“So for now you’re stuck with both.”

“And the place continues to disintegrate. What’ll you have?”

He gave her his order and she disappeared into the kitchen. Birch decided that the place was nicer than it looked. It was around two o’clock, and the afternoon lunch trade had long since parted. There were a couple of women chatting over coffee; someone in a business suit, obviously with his Grade One, reading a tabloid and slowly chewing a roll; and a stoner occupied a corner booth, trying to focus on his orange juice long enough to pour it down his throat.

The chimes from the vacuum sounded, and a man with a three-day beard stepped in. He dusted himself off and looked around the cafe.

“Is this a beautiful day or what?” he proclaimed to everyone present.

Lucy rolled her eyes. The man walked to the counter and straddled the seat next to Birch.

“Well, hello!” he smiled. “And how are you this fine day?”

Birch sipped water. “Fine.”

“That’s great to hear. I feel pretty wonderful myself. Did you know that this is a wonderful place?”

“Tell me about it.”

“He’s new here, Jack,” Lucy told the man. “He’s not privy to your secrets.”

“Well, well.” He extended a grubby hand. Birch shook it. “Jack Lime. Jack short for Jackson, not short for John. Doesn’t make sense, does it? Jack short for John? Just as many letters, takes as long to say. And what are you calling yourself today?”

Birch looked at him sourly. “Ivan,” he said.

“Ivan. Good corporate name. You’ll go far with that one.”

“I’d be happy with a Grade Three.”

“Be happy with what you’ve got. That’s the key to life, Ivan. I lived in City work district for thirty-four of the most miserable years of my life. Most days you couldn’t walk down the street without an airmask. Old people would croak on the street, airmask or no.”

Birch frowned. “That doesn’t sound like the City I know. What part are you from?”

“Madhattan,” said Lime. He laughed at his own joke. “Get it?”

“Manhattan’s improved,” Birch told him.

“Well it wasn’t when I was there, and I had it good. I had a Grade Two and I worked for the power company. Then one day I realized we were putting the stuff in the air that was killing people.

“I decided I was committing suicide by working there, so I packed up and tried to lendlease a steve. I couldn’t get one, so I loaded into an old ICV and started out. I didn’t get too far because I drove right into the Appalachian Uprising.”

“Careful,” Birch smiled. “Your age is showing.”

“Age.” Jack Lime laughed. “I was your age then, and they tried to conscript me. Can you believe it? They put a gun in my hand and told me I was a soldier. I told them that I didn’t blame the Appalachians for being tired of raping the ground to get coal. So they took my car. Some corporate general needed it for a command vehicle.

“Well, I stayed around for a couple more months hoping that the situation would resolve, but the Appalachians had dug into the mountains and nothing short of divine intervention was going to bring them out. I was about to lose my Grade Two because I hadn’t worked in so long, and I still didn’t have my car. Finally I told them what they could do with my Grade Two, and I got out of that place.”

“To where the dust is,” said Birch.

“So long as I’m not putting it in the air, I can deal with it,” Lime explained. “It wasn’t my idea to screw up the environment. I was for everyone knuckling down and suffering until the Synthetics companies got the ball rolling. A little hardship makes you grow, gives you character. But people had gotten too soft. They wanted to travel and they wanted their microwaves and holographic projection screens.”

“So now we’ve lost our character,” Birch said.

“Absolutely,” Lime agreed.

Lucy appeared from the kitchen with two plates. She put one before Birch.

“Damn, you’re a cute little thing,” Lime said.

“She’s taken,” Birch said quickly. He picked up a fork and cut into an egg.

Lucy blushed. “You don’t have to protect me from Jack,” she explained. “We’re old friends.” She put the second plate in front of Lime. “The usual.”

Lime thanked her and looked at Birch. “I should be protecting her from you,” he said, “but I won’t. It looks like your instincts are in the right place.”

“I hope so,” he answered, sipping coffee.

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