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Corporate Gunslinger

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  196 ratings  ·  66 reviews
Doug Engstrom imagines a future all too terrifying—and all too possible—in this eerie, dystopic speculative fiction debut about corporate greed, debt slavery, and gun violence that is as intense and dark as Stephen King’s The Long Walk.

Like many Americans in the middle of the 21st century, aspiring actress Kira Clark is in debt. She financed her drama education with loans
ebook, 320 pages
Published June 16th 2020 by Harper Voyager
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Average rating 3.69  · 
Rating details
 ·  196 ratings  ·  66 reviews

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Lauren Stoolfire
May 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, western, dystopia
I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Corporate Gunslinger by Doug Engstrom is a near future dystopian satire featuring corporate greed, crippling debt, and gun violence. I had no idea what to expect, but it's well-worth reading. There's a lot that happens in this fairly short book and I don't want to give anything important away with spoilers. I will say though that it's quite thought-provoking and feels freakishly all too plausible. If that isn't a depressing though
Jun 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The nitty-gritty: A tense, fast-paced futuristic thriller that was almost impossible to put down.

I love finding well written debuts, and I’m happy to say that Corporate Gunslinger is now on my list of favorites. I don’t usually make “blank meets blank” comparisons when I’m reviewing books, but in this case I have to go with “ Docile mee
Brian Mcclain
Corporate Gunslinger is a different take on a dystopia ruled by greed and debt slavery. The scary thing is for most of the novel everything seems within the realms of possibility except the extraordinary thing, and that is the gun-fighting part. Our main character Kira is in debt, and she's left with the same choices as many in this novel: slavery, death, or killing. They train with robots and then on behalf of the same company they're indebted to start killing others. Yeah... so since she's not ...more
Joe Campbell
Ending isn't an ending

Book isn't bad. I greatly enjoyed everything until the ending. No spoilers, but there's no resolution to the story and I hate books like that.
Jun 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: giveaways
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Karen A. Wyle
Sep 01, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm rounding up a little.

The premise of this novel is, IMHO, highly implausible. However, when I put that issue aside, I liked this book very much. The alternating, converging timelines were quite effective, simultaneously keeping suspense high while showing step by step what brought Kira into this world, what it did to her, and how she dealt with those effects.

Several other characters -- in particular Chloe, Kira's roommate, and Diana, her mentor -- were well developed. Only antagonist Nils is
Reid Edwards
Mar 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Corporate Gunslinger is a great example of a SF novel that adds one tweak to modern society as commentary. Engstrom does a great job of normalizing the actions of the gunslingers, walking you step by step through the training (and indoctrination) of his protagonist, Kira. The world around her slowly fills in, as she sees more and more how the actions of the gunslingers and the corporations they protect shift the societal narrative. There aren't any points at which the reader couldn't imagine the ...more
Jasmine Banasik
Another one of my dollar tree risks and I enjoyed this one a lot more. I almost gave it four stars.
It was an enjoyable read and I had fun, but I don't think it was the biting critique it was meant to be. I didn't find Kira to be overly sympathetic nor did I dislike what she became to pay her debts. Trying to explain that it was desperation that drove Kira to killing didn't work when it was all tell and no show. Removing her debt to a fake currency of unidollars also made it feel less daunting b
Feb 09, 2021 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
An engaging world and great lead characters are dragged down by missing pieces. The plot flashes forward every other chapter to a fateful duel, which eventually loses its tension as the scene keeps pausing, and the story continually skips forward in time with no explanation. The leads develop and reveal their backstories, which are well done, but don't feel earned because we've barely spent time with them. And it's all capped off with a disappointing ending. ...more
This review originally published in Looking For a Good book. Rated 5.0 of 5

Thank you, Doug Engstrom! Corporate Gunslinger is a tremendously unique, remarkable literary experience.

Kira Clark is an aspiring actress. She has financed her education through loans. And with acting being what it is, she borrowed just to pay rent or to pay the premium on her school loans. with debt compounding, Kira faces a grim reality. Her loans were secured with a 'lifetime services contract' - meaning if she default
May 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the Best Books I’ve Read This Year!

This review really took me some time to digest what to say after finishing this book! There is just so much going on in this book that I would say that is a not too far fetched near future social commentary. Doug Engstrom knocked this debut out of the park!

I really do not want to divulge or say too much pertaining the book in order not to dole out spoilers. However, the setting takes place in a near future-like society where the rich thrive, and the one
May 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science-fiction
One of the Best Books I’ve Read This Year!

This review really took me some time to digest what to say after finishing this book! There is just so much going on in this book that I would say that is a not too far fetched near future social commentary. Doug Engstrom knocked this debut out of the park!

I really do not want to divulge or say too much pertaining the book in order not to dole out spoilers. However, the setting takes place in a near future-like society where the rich thrive, and the ones
Bill Cook
In the 21st century, nothing is affordable, and insurance is a farcical mirage. Claimants either succumb to debt traps—having binders installed over their spines—or they dispute arbitration in state-sanctioned gun duels.

Corporations train and employ professional gunfighters to represent them against these desperate citizens.

Kira Clark enters a gunfighter training program to manage a lifetime services contract. If she graduates and completes a 36-kill contract for TKC Insurance, she can p
May 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
In this, not too distant future, being in over your head in student debt could lead to a lifetime of servitude, which is what Kira Clark's MFA in the theater was going to do for her. Signing up for training as a corporate gunslinger, in a world where customer service is handled on a dueling field, seems like the lesser of two evils, thanks to a signing bonus that keeps her out of slavery.

The staying alive part is more problematic.

Kiri's acting comes in handy, as she throws herself into the role
Catherine Schaff-Stump
Oct 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I should clear the air by mentioning that I received a copy from this author because I know him.

Engstrom's Corporate Gunslinger is a treatise on capitalism run rampant in the Iowa insurance industry of the near future. For those of you who don't know, Des Moines, Iowa is one of the insurance capitols of the western world, and the political commentary of something this nuanced is significant. In the dystopian world Engstrom creates gunslingers who solve problems for corporations against claimant
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mark Cofta
Aug 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This near-future thriller was a pleasant surprise! Engstrom jumps right into the action, feeding us the story's final scene in short chapters spliced throughout the book with gunslinger Kira's story from her first day of training. This fast-moving, suspenseful read doesn't pause to deliver exposition, but it's not difficult to imagine how society could develop to the extremes Kira struggles through, especially if the reader has ever been in high-interest credit card debt or financially wiped out ...more
Pamelah Antoine
Jul 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
Hi, I wish I did have a spoiler to tell me the end. It was so vague, it left me disappointed. The author used a style of writing that I'm not to comfortable with. He would italicize conversations that I thought were dreams of Kira's the main character. Then I thought maybe it was something else. I hate to be confused when I'm really trying hard to give a book a chance. I didn't really want to read the book as I'm scared of guns, however it looked short enought that it would not take too much tim ...more
Christopher Owens
Corporate Gunslinger is described as dystopian satire. The book is set in Iowa sometime in the middle of the 21st century, roughly 20 to 40 years from now. The dystopian elements are not far removed from current American society: individuals can secure debt by entering into ‘personal services’ contracts, putting every aspect of their lives under corporate control if they default on the debt. If legal disputes cannot be resolved in arbitration, the parties settle matters via gunfight. Leaving lit ...more
Meagan Houle
Jun 25, 2020 rated it liked it
I'm a Canadian with a rudimentary understanding of guns and gun culture. I don't know why people like them, I've never engaged in any kind of sport shooting, and I find myself baffled by people who consider gun ownership to be an essential contributor to their quality of life. I don't necessarily judge them for it, but it's always mystified me.
With that in mind, I probably missed a lot of the nuance in "Corporate Gunslinger," because it was satirizing a culture I don't know very well. I'm sure t
Heather Warner
Wow, this is quite a grim book. A futuristic America lives by corporate greed, crippling personal debt that consists of literally signing up for slavery to get a loan, legalized gunfights, and casual violence. Kara had gotten a loan to pay for her college and old medical debt on her parents and now she can’t pay. She can either become a slave or become a gunslinger fighting for insurance companies against citizens who refuse to accept arbitration (which pretty means the insurance company refuses ...more
Daniel Pappas
I wanted to like this book more than I did. A strong world building first half seemed poised to deliver quality storytelling in the second half. A narrative device like a big finale threads the whole story together but holy shit is that deeply unsatisfying to make it a central plot point you return to again and again between flashbacks only to not resolve it entirely. What message the author intends here gets muddied by failing to resolve the story’s entire arc. It’s not enough of a character st ...more
Kathleen Gray
Jun 13, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting. Kira, mired in student debt, takes a job as a gunslinger for an instance company. In this dystopian scenario, those who can't pay their debts have the option of a duel- if they win, they win, if they lose, well, they're dead. You could compare this to Hunger Games but it's not that at all. Kira, who has an MFA, finds a mentor in Diana at the training academy and creates a menacing personal. That doesn't prepare her, however, for the reality of what she's doing. Engstrom has set this ...more
Donna Schoening
Oct 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
This fast paced, excellently written novel would’ve been a 5 star rating for me, but the ending was so ambiguous that it ruined it. The book is set in the not so far away future where debts are settled either by debt slavery or going up against a professional gunslinger to settle the score. While there were parts that were graphic, a warning at the start of the book was sufficient. Kira is a young woman in tremendous debt who decides to become a gunslinger herself to help pay off her debt. The d ...more
Amanda F
May 22, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2022-books-read
This book was so good, and I'm not even sure why. :) I loved the perspective we got on corporations and how they seem to not care about the individual and just make policies that only benefit themselves, and I loved the point of view of the individual who finds herself so far in debt that she can't envision a life past the payments and who has no choice but to go work in a job she doesn't want for a company she disagrees with because she feels like she has no other choice. All of that is in this ...more
Aug 16, 2022 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can see where the author was going with this book I really can… but I just didn’t care much for it. Now that doesn’t mean I didn’t like it. I received the book from a blind date with a book package, dystopian worlds just aren’t my thing and I still gave it a shot. The book itself was fine the characters developed slowly throughout the entire story and some things didn’t get answered til the end. I wasn’t fond of the cliff hanger ending considering this book was a novel but I guess you as the r ...more
Jun 18, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A reasonably quick and well-written read, this is the tale of Kira, a professional gunfighter, who is deeply in debt and takes up gunfighting to pay off her debts. The premise is good but the action (and there is a lot) is confined to Kira training to be a gunfighter and then killing to settle corporate lawsuits. That part is action packed and a breeze to read through (which is why you can do it in an afternoon). But the part that is missing is any worldbuilding. There is not much about why the ...more
Vinay Badri
Jul 10, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020-read
You know the cliche - when you are about to die, your whole life flashes in front of your eyes

This is pretty much what happens when our lead prepares for a gun fight to death - her whole history kind of flashes by interspersed with the actual combat

I found the ideas in the book rather interesting - the growth of companies that thrive on people's debts, eps those who are unable to pay them and the ways in which they try to feed society's appetite for blood sport. The corporate gun fighter element
Feb 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
In this universe, corporations rule and screw with you any chance they get. Anyone who cannot pay their debt becomes a corporation slave and get told what to eat and what you can or can not do, or you could try to win in a traditional gunfight against a professional gunfighter.

The main character signs up to become a professional gunfighter and we go through her whole journey of completing the required amount of fights and the ups and downs of what that lifestyle is like. I really enjoyed it.

I d
Michelle Hauck
Jul 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science-fiction
What an interesting take on our culture. It's not too huge a jump to see people deep in debt being forced into corporate labor. Or people being desperate for favorable arbitration and insurance payouts that are being denied. The idea of settling financial disputes with a winner take all gun battle is a very clever turn on how our society and legal system values corporations over people.

I have to hand it to the author for making Kira still likable and relatable after she starts killing people to
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Doug Engstrom has been a farmer's son, a US Air Force officer, a technical writer, a computer support specialist, and a business analyst, as well as being a writer of speculative fiction. He lives near Des Moines, Iowa with his wife, Catherine Engstrom. ...more

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“Don’t think we’ve had a moment in here and made a connection. We didn’t. And don’t think the pretty girl won’t kill you. I will.” 0 likes
“Kira removed one of the pseudoguns from its mount. She checked the safety, opened its action, and held it out with the barrel pointed down. “Here.”

Don glared at her, but he didn’t move.

She kept her arm extended. “Either take this thing or admit you haven’t got the ovaries to handle it.”
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