The story begins with a view into what life is going to be like in the next century for the people of Earth. The first image described is of a rat eating away at a man's rotting leg, as he lies in mountains upon mountains of garbage. The man then decides that he is going to have to cut off his leg in order to save himself.
This however, is not the world in which the characters of the book live, this is a world created by Nathan Hoddy, an English screen-writer whose job it is to market the end of the world....
The story in set sometime in the future, it does not say exactly when, but gives the impression that it is in the not-too-distant future. The world is much different and technically more advanced, with people (especially those in the USA) frequently undergoing plastic surgery to make themselves look as beautiful and young as they desire. People play with virtual reality helmets in their spare time, and aeroplanes leave the Earth's atmosphere, wait for the earth to rotate, and land where they desire. Britain is the dumping ground for the entire world's waste.
There is no place on Earth where people can go outside for any extended period of time, without exposing themselves to millions of harmful rays.
The story is set in many countries around the world, it changes between England, the USA, Ireland, and other various parts of Europe.
Plastic Tolstoy is probably the main character in this book. Plastic is head of 80% of all the world's media and also runs the claustrosphere company. He has achieved this position of power through convincing the world that marketing is all that matters and that, beforehand, there were too many programmes breaking up the adverts. Plastic Tolstoy is the creator of “advertainment”, an extra long advert whose aim it is to capture people’s attention whilst also selling them things.
Plastic is incredibly powerful and lets everyone he can know about it. He is rude to anyone and everyone, and is good at it. He talks to people constantly in a completely sarcastic and patronising way, probably as a way of letting them know that he is the one in the position of power. For example, when Nathan Hoddy is pitching his idea to him, he returns every idea told to him with a bitterly sarcastic and aggressive reply.