Brooklynite’s inventive novel imagines ‘A Highly Unlikely Scenario’

Brooklyn-based writer Rachel Cantor has created a whole new world in her debut novel — a humorous and playful science fiction story called “A Highly Unlikely Scenario: Or, a Neetsa Pizza Employee’s Guide to Saving the World.” Published in January by Melville House, Cantor’s novel imagines a future in which fast-food delivery companies dominate society; Medieval Kabbalists, Latter-Day Baconians and librarians attempt to gain control over secret mystical knowledge; and book clubs represent radical movements. Cantor’s book has earned rave reviews, already boasting comparisons to the work of Ray Bradbury and Kurt Vonnegut.

“A Highly Unlikely Scenario” follows Leonard, who works comfortably as a “Listener” at the Pythagorean pizza chain Neetsa Pizza, handling the restaurant’s complaints, which average 12 calls per hour. Neetsa Pizza treats its employees well — as a Listener, Leonard is supported through “innovative aptitude testing, exhaustive training, thoughtful supply of easy-to-use Pythagorean materials, provision of periodic ‘refresher’ updates.”

Leonard works hard and enjoys his routine, until one day his life is disrupted by strange phone calls from Marco, and a mysterious absence of the usual complaints. Marco claims to be a thirteenth-century explorer, and begins calling Leonard several times each night.

Soon, Leonard is propelled to navigate the outside world for the first time — his journey bringing him through an intricately bizarre land of time travel, medieval manuscripts and pizza toppings.

Image courtesy of Melville House