Read an Exerpt From Nino Cipri’s Defekt

Changing the World, One Room at a Time!

Welcome back to LitenVärld, the multi-dimensional big box furniture store first explored in Nino Cipri’s surrealist world-hopping adventure, Finna. We’re thrilled to share an excerpt from the standalone sequel, Defekt—arriving April 20th from Tordotcom Publishing.

Derek is LitenVärld’s most loyal employee. He lives and breathes the job, from the moment he wakes up in a converted shipping container at the edge of the parking lot to the second he clocks out of work 18 hours later. But after taking his first ever sick day, his manager calls that loyalty into question. An excellent employee like Derek, an employee made to work at LitenVärld, shouldn’t need time off.

To test his commitment to the job, Derek is assigned to a special inventory shift, hunting through the store to find defective products. Toy chests with pincers and eye stalks, ambulatory sleeper sofas, killer mutant toilets, that kind of thing. Helping him is the inventory team—four strangers who look and sound almost exactly like him. Are five Dereks better than one?



Welcome aboard!

We are so pleased that you have joined us on this journey.

As a Special Exempt Employee, you are on the forefront of an exciting new era at LitenVärld. We are living in an exciting time of big changes. We couldn’t do this without you. We are grateful to you, and expect that the feeling is mutual.

At LitenVärld, there is a place for everyone, and we want to help you find your place—then make it good enough that you’ll never want to leave. This handbook is both a map and a compass. It’s meant to orient you and help you find your way. It contains all of the information and resources you’ll ever need to succeed, but you are allowed to talk to your Resource Management representative in the unlikely event that you want anything else.


Table of contents

  1. The LitenVärld Universe™ and Your Place Within It: How it all began, and how this is going to go.
  1. Orienting Our Own Moral Compass: We’d be lost without it!
  1. Known and Unknown Risks: Acting fast is always better than acting slow, but it’s not without its risks. Luckily, our employees are adept, adaptable, and quick to learn how to mitigate them.
  1. Shortsight and Farsight: Do we know where we’ll be in five years? Thirty years? Do we know what we’ll be facing tomorrow? Next month? Is there any point at all in thinking about future consequences? Or should we treat every moment like it’s something to be conquered?
  1. Expecting the Unexpected: A boring chapter about personnel policy. No real surprises here. ;)
  1. There Is No Escape… From Fun! Are you ready to get this party started? Well, this party was going for a long time before you got here, and will continue long after you leave. Here’s how to enjoy yourself in the time you have.
  1. When “Don’t Be Evil” Fails, Try “Don’t Be Boring”: It’s worked for us since 1958.
  1. Changing the World, One Room at a Time! How to build a revolution in thirty-two easy-to-follow steps. Complete with diagrams!
  1. The Journey Never Ends: It’s not the destination that matters! Time and distance are illusions!


Our Corporate Values

1) Change is the only constant.

We are constantly looking not just ahead, but up and down, side to side, and around corners. You never know what new strangeness will be waiting for you on the other side of this moment.

Change is often uncomfortable, until it isn’t anymore.

As a member of the LitenVärld family, your job might not always be pleasant, comfortable, or easy. By taking this job, you agree to step out of your comfort zone. We are not looking for acceptable people, or even good ones—we are looking for the extraordinary. Working for LitenVärld means working in an ever-changing flux. You already know if that is something that thrills you.

2) The worth of loyalty cannot be measured… but it can be rewarded.

Once you are through your employee orientation, you will enter the exciting, intersecting worlds of LitenVärld. Those that thrive here find a culture that is diverse, welcoming, and completely unique. Many are surprised to learn that our retention rate for the first year of employment is low. Those that do stay, however, find themselves less and less likely to leave over time. Your standards will change; your view of the world, your expectations of reality, your desires and dreams and personality.

To succeed at LitenVärld, you must allow yourself to be shaped by LitenVärld.

Becoming a part of our family may not be easy, but it’s a richly rewarding experience.

3) Innovation over everything.

Change is a constant, and we must always be willing to shift with it, but company innovation means learning to shape change to our benefit. We expect our employees to constantly strive for improvement—not just for themselves, but for LitenVärld and the larger world.

From The LitenVärld Special Employee’s Handbook



Changes to normal operations: Special Inventories

It will occasionally be necessary to conduct a special inventory on your store’s goods. These are not the same as the biannual inventory, which is an overtime shift undertaken by non-exempt hourly employees.

Your manager will be responsible for calling in the Special Inventory to corporate, but if you observe any of the following in your store, you should immediately communicate them to your supervisor. (For further definitions of these phenomena, consult the appendix.)

  • Missing items that cannot be explained by theft or inventory mismanagement
  • Unexplained blood, bile, or other bodily effluvia
  • The sound of breathing
  • The feeling of a persistent presence when you know you are alone
  • Unidentifiable molds, fungi, or pests

If nothing is done and the problems persist, please use the special hotline listed at the end of this page, and your report will be heard. False reports will be investigated and may be punished by verbal warnings, written warnings, loss or reduction of seniority and other benefits, unpaid leave, suspension, or termination.



—From The LitenVärld Special Employees Handbook



Leadership lesson:
Are your outcomes CLEAN?

When setting goals for your team, remember that the outcomes you’re shooting for should be CLEAN.





Not obviously illegal

Circumscribed: Make sure that there are limits on your ambition! Our resources are, in fact, finite, and we need to make sure our priorities are taken care of.

Bad: “We will stop wormholes from appearing in our stores and occasionally losing our customers and employees in them.”

Better: “We will equip every store with the technology to find customers lost in wormholes and recover employees who didn’t walk off the job.”

Lofty: While we want you to stay realistic, we don’t want you to let go of ambition altogether!

Bad: “Research and development will process new discovered technologies from other universes and report back on them to the Board of Directors quarterly.

Better: “Research and development will seek out disruptive new technologies from other universe that could revolutionize the retail industry, and report them to the Board of Directors quarterly.”

Economical: Remember our bottom line! How is your outcome going to contribute to it?

Bad: “We will improve employee morale and retention through appreciation programs.”

Better: “We will improve employee morale and retention through appreciation programs, except in positions where high turnover will be more cost-effective in the long run.”

Assignable/Accountable: Who’s ultimately in charge of this outcome? Is it out of your hands? Make sure that someone is accountable for ensuring this outcome!

Bad: “Resource Management will roll out the new D-64598 program as soon as they can and will communicate with managers in participating stores about expectations.”

Better: “Reagan in Resource Management will be the point person on rolling out the new D-64598 program in time for Q4. Managers at participating stores will be responsible for ensuring that their stores hit projected savings in labor costs.”

Not obviously illegal: Use your best judgment here!

Bad: “We will create a pyramid scheme to get LitenVärld Universe members to sign up their friends and family to a monthly subscription lifestyle program.”

Better: “We will create a multi-level marketing plan to increase LitenVärld Universe membership, by encouraging existing members to sign up friends and family to a monthly subscription lifestyle program.”

Postscript: While we always want your outcomes to be CLEAN, remember that members of the LitenVärld family are never afraid to get their hands dirty!

—From The LitenVärld Managers and Supervisors’ Handbook



Checking in! How harmonious are you?

The LitenVärld family believes that individual voices create the most beautiful music when singing together. A single off-key note can ruin the harmony, and that’s never truer than when it comes to our special exempt employees.

If you’re reading this, it’s because someone has raised concerns about your performance that might suggest a potential discordance. This is nothing to worry about! Feedback is a necessary part of growth.

Please rate the following questions on a scale from one (this is not at all true for me) to five (I agree wholeheartedly and unambiguously).


  • I am happy and fulfilled in my work and life.
  • I relish the chance to do better at my job.
  • Most of my waking thoughts are devoted to improving the performance of my teammates and managers in any way I can.
  • My greatest ambition is to be an exemplary employee.
  • I do not dream. My mind is unclouded.


  • I am in perfect physical health.
  • My body does everything I or anyone else needs it to do.
  • I sleep well and wake refreshed, ready to start the day.
  • I have never experienced any of the following: illness, injury, hallucinations, phantom limb pain, personality changes, sudden hemorrhaging, or inexplicable subdermal growths.


  • I lack nothing.
  • I am grateful that I exist at all in this chaotic universe filled with random chance.
  • I am lucky. So lucky.

If you find yourself answering anything below a 4 (strongly agree), and especially if you experience any signs of illness, injury, hallucinations, phantom limb pain, personality changes, sudden hemorrhaging, or inexplicable subdermal growths, call the following number immediately and await further instruction.

—From The LitenVärld Special Employee’s Handbook


Excerpted from Defekt, copyright © 2021 by Nino Cipri


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