From the acclaimed author of The Gone-Away World - an adventure story, a war story, and a love story, all wound into one brilliant narrative that runs like clockwork.
Shortlisted for the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Science Fiction Literature.
Joe Spork, son of the infamous criminal Mathew ‘Tommy Gun’ Spork just wants a quiet life, repairing clockwork in a wet, unknown bit of London.
Edie Banister, former superspy, lives quietly and wishes she didn’t. She’s nearly ninety and the things she fought to save don’t seem to exist anymore. She's beginning to wonder if they ever did.
When Joe is asked to fix one particularly unusual device, his life is suddenly upended. The client? Unknown. The device? A 1950s doomsday machine. Having triggered it, Joe now faces the wrath of both the government and a diabolical South Asian dictator, Edie’s old arch-nemesis. Joe’s once-quiet world is now populated with mad monks, psychopathic serial killers, scientific geniuses and threats to the future of conscious life in the universe. The only way he can survive, is to muster the courage to fight, help Edie complete a mission she gave up years ago, and pick up his father’s old gun...
In Harkaway's endlessly inventive second novel (after The Gone-Away World), Londoner Joe Spork has turned his back on his late father's mobster legacy and become instead a clock repairman. Asked by a friend to fix a complex old machine, Joe finds himself inexplicably pursued by shadowy government agents, a rogue sect of technophiliac monks, a suburban serial killer and an identity-shifting Asian drug lord called Opium Khan. As Joe races to discover the true purpose of the machine, he learns that the answer might lie with elderly Edie Banister, a superspy during WWII. Edie's flashbacks to her war adventures are easily the most diverting aspect of this book, but in no way overshadow Joe's frantic search to uncover the truth about the machine, a doomsday device that turns out to be linked to his family history. With the fate of the world in his hands, Joe realizes that the only way to save the planet might be for him to embrace his father's gangster heritage. Perhaps inspired by the New Wave science fiction of Michael Moorcock, the London crime novels of Jake Arnott, and the spy fiction of John le Carr (the author's father), the novel ends up being its own absurdist sendup of pulp story tropes and end-of-the-world scenarios. Although the narrative often threatens to go off the rails, Harkaway makes his novel great fun on every page.
I loved the world created from the very first chapter. Memorable characters and scenes that live with you long after you finish. Can't think of another book quite like it. Creative brain food at its finest.
Stylish old-school adventure that absorbs from start to finish.
I absolutely loved Nick Harkaway's debut novel, The Gone Away World, and was eagerly awaiting the follow up. I found this book desperately disappointing. Ultimately the characters were unconvincing (too many of them spoke in the same knowing kind of way - everyone seemed to have the same affectation of calling the lead character by his full name); the story muddled and the style, in my opinion, clumsy. I'll think twice about buying his next, but I would recommend you look us his first!