Kirkus' Best Fiction of 2017
From New York Times bestselling author Cory Doctorow, an epic tale of revolution, love, post-scarcity, and the end of death.
"Walkaway is now the best contemporary example I know of, its utopia glimpsed after fascinatingly-extrapolated revolutionary struggle." —William Gibson
Hubert Vernon Rudolph Clayton Irving Wilson Alva Anton Jeff Harley Timothy Curtis Cleveland Cecil Ollie Edmund Eli Wiley Marvin Ellis Espinoza—known to his friends as Hubert, Etc—was too old to be at that Communist party.
But after watching the breakdown of modern society, he really has no where left to be—except amongst the dregs of disaffected youth who party all night and heap scorn on the sheep they see on the morning commute. After falling in with Natalie, an ultra-rich heiress trying to escape the clutches of her repressive father, the two decide to give up fully on formal society—and walk away.
After all, now that anyone can design and print the basic necessities of life—food, clothing, shelter—from a computer, there seems to be little reason to toil within the system.
It’s still a dangerous world out there, the empty lands wrecked by climate change, dead cities hollowed out by industrial flight, shadows hiding predators animal and human alike. Still, when the initial pioneer walkaways flourish, more people join them. Then the walkaways discover the one thing the ultra-rich have never been able to buy: how to beat death. Now it’s war – a war that will turn the world upside down.
Fascinating, moving, and darkly humorous, Walkaway is a multi-generation SF thriller about the wrenching changes of the next hundred years…and the very human people who will live their consequences.
At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
In Cory Doctorow’s imagined near-future, the land is scorched by climate change, cities are abandoned by industry, the super-rich are close to attaining immortality, everyone uses computers to make food and clothing, and the fabric of society is unravelling. Sound plausible? It should: Doctorow layers in enough recognizable technology—3D printers, drone strikes—to give his meticulously constructed sci-fi world some pretty logical antecedents. Sound bleak? It shouldn’t: Walkaway is far more interested in how a crisis can bring out the best in people, prompting acts of extraordinary bravery and kindness. Ultimately, Doctorow’s dystopia is an optimistic one.
Doctorow (Homeland) expects more patience for superfluous eccentricities than many readers may be able to provide in this unengaging novel set in 2071. For example, his opening sentence begins with the name of a character ultimately referred to as Hubert, Etc., whose full name is 22 names long because his parents decided, for no logical reason, to give him as his middle names the "top twenty names from the 1890 census." There's also awkward prose ("The beer was where the most insouciant adolescents congregated, merry and weird as tropical fishes"), odd phrases that sound clunky rather than plausibly futuristic ("authoritarian enclobberments"), and goofy aliases (Gizmo von Puddleducks, Zombie McDingleberry). Collectively, these authorial indulgences along with underdeveloped world building and unmemorable characters serve mainly to distance readers from his creative premise: a near-future where the rich are on the verge of achieving immortality, a development that one character fears spells the "end of morality," and rebels, known as walkaways, attempt to create a functioning gift economy.
I didn’t finish it, but it’s still a good book.
I’ll be blunt, I stopped about 1/2 through the book. Having said that I enjoyed the premise, and the way Doctorow can hand wave futuristic technology is superb. I thoroughly enjoy his short stories. One one hand you fully accept the background tech and micro cultures that he’s created. The way in which he presents an evolution of modern society, while making it seem commonplace is great. It’s a difficult task that most futurist authors struggle with. On the other hand I got a little tired of how introspective everyone is, and the amount of tell-don’t-show, regarding people checking their privilege and wokeness, is exhausting. Perhaps if we heard from the other side, and there was a convincing argument, I would have felt slightly torn and more engaged. I’m not voting for the 1% to win but painting them the devil is such a faceless way doesn’t make for engagement. It reads more like a political manifesto from the Twitter-verse than a plausible storyline. I’m also in my 40s so my unconscious bias is flaring. Enough buzz words for ya? Still I believe it deserves 4 stars and people who enjoy a large amount of inner dialogue will find the different characters very interesting. I just didn’t have the patience to wait for a bit more energy to enter the plot.
A great read about the philosophy of greed and selfishness intrinsic to the human species. It comes also with a possible solution to the "Selfish Gene". Uplifting and thought provoking, it suggests we can be so much better as a species. Thoroughly recommended.
Really enjoyed this
Engaging characters, intriguing ideas, and cool tech.