Competition published on May 5, 2017.
Hubert, Seth and Natalie are way too old to be at a Communist party. But in a world wrecked by climate change, in a society owned by the ultra-rich, in a city hollowed out by industrial flight, they have nowhere else to be and nothing better to do.
But there is another way. After all, now that anyone can design and print the basic necessities of life – food, clothing, shelter – from a computer, there is little reason to toil within the system. So, like thousands of others in the mid-21st century, the three of them turn their back on the world of rules, jobs, the morning commute and … walkaway.
It’s a dangerous world out there, the empty lands are lawless, hiding predators – animal and human alike. Still, when the initial pioneer walkaways flourish, the thousands become hundreds of thousands, building what threatens to become a post-scarcity utopia. But then the walkaways discover the one thing the ultra-rich have never been able to buy: how to beat death. And now it’s war – a war that will turn the world upside down.
Walkaway by Cory Doctorow is a multi-generational SF thriller about the momentous changes coming in the next hundred years: an epic tale of revolution, love, war, and the end of death.
*We have a copy of the book to give away – scroll down for your chance to win!*
Reviewer Ian Simpson bagged an early copy and told us what he thought:
In Cory Doctorow’s new novel, Walkaway, a society is fractured into haves and have nots. The have nots have chosen that life, and some of them it seems get to live forever. What is a walkaway? In this story, someone who abandons normal society and literally walks away. With nothing. And subsists within a gifting economy – everything freely given and nothing required in return. A utopia where you expect nothing in return for your efforts.
We’re in the near future and the rich are richer and more powerful than ever. Hubert and Seth meet Natalie at a party – where the disaffected young party all night and pour scorn on those they see on the morning commute. Except Natalie is the daughter of the ultra-rich and over-protective Jacob. They decide to walk away, and they meet Limpopo; a natural leader but one who rejects hierarchy. In this future, everything (food, clothes, tools, even medicine) can be 3D printed and society is tolerating these walkaway communities. Just about. Life can exist because everyone acts altruistically. Which is anathema to the ultra-rich elite. Jacob wants his daughter back. Meanwhile, at a walkaway university, researchers and mathematicians have been able to download the consciousness of a dead colleague into a computer. Is this immortality in a utopian society?
Cory Doctorow knows what his subject is and who his readership are. The writing is excellent, if occasionally incomprehensible, because he writes in techno-hacker counter-culture lingo. Which is fine if you’re aware of the rules of the game. There is plenty of wit and comic satire if you can dig beneath the jargon. There is plenty of humanity’s darkness explored, especially in the relationship between Natalie and her father, but there is always hope that everything will work out.
The story itself is fine, although is a tad repetitive: sitting around talking about political and ethical philosophy followed by a violent attack, someone dies and is put in the computer, move on; and repeat. The characters are all interesting with multiple motivations. The good guys are all about love and tenderness and equality – there is gender and sexuality fluidity and every leftist and liberal ideology discussed. There is so much detail it almost blows the mind. Meanwhile, the bad guys are shades of grey. Jacob is motivated by both greed and misguided emotions for his daughter.
Proper science fiction this. A warning of our times. An investigation of what it means to be a human today and where the future might take us. What immortality might look like and how it affects the psyche. A look at the science of today and of tomorrow. And in the vein of many a classic science fiction novel, can a utopia ever work? A few tweaks with the plot would have made me happier. Those who follow Doctorow’s sharing/hacking/fluid cultural ideologies will get a great deal from this book. Those not familiar, I imagine, will struggle. Not for everyone, but spot on for the few.
If your reading group wants to explore science fiction and likes a challenge it sounds like this could be just the thing.
We have a copy of Walkaway to give away – for your chance to win, simply fill in the form below:
The Competition is closed.
About the author
Cory Doctorow is a co-editor of Boing Boing and a columnist for the Guardian, Publishers Weekly, and Locus. His award-winning novel Little Brother was a New York Times bestseller. Born and raised in Canada, he lives in Los Angeles.
Cory will be touring the UK to promote Walkaway for a week, from the 22 May – find tour details here
Walkaway by Cory Doctorow, published on 25 April, 2017 by Head of Zeus, in hardback
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YA: The Mysterious Librarian by Dominique Demers