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Going, Going, Gone Hardcover – April 27, 2001

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Futurist wunderkind Womack (Random Acts of Senseless Violence) concludes his heralded Ambient series with this intriguing, clever novel set in an alternate, semihistorical 1968. Some details are familiar: the Velvet Underground is playing small New York City clubs; hallucinogenic drugs are popular and potent. But a Republican, Henry Cabot Lodge, has been president for years, and all African-Americans in the country have been deported, forcing those with any black heritage to keep it disguised. Drifting through this alternate universe is Walter Bullitt, a drug experimenter who talks like a beatnik crossed with John Shaft: "I cooled on my slab till roostertime" translates roughly as "I slept until dawn." Bullitt takes on occasional blackbag operations for the government dosing unsuspecting citizens with drugs in order to observe the results but has second thoughts when he's asked to prevent the upstart Robert Kennedy from running in the presidential election. As he's mulling over the Kennedy job, things begin to get weird: he sees ghosts, he's invited to join a cult, and a bizarre pair of women hijack him for unknown purposes. In short order, Bullitt finds himself at the center of a time/space crisis that threatens to destroy at least two different worlds. Although his hero's vernacular may annoy some readers, Womack has crafted a fast-moving, hipper-than-hip science fiction novel meshing the exuberant wordplay of Anthony Burgess with the high-concept what-if history Philip Dick made famous with The Man in the High Castle. (Mar.) Forecast: This final, top-notch Ambient installment has the potential to generate considerable crossover appeal while satisfying old fans. Those in the know will correct anyone who tries to call this cyberpunk lit no "cyber" is involved but readers of William Gibson should gravitate toward Womack.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

It is 1968. President Lodge, who succeeded the assassinated President Nixon in 1963, won't be seeking reelection, and one of the Kennedy brothers seems poised for the Democrats' nomination. Some sharkish business types seek the services of New York hipster Walter Bullitt, who actually works for the government in exchange for unhassled enjoyment of all the recreational pharmaceuticals he desires. Walter is a natural for what he is asked to do, but he balks because of the Kennedys' well-known penchant for vengeance. He accepts only after freelancing disappoints and he has met a curious short-tall pair of women whose speech is even stranger than Walter's patois. That meeting is the luckiest event of Walter's life. What with Walter's lingo, lots of juicy pop-cultural references (Walter collects old "race" records--a dangerous hobby in an America that has wiped out all blacks--and hangs out at Max's Kansas City to hear the Velvet Underground), and plenty of sf-cum-noir action, the sixth and last of Womack's alternate-world Ambient yarns is highly entertaining. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Series: Ambient Series
  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press; 1st American ed edition (April 27, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080211685X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802116857
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.8 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,363,925 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By "jaylimmo" on April 6, 2001
Format: Hardcover
And so I found myself holding this book in my hands, this book I've been waiting for three years to read, not wanting to start it because I knew it was the last time I'd be entering this amazing universe that Jack Womack spins out of thin air.
Yes, I know, I'm a geek. Onwards.
The book starts in the alternate world first seen in TERRAPLANE, in 1968. Walter Bullitt is a pharmaceutical expert who puts his knowledge to nefarious use for the government, and spends his spare time collecting 78 RPM blues discs. While trying to avoid accepting his latest assignment, he starts seeing ghosts that he can't ascribe to his extracurricular chemistry experiments. Then he bumps into two females who have been sent by Dryco to...well, buy the book and find out!
What can I say, like all the Dryco books, it starts out weird and then just keeps turning corners that you don't see coming until your head starts to spin. Walter Bullitt is now one of my favorite characters from the whole Dryco mythology; his hipster narration makes GOING, GOING, GONE perhaps the most enjoyable read in the entire series.
A few recurring characters from previous books appear. It took me a moment to figure out who the ghosts were, but when I did I had to put the book down, I was so pleased. Amazing.
The ending of the book was so very unexpected and satisfying. The last chapter, "In the New World," won't make sense to anyone who hasn't read the five previous Dryco novels, but to those who have, you're in for such a treat. ( The bit about ALICE had me fall out of my chair laughing. ) The last sentence of the book -I won't tell you who it is about, but it redeems their life in the simplest of ways. I almost started crying. ( But geeks don't cry, dammit! )
So. That's that.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 3, 2003
Format: Paperback
Sort of...
Womack's style is so unique, I might suggest re-reading each book upon completion. His "vernacular" is so compelling, I actually find myself emulating it in e-mails to my friends (and perhaps his prophetic truncated style of speaking is an extrapolation of "e-mail-speak"). This book (or any of the books in the series, for that matter) are not suggested reading for the optimistic sort. He has as bleak an outlook of post-apocolyptic Earth as any author I've read, yet his vision also seems to be the most realistic. His works reap the seeds that our society is presently sowing, and he does it with STYLE.
While our government was fooling around with MK Ultra, Womack's more perverse parallel universe finds an accelerated plan far more sinister, even if it isn't fully explained. No need! He leaves enough room for you to plug in your own worst fears.
Sadly, I picked up "Random Acts" for a buck at a book surplus store (It was also, incidentally, an ideal place to start the Ambient series). While it was a great value for me, I find it unfathomable that Womack isn't as widely accepted as Frank Herbert. His vision is just as lucid, and, like Herbert's "Dune" series, I envy anyone who gets to experience it for the first time themselves...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on June 12, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This novel demonstrates again Jack Womack's amazing talents, especially with language. One of the strongest aspects of the novel is the clash of the protagonist's hip talk with the Dryco-speak of his visitors.
However, I did not quite like this novel as much as the others in the series, and I definitely would ot recommend it as the first Womack novel to read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John Kwok HALL OF FAME on December 20, 2011
Format: Paperback
Jack Womack's "Ambient" series of alternative history/time travel science fiction novels may be unknown to many unfamiliar with science fiction and fantasy, but to those in the know, like his friend William Gibson, Womack's definitely a first-class high-wire literary act, carving out his own niche as one of the most distinctive voices in contemporary American science fiction literature. He's blessed with an economy of style and a keen ear for dialogue that, in lesser hands, would be mediocre pulp fiction, not the subversively serious literature that's been his oeuvre. Womack's "Ambient" novels are a notable addition to the alternative history science fiction genre; an often subversive exploration of class and racial tensions set in an America whose destiny is being shaped by the enigmatic Dryco corporation; with a most resounding note, this great series closes with "Going Going Gone". In 1968, Walter Bullitt, a part-time Federal employee, is recruited to sabotage Bobby Kennedy's Presidential campaign. Instead, he finds himself joining forces with two mysterious women who want him to save his New York City - and theirs - plunging into a fast-paced odyssey run amok in guns, drugs and time travel. Readers beware. Hold onto your hats, since this is a journey where Womack truly takes you where no one has gone before.
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