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Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town Paperback – May 30, 2006
A network of beacons allows ships to travel across the Milky Way at beyond the speed of light. The beacons are built to be robust. They never fail. At least, they aren't supposed to. Learn more
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Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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This may all sound eccentrically creative on Doctorow's part, but the problem is that these weird characters and bizarre backgrounds are simply presented as a given, and never actually explained. Are they supernatural demigods, weird mutant freaks, aliens, or what? Their function in the world of regular humans is never explored, nor is there any explanation for the supporting characters who know their secrets (Krishna) or can accept them without judgment or questioning (Kurt). Also, the characters go about their actions with no underlying motives or motivations being made clear to the reader. This problem applies especially to Mimi and the evil brother.Read more ›
Part of it was the feeling that the book was padded by lectures on the viability of wireless networks or the internet v. cell phones inserted solely to pad out the work and give Doctorow an opportunity to share his thoughts on the subject at hand. Which is fine when I'm reading an article or his posts on his blog or at BoingBoing, but in the novel they brought the story to a screeching halt. One moment I'm reading two characters discussing coffee, the next is a three page Socratic dialogue on the nautre of some gadget somewhere.
But mostly I never really felt that I was reading characters, just mannequins who were constructed and (barely) fleshed out so Doctorow could put them through their paces as he needed them. That's the nature of fiction, of course, but the characters that grip me have more to offer the story than the necessary plot coupons or Maguffins. These were mannequinsm artlessly brought into and out of the story as required. I never felt they had any inner life or any glimmer of personality that I would want to read about outside of the story.
The one exception was Mimi, who had a particularly juicy series of secrets to tell, but even she came and went seemingly at the author's whims.
I finished the book to finish it, not because I really cared. Much like Doctorow's other work, it had a strong start that was lost in the face of its own cleverness. I'd suggest giving this one a miss.
Alan (Andy, Adrian) is the son of a mountain and a washing machine, and he has seven brothers. Alan (Alex, Andreas) is the oldest, and also the one who can pass for human the most easily and comfortably. In fact, only gradually do we learn that there's anything unusual about him at all, except for his parentage and his casual attitude about what name he gives people-as long as it starts with "A". Billy (Bob, Ben) can see the future, Carlo is an island, Doug (Danny,) was a perfectly human-appearing monster until his brothers killed him (which hasn't slowed down his career much), and Ed, Fred, and George are nesting dolls. Alan got his early-childhood care and education from the golems provided by his father, the mountain, and then discovered school and the library. After a childhood attempting to raise his brothers (except for Carlo) with decent educations and the ability to blend in to human society, and after a truly horrific experience ending in the death of Doug, Alan takes off on his own. When we meet him, he's a middle-aged, semi-retired entrepreneur living in Toronto, renovating the house he just bought and getting acquainted with the college-age neighbors next door.
His illusions of normality are about to take a nasty hit.
On the one hand, he's getting sucked into a new project, making free wireless internet access available to the neighborhood, the city, and eventually the world. On the other hand, his brothers, Ed, Fred, and George come to visit, with the news that Doug, whom they thought was safely dead, is back and coming after them. And on the third hand, the kids next door aren't as normal as they look, either.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It starts out real good, a man is renovating his new home and the author is adding a boatload of details on how it is done. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Lars
So this was pretty cool. Dark, creepy and completely absurd. The sex scene was hot even though (maybe because) he focused on her wings. Read morePublished on November 22, 2013 by Amazon Customer
Just as its bifurcated title might suggest, Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town is really two books whose connection is never quite as clear or as strong as you might want. Read morePublished on August 3, 2012 by Josh Mauthe
No matter how cool Doctorow's blog articles etc are, I just can't get myself to read a book where so many stylistic liberties are taken. Read morePublished on January 24, 2011 by A. Chow
Parts of this book are so well written that I had to force myself to put the book down and do something else. Read morePublished on September 21, 2010 by GDMF
At around fourteen, many of us feel like alienated weirdos. We can't communicate with our parents, our younger siblings are annoying, and our relationships with our age-peers... Read morePublished on January 16, 2010 by Robert Murphy
Cory Doctorow's "Someone comes to town..." suffers from a case of split personality. On the one hand, it is a mysterious and engaging urban fantasy that takes several original... Read morePublished on August 10, 2009 by Irate Reader
Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town
For me, a novel that changes the way we think about the world is a good novel, but one that changes the way we act--for... Read more
I really liked Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, and some of Doctorow's short stories, so I was looking forward to reading this book. Read morePublished on February 11, 2009 by Amazon Customer