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Walkaway: A Novel Hardcover – April 25, 2017
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Praise for Walkaway
“Is Doctorow’s fictional utopia bravely idealistic or bitterly ironic? The answer is in our own hands. A dystopian future is in no way inevitable; Walkaway reminds us that the world we choose to build is the one we’ll inhabit. Technology empowers both the powerful and the powerless, and if we want a world with more liberty and less control, we’re going to have to fight for it.”―Edward Snowden
“The darker the hour, the better the moment for a rigorously-imagined utopian fiction. Walkaway is now the best contemporary example I know of, its utopia glimpsed after fascinatingly-extrapolated revolutionary struggle. A wonderful novel: everything we’ve come to expect from Cory Doctorow and more.”―William Gibson
“The Bhagavad Gita of hacker/maker/burner/open source/git/gnu/wiki/99%/adjunctfaculty/Anonymous/shareware/thingiverse/cypherpunk/LGTBQIA*/squatter/upcycling culture...zipped it down into a pretty damned tight techno-thriller with a lot of sex in it.”―Neal Stephenson
“Cory Doctorow is one of our most important science fiction writers, because he’s also a public intellectual in the old style: he brings the news and explains it, making clearer the confusions of our wild current moment. His fiction is always the heart of his work, and this is his best book yet, describing vividly the revolutionary beginnings of a new way of being. In a world full of easy dystopias, he writes the hard utopia, and what do you know, his utopia is both more thought-provoking and more fun.”―Kim Stanley Robinson
"Thrilling and unexpected....A truly visionary techno-thriller that not only depicts how we might live tomorrow, but asks why we don’t already." Kirkus (starred review)
"Doctorow has envisioned a fascinating world...This intriguing take on a future that might be right around the corner is bound to please." ―Library Journal
"Memorable and engaging. ...Ultimately suffused with hope." ―Booklist
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.
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In Walkaway he tries to say that we live in an embarrassment of riches and that the 0.01% fool us into believing we need jobs and money to get stuff when if we just walk away and make things that are cool because they are cool, then we'll all have enough to eat, a place to live, and fulfilling activities to occupy our lives. Once you build something cool, someone is bound to want it, so you just walk away again and build something else. 3D printers are ubiquitous, as are plans for things to make because of the net (handwave). Of course, the 0.01% don't like people walking away, and paint them as terrorists, criminals, and all around bad people. Lots of walk away people die, but the others just keep walking away into harsher environments like a terribly contaminated asbestos and chemical spill site where the walkaways are printing their own space suits and practicing (kind of) to become Martians.
Oh, and the big breakthrough is that the walkaways discover how to record consciousness, effectively making people immortal as long as you have the server capacity and storage to run them. This pisses off the 0.01% to no end, because if that technology is available to everyone then they can't become immortal oligarchs ruling mankind forever.
Huge grains of salt are needed here, because Doctorow's people seem to be perfect communists, and I'm pretty sure those don't exist. Doctorow has substituted "people will do it because of points" with "people will do it because they'll see it's the right thing to do."
For all that he's writing about near-future dystopias, he's really an optimist.
I enjoyed the beginning of the book immensely and the end was good but the middle was much more of a slog and there were several jumps of many years that was quiet disorientating. The book itself was definitely dystopian and scary in how easily I could see our world heading that direction.
• It is not a dystopia. It is not a utopia. It is two, two topias in one!
• No nanites. Thank god!
• Final third of the novel
• Walkaways are a new and interesting character class
• For Doctrow fans (like me) it is fun to see him idea-check previous short stories and novels
• I got 27 new business ideas
• The text is primarily a delivery system for buzzwords, soon-to-be-buzzwords, and totally invented buzzwords. They come so fast, furious, and unrelenting, that the novel should be stamped with a motion sickness warning (I was frequently a little nauseous). What he lacks in quality, he makes up in quantity.
• The first 2/3 of the novel. No excitement and none of the characters wormed their way in.
• 3D printers take on some of the magical role usually reserved for nanites.
• Instead of evil military commanders with one dimension, we get evil capitalists with one dimension.
For me, Walkaway was a cross between a chat channel for Anonymous, where the cool kids invent slang to keep the noobs guessing, and a philosophy textbook. In fact, if it is any one thing, it is a philosophy parable. See the Capitalists? Bad Capitalists. Morally bankrupt Capitalists. See the people who just want to share? Good Abundance people. Morally evolved Abundance people.
For me, Walkaway was better than The Rapture of the Nerds but not as good as Makers.