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Walkaway Hardcover – 25 Apr 2017

3.6 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Head of Zeus (25 April 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1786693054
  • ISBN-13: 978-1786693051
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 4.5 x 15.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 57,871 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Review

'Doctorow has authored the Bhagavad Gita of hacker/maker/burner/open source/git/gnu/wiki/99%/adjunct faculty/Anonymous/shareware/thingiverse/cypherpunk/ LGTBQIA*/squatter/upcycling culture and zipped it down into a pretty damned tight techno-thriller with a lot of sex in it' Neal Stephenson.

'The darker the hour, the better the moment for a rigorously imagined utopian fiction. Walkaway is now the best contemporary example I know of. A wonderful novel' William Gibson.

'A hard-edged, intelligent look at our immediate future and the high and low points of human nature, incisive, compelling and plausible' Adrian Tchaikovsky.

'Doctorow is one of our most important science fiction writers ... 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.

'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.

'A beautifully done utopia, just far enough off normal to be science fiction, and just near enough to the near-plausible, on both the utopian and dystopian elements, to be eerie as almost programmatic ... a sheer delight' Yochai Benchler.

'Takes the idea of personalities as computer programs to its logical consequence, and envisages multiple copies of the same program – the same person – running simultaneously on different networks. This is the closest anyone will ever get to the fantasy of cloning identical human beings' Guardian.

'A bravura piece of storytelling, and marks a powerful shift in awareness and understanding, not just for the characters but undoubtedly for the readers themselves' National Post.

'The tech may be more advanced, but the politics feel familiar ... The overwhelming message of Walkaway is hope [and] right now, that could not feel more timely' SciFiNow.

'Proper science fiction. A warning of our times. An investigation of what it means to be a human today and where the future might take us' Nudge.

'Mr Doctorow's philosophy is passionately argued ... and the thinking is lively' Wall Street Journal.

'Cory Doctorow is one of the most exciting writers of Science Fiction currently working' The Bookbag.

'At times, Doctorow's worldview and the day-after-tomorrow world he's created in Walkaway seems a bit rosy, too trusting of human nature and digital innovation. But he's no more a wide-eyed hippie than an Ayn Rand-inspired libertarian, and his view of humanity is complex' LA Times.

'[Doctorow's] fullest, most important book so far, and a lot of fun even to disagree with' Toronto Star.

'I came to care about its characters. Doctorow somehow managed to make me feel their fear, hope, and love' Quill and Quire.

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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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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A book about a bunch of dropouts and thieves who adopt a lifestyle of stealing everything around them to fuel their 3D printers and drug labs. Eventually the tech nerd elitists who run everything manage to destabilise society, causing massive riots, death and the destruction of jobs and the economy, which is hailed as a moral victory by the people who are comfortably living in their homes made out of stolen material. Basically Objectivism for the sort of sci fi nerds who like to hand wave all the commercial work that brought them the 'free' technology they're using to steal people's work.
OR
It's a book about using tech to step away from the capitalist system to recycle cast off and dumped material to be used by everyone.

Either way, it's book about two very flawed ideologies desperately being rationalised that somehow manages to never ask the question: What if someone isn't a brilliant coder or hardware genius? Where's the space for them in this high tech, computer driven world?
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Well, I found that a really good read.

I'm not sure that I can go with the *detail* of the story, perhaps because I'm not sure if the technology will be available "whenever" to, say, fabricate better fabricators -- though I'm sure scavenging would be a viable option -- or whether we'd have to reinvent the loo roll, the toothbrush, and dry stone walling. There is a helluva lot of necessary infrastructure behind even moderately-complex electronics these days, and if that was compromised, we may find the whole house of cards come tumbling down.

Despite decades working with IT, I must admit that the old romantic in me still has visions of hippy communes and dreams of the sort of Shangri-La, away from everything in the Himalayas (or at least the foothills), found in James Hilton's "Lost Horizon".

Nevertheless, looking at the overall *pattern* of the story, I really can appreciate the realism, and if the opportunity arose I would be sorely tempted to "walkaway".

One thing that did throw me a little, on occasion, was working out who was speaking, without attributions like "Natalie said." Non-technical readers might also be scratching their head wondering what words like "pwned" mean, but that's not much of an issue, and definitions are only a click away.

As I say, "Walkaway" is well-worth reading ... and thinking long and hard about.
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Ok, I'm off. Who's coming with? I'm going to follow Cory into the wilderness, ride my bike until I run up against a carnival or a ravine or a stationary friend, and then abandon it to await its next (temporary) owner. I'll build or borrow another when I need it.

We have, or _could have_, if the zottas would stop clinging on, all the preconditions for abundance. ("Zottas" are the zotta-rich, the destination 2017's precious bus full of billionaires who currently own half the world's wealth are heading in.) So why not just walk away, take the tech we need to start again in abandoned spaces, and start afresh?

As always Cory creates a completely believable world just over the far edge of what is in sight on the technology horizon, and uses it (like Ursula le Guin, or Kim Stanley Robinson) to expose the structures and fault-lines of our tired and unstable social system. He doesn't shy from the huge barriers to positive change that hold us back, but neither is he scared to Think Big and to draw a better future in bold brush strokes that catch at the heart strings and raise the pulse.

Why do we need greed? Why do we tolerate riches in our increasingly finite world? It isn't where we came from, social and collaborative animals that we are. As one character says to a zotta:

“We’re not making a world without greed... We’re making a world where greed is a perversion. Where grabbing everything for yourself instead of sharing is like smearing yourself with shit: gross. Wrong. Our winning doesn’t mean you don’t get to be greedy. It means people will be ashamed for you, will pity you and want to distance themselves from you. You can be as greedy as you want, but no one will admire you for it.”

If I had to name a disagreement with this world view?
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This is very much an ‘ideas’ book. It tries to extrapolate how a world based on ever-increasing inequality might develop and, in doing so, reaches some striking conclusions. Chief among these is the idea that, in a winner-takes-all, hyper capitalist world the ‘losers’ will eventually opt-out completely and attempt to set up totally separate societies that are fairer in terms of equality and government. Of course, this isn’t a new concept – parts of it can be traced back to Sir Thomas More’s 16th century book Utopia and perhaps even further back to Plato’s Republic. However, it merits revisiting in view of current technological advances, notably in energy generation, new materials, and IT. Collectively, these advances suggest that it will become increasingly easy to set up alternative societies without sacrificing many of capitalism’s advantages. Whether these societies would develop to be better than what we already have is an open question. Certainly, this book glosses over awkward questions about how such societies would deal with people who commit serious crimes.

‘Walkabout’ is not an easy read. Its prose style is pretty clunky in places and some of the invented sci-fi jargon requires quite a bit of decoding. However, I liked the use of words like ‘zotta’ to describe people who are so rich that they make billionaires look like paupers. Presumably, ‘zotta’ is a combination of the decimal prefixes ‘zetta’ (10^21) and ‘yotta’ (10^24). More importantly, the sometimes awkward style is totally forgivable in view of the many original ideas contained in the book. Perhaps the most interesting are riffs on the idea that it might one day be possible to scan a person’s brain and capture consciousness in computer software (‘I’m inside a box’).
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