counter create hit The Gone-Away World - Download Free eBook
Hot Best Seller

The Gone-Away World

Availability: Ready to download

The Jorgmund Pipe is the backbone of the world, and it's on fire. Gonzo Lubitsch, professional hero and troubleshooter, is hired to put it out, but there's more to the fire, and the Pipe itself, than meets the eye. The job will take Gonzo and his best friend, our narrator, back to their own beginnings. The Jorgmund Pipe is the backbone of the world, and it's on fire. Gonzo Lubitsch, professional hero and troubleshooter, is hired to put it out, but there's more to the fire, and the Pipe itself, than meets the eye. The job will take Gonzo and his best friend, our narrator, back to their own beginnings.


Compare

The Jorgmund Pipe is the backbone of the world, and it's on fire. Gonzo Lubitsch, professional hero and troubleshooter, is hired to put it out, but there's more to the fire, and the Pipe itself, than meets the eye. The job will take Gonzo and his best friend, our narrator, back to their own beginnings. The Jorgmund Pipe is the backbone of the world, and it's on fire. Gonzo Lubitsch, professional hero and troubleshooter, is hired to put it out, but there's more to the fire, and the Pipe itself, than meets the eye. The job will take Gonzo and his best friend, our narrator, back to their own beginnings.

30 review for The Gone-Away World

  1. 4 out of 5

    Nick

    One of the most bizarre and uncomfortable things in the world: being asked to rate one's own book. I'm giving it five stars out of love. I accept that you might differ :) One of the most bizarre and uncomfortable things in the world: being asked to rate one's own book. I'm giving it five stars out of love. I accept that you might differ :)

  2. 4 out of 5

    Paula

    DAG. Nick Harkaway is well into his third pint and his eleventh story when he looks around and realizes he's got half the bar hanging on his every word, and THAT's when he leans back a little, stretches his legs, and gives you a three-page backstory on a minor idiot whose chief role in the book is getting punched in the head. Because, and this is a rule, so pay attention: punching an idiot in the head is funny, not to mention satisfying, but the road that an idiot travels on his way to getting p DAG. Nick Harkaway is well into his third pint and his eleventh story when he looks around and realizes he's got half the bar hanging on his every word, and THAT's when he leans back a little, stretches his legs, and gives you a three-page backstory on a minor idiot whose chief role in the book is getting punched in the head. Because, and this is a rule, so pay attention: punching an idiot in the head is funny, not to mention satisfying, but the road that an idiot travels on his way to getting punched is Pure Comic Gold. If The Gone-Away World were "merely" funny, it would be worth reading. But, oh, it's not. There is good stuff here about humanity, identity, and friendship. Jiminy Cricket is invoked. And there's a vividly imagined world, two, really, a Before and an After. There are characters that will put you in mind of Heinlein, Terry Pratchett, and various (good) comic books. I read this book so hard that my arm cramped up, and it is still sore.

  3. 5 out of 5

    carol.

    It is probably good for both of us that GR reviews have a character limit. For me, so there is a limit on my copyright violations. For you, so you won't have to read every line that I found amazing, remarkable, thoughtful, or funny. It took me two reads to compile my thoughts on The Gone-Away World, and I'm not sure we're done with each other yet. It's one of those kinds of books that offers more each time through. Not the lull of a comforting, familiar read, but the folds of the "ah-ha!" kind o It is probably good for both of us that GR reviews have a character limit. For me, so there is a limit on my copyright violations. For you, so you won't have to read every line that I found amazing, remarkable, thoughtful, or funny. It took me two reads to compile my thoughts on The Gone-Away World, and I'm not sure we're done with each other yet. It's one of those kinds of books that offers more each time through. Not the lull of a comforting, familiar read, but the folds of the "ah-ha!" kind of plotting, the thoughtful "oh yes!" of appreciation, and the generating of fanciful ideas. Harkaway's ability with word choice, not quite absurdist, but at the far limits of possibility, knocks me out. It's silly and irreverent: "It will be a useful study aid in my newly chosen specialist field of getting-the-fuck-out-of-here-olgy" (p.229) Then, just when it reaches the limits, the reader/narrator realizes the situation is serious and the irony is washed away, resulting in a powerful emotional exposure and, sometimes, a sad transition to disaster. For instance, there's an ongoing bit about the narrator's girlfriend in college who was physically stimulated by their rebellion. It was funny ("we all but wear out the oppressive manacles of the state oppressor and it's getting to the point where we'll have to pinch some new ones") right until it's brought back home in a way that illuminates the self-delusion (in this case, with real oppression): "This place does not feel like my country. It feels like countries I have read about where things are very bad. It feels, in fact, like exactly the kind of thing we were protesting against, but we thought it was elsewhere. It is not heartening to find that it has come to us" (p.105) Harkaway's metaphors come through in the strangest places, but are all the more delightful for the oddity. There's a prolonged hot spell and Gonzo's father's bees are keeping the hive cool by fanning their wings and laboriously flying in water droplets: "Air conditioning by slave labour, if you believe that a hive is run by an autocrat, but Old Man Lubitsch has long ago explained that the Queen is an asset, cherished and nurtured but not obeyed, and that the hives are a functioning biological machine. He cannot decide if they represent an eerie social harmony or a grim nightmare of mechanistic subservience to a purposeless and endlessly repeating pattern" (p.54). Or thoughts on fighting an endless war: "We were, in other words, screwed. But we were on top of the situation. We knew we were screwed, and we had chosen the manner of our screwedness. We understood it and to that extent we controlled it. It was like the Nuclear Threat--while it was going on, we didn't have to think about any other kinds of screwed we might be" (p.257) He does this over and over again, and then when you feel you might be hitting some sort of ironic, comedic overload (think three or four hours of The Daily Show), he throws in an emotional connection that reminds us these characters are also human. For instance, in the middle of an escape with the Special Forces crew and a few ancillary staff, the team takes a moment: "A brief council of war is convened, during which everyone takes turns to hold Egon, because he is shaking and needs to be loved, and we are leaving no one behind, not physically and not spiritually, because we are who we are and that is how we're going to stay" (p.231). There is a powerful motif of identity running through, and the identity we have as people versus the identity we have in roles, whether chosen or foisted upon us. One of the most moving and ambivalent sections of this dealt with George Copsen, the father of one of Gonzo's admirers, and a member of the military: "He lifts the red telephone and says: 'Copsen.' Someone on the other end speaks, firmly and simply. General George either grows older or grows colder; it happens to him from within like a tall building being demolished or flowers growing in fast motion, and I realise he is making himself into the cog, rather than the man" (p.188). The ultimate outcome of this theme via the mechanism of the Stuff, was downright amazing. I was astonished. What elevates it beyond a discourse on human nature/civilization is the astonishing concept of the Go-Away Bomb, and it's fallout, the Stuff. (view spoiler)[ "The Go Away Bomb is a thing of awful power, a vacuum cleaner of information, sucking the organising principle, the information, out of matter, and energy. Professor Derek assumed that either of these latter two stripped of the first simply ceased to exist. It seems he was wrong. Matter stripped of information becomes Stuff... desperate for new information. It becomes hungry"(p.255). (hide spoiler)] And there is for me, the moral of the story, the philosophical underpinning; the idea of forming and creation from ideas, for what else happens when people meet Stuff, but ideas become almost-real? And what is reality, except our perception of things, our assumptions? And if the nightmares and dreams aren't quite real, well they do exist in our heads, and in our emotions, our perceptions and our reactions, so that they are, in some ways, real enough. As I said, it's that kind of a book. Everything in this book is so very quotable--I have a sticky note filled with partial quotes and page references. It's slightly blurry, of course, from dropping it in the bath, but still legible. Mostly. But I love Harkaway's social commentary. It's funny in that wry way, when something is unfortunately true (the corporate Pencilneck), funny in that gross way (a derriere shaped stain on the pool table that implies unauthorized activities), and funny in that oddball way such as exploring identity issues through a troupe of mimes, and a group of circus travelers named 'K.' It misses five stars because some significant editing could have tightened it up and broadened its appeal (much like this review). The second time through I can appreciate foreshadowing (view spoiler)[related to the narrator identity. (hide spoiler)] I can see where it got lost before; I was distracted and enjoying the Pencilneck B through M metaphor, and lost the actual plot point. But it was there. It's the type of thing that editing around it could have given it a little more importance, and likely made the impact a little more profound. One of the book groups I'm in read it for a monthly read, and it was rather disappointing how many readers felt they were forcing themselves to through it, even as they appreciated sections. No need to throw every thought into your book, Harkaway; save some for the next time. On re-read, a mere forty pages in I can see where it could have been trimmed already. A paragraph here, a paragraph there, sections musing on someone's life/death that the narrator is only speculating on. Less can be more; it could have given more prominence to the plot and world-building and evened the pace. After a leisurely pace through childhood, adolescence and college, the grande finale and confrontation seemed rather tacked on. That said, I found myself alternatively smiling, snickering, tense and moved when reading. In the final Carol-mark of greatness, I believe it deserves a spot in my physical library, and I'm looking forward to giving Angelmaker a try. Four-and-a-half imaginary stars. Cross posted at my blog: http://clsiewert.wordpress.com/2013/0...

  4. 5 out of 5

    mark monday

    Kurt Vonnegut Jr! T. Coraghessan Boyle! Joseph Heller (maybe)! Tom Robbins! and now it appears that Nick Harkaway can be added to the list of humanistic, cynical, insanely creative authors who truck in wild & wooly tales that blur the boundaries between reality & fantasy and are filled with enormous digressions, bizarre conundrums, slippery plot twists, and the kind of dark irony that feels like a surprise smack to the head. >the following review contains the occasional spoiler, sorry< The Gone-Aw Kurt Vonnegut Jr! T. Coraghessan Boyle! Joseph Heller (maybe)! Tom Robbins! and now it appears that Nick Harkaway can be added to the list of humanistic, cynical, insanely creative authors who truck in wild & wooly tales that blur the boundaries between reality & fantasy and are filled with enormous digressions, bizarre conundrums, slippery plot twists, and the kind of dark irony that feels like a surprise smack to the head. >the following review contains the occasional spoiler, sorry< The Gone-Away World is about a terrible war that destroys most of the world. It is about the weapons used in the war and that changed the world; it is about the psychosis behind what caused the war. It has two heroes - a brave & thoughtless alpha type and his quiet & thoughtful beta best friend - and their past lives (a Lot of their past lives), growing up & going to school & joining the military & falling in love. It is about the nature of friendship. It is about identity. It is about conformism & corporatization and the relationship between those two things. It has ninjas & mimes & dreams made real. It has an absolutely stunning twist that comes about two-thirds of the way through the book, the kind of wonderfully mind-boggling twist that forces the reader to re-evaluate everything that has come before. It is a book that often flirts with brilliance - when it is not too busy being remarkably tangential and self-indulgent. The book is not for everyone. Well, what book is? If you are familiar with the authors I mentioned above, then you will be familiar with its particular sort of tone. The voice is jokey. Aggressively loopy and lighthearted, even during brutal scenes. It can be somewhat hard to take over an extended period of time - and this is a long book. And then there are the digressions. - I'm a digressive person. I think it is a part of my charm (oh and I got lots of that) but I also know that it is something that confounds and sometimes annoys people. Me and my tangents and my little jokes. I see that glassy look in the eye that some people get when I go off and into the blue. Most people just don't even get what I'm talking about, they just wait til I'm finished and then get back to what we were talking about because who has the time to figure out all of my references? One night during a council meeting break I was talking to a fellow council member about Doctor Who and how much we love that show. When I reconvened the meeting there was a motion to eliminate some funding for a program deemed redundant; I responded by saying "Exterminate! Exterminate!" in a robotic voice. Clearly this was a tribute to Doctor Who's robotic villains the Daleks as well as a subtle critique of the council's bloodthirsty need to eliminate funding. But everyone had that glassy look in their eyes as I tried to explain, including - horribly - that one council member who was a fellow Doctor Who fan. Sigh. But back to the book. The Gone-Away World: not for everyone. Readers who are automatically attracted to the plot synopsis (futuristic society, futuristic war, futuristic weapons... dreams made real, bizarre monsters, ninjas...) may find themselves trapped in a book that is distinctly not a genre novel and probably should not be considered as straight-up science fiction or fantasy. So, genre readers, beware. You may not find what you are looking for and you may end up being frustrated, bored, and wishing you had embarked on a different journey. Trust me, I've seen the aggravated reviews! So consider yourself warned. This is not a scifi novel filled with robots, speculative science, etc. And then of course, to potentially frustrate you further, there are the digressions. - There have been quite a few people in my life who have named me Best Friend. There was Marc in South Bend; hey, he was also my first love. There was John and Michelle in Virginia Beach; fortunately there was no rivalry because we were all best friends together. There's Marcy in Orange County; we shared a love of acerbic put-downs & arguing & of course our inherently queer nature. There was J-P and Ian in San Diego; unfortunately in this case there was a rivalry and the two detested each other - which was awkward because we all lived together in one tiny apartment. Sorta funny to contemplate because J-P is rather flaming while Ian is resolutely straight. Were they competing for my bisexual soul? Since then there's Brian, Steve, Scott, Jill, and Graham. Is there a common thread to all these close friends? I suppose one thread may be that those friends were both similar to me yet completely different. We complemented each other in important ways. I was assertive to John's inwardness, calm to Marcy's anger, an anchor to J-P's flights of fancy, John Waters to Ian's Barry Levinson (hello, Baltimore), a balance to Steve's chaos, and now a terminal nerd to Graham's timeless cool guy. Oh, Graham. Will Rachel read this review and report back? I sure hope not. Skip this review, Rachel. But back to the book. I'm reminded that one of the things that really appealed to me was its contemplation of friendship. This is a truly sweet-natured novel and its thoughts on the nature of 'best friends' are likewise sweet. I don't know if Harkaway is exactly saying that best pals complement each other in a yin & yang way - and the crazy twist of the book actually rather undercuts that idea. But it is a fetching concept and I really responded to it on a personal level. I also responded to its ongoing take on How to Avoid Being a Part of the Machine. - I was a part of the Machine! I worked for AIG! I fooled myself into thinking that it didn't really matter due to the fact that I also lived in a really counterculture world and had crazy anarchist thoughts and demonstrated and went to jail for my beliefs and was a queer radical and etc etc etc. I fooled myself into thinking that as long as I thought differently from my AIG cohorts that I wasn't really like them, not at all, no way. But that was nonsense. I may have thought differently but I was still a cog in the machine. Actions are what count and my actions were those of a cog. Happily, I grew up and got the fuck out of Dodge, goodbye AIG, fuck you corporate culture. The Gone-Away World's contempt for conformist thought and corporate culture is beyond withering. The whole novel acts as a ferocious assault on both. That ferocity and the constancy of Harkaway's critiques - filtered through the novel's resolutely cheery, goofy absurdism, so don't think this is some kind of angry political tract - are both a strength and a weakness. The weakness: Harkaway has picked such an exceedingly easy target that at times it gets a bit much. A bit drop-out-of-society/hippy dippy/Fuck The Man/etc. A bit eye-rolling. Or maybe I just have a knee-jerk reaction to easy targets. But it is also a real strength. Harkaway is super clever and his frontal assault on conformism goes in many surprising and thought-provoking directions. At one point the terrible changes that can happen when being exposed to Gone-Away weapons are paralleled to the gradual change a cog in the machine can go through as they slowly lose their individuality and empathy to the bottom line and to being safe in the company of like-minded people. People can turn into monsters in different kinds of ways, in books and out of them. I really feel that idea. Also, ninjas are inherently conformist! At some level, I always knew that. Stupid conformist ninjas, ugh, they're the worst. Anyway, fun book! It's a head trip and an adventure and it also hates conformism, so what's not to like? It is also hella digressive but hey I'm not the sort who really minds that. Plus a plush pink cover that is really cool and original and velvety to the touch! Not sure the texture of the cover has anything to do with the novel but maybe I'm missing something. I really like the feeling of that cover. It would be sorta neat to have a bed cover made of that material. Except not pink. And maybe not for my bed. I'm not sure if that would make my cat very happy as it's not a very cat-friendly texture. But what is a cat-friendly texture? I suppose something that feels like a cat post. Ah, cats. I love cats! I wonder what my cat is doing now. Digsy, where are you? I love Digsy. Such a sweet cat.

  5. 5 out of 5

    karen

    dear jasmine, you and i are so diametrically opposed in all things literary. i swear i am not rating this on the lower side just to retaliate for your not loving winshaw legacy. if the truth be told, it's higher than a three, but i feel like i give out a lot of fours, and i think i may have failed this book rather than this book failing me. failing like the way i am going to fail this computer class - i.e. - spectacularly. it had a lot of things to make me respond positively - there were some tru dear jasmine, you and i are so diametrically opposed in all things literary. i swear i am not rating this on the lower side just to retaliate for your not loving winshaw legacy. if the truth be told, it's higher than a three, but i feel like i give out a lot of fours, and i think i may have failed this book rather than this book failing me. failing like the way i am going to fail this computer class - i.e. - spectacularly. it had a lot of things to make me respond positively - there were some truly memorable scenes: the showdown between master wu and the ninjas was really beautifully done, the found thousand was another gorgeous part, ike thermite is incredibly lovable and badass - there are a lot of lovable characters, come to think of it. there was just so... much. i'm still not clear about what FOX does to stuff, or how the pipe actually functioned... there was a lot happening in the middle that made for great scenes and images, almost short-stories-within the book that i would hate to not have read, but which muddied the shape of the narrative a little for me. plus i have been drowning in school and stress and mess in my head... there were days when i would go to read it on break and end up sleeping the whole hour on the stoop. sigh, i am so utterly classy. and days where i had to read my computer textbook which means no time for fun reading (fat lot of good it did me, i say) but you know what - the more i am thinking about this and writing through it - the more i am liking isolated elements of it. i think i will give it a four anyway - its not like i am on the nobel panel or anything - i liked this book. there. now i am closer in taste to you, and i can continue my month of dystopian, apocalyptic and other world disaster-reading. sincerely, karen t. brissette oh, and i forgot - to all the people who aren't jasmime - the book is fuzzy!! not fuzzy like my cat, but like the "poochie and slomo" book. so even if you dont like mimes and ninjas and aftermath of technologically advanced weaponry then you can carry it around like a pet. its an example of worst transition to paperback ever because the tp is such a boring cover, comparatively. get your fuzz on! come to my blog!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Carmen

    Everyone should read this book. It is extremely enjoyable and amazing. Harkaway writes the heck out of this book. I can't really explain to you what this is about. That would be very difficult. It is a combination of the movies: The Expendables (franchise) Shogun Assassin V for Vendetta Real Genius Fast and Furious (franchise) The Karate Kid The English Patient Apocalypse Now Pitch Black Chronicles of Riddick We Are What We Are (2013) Along with the books: Catch-22, Vertical Run, and, most strongly, Reamde. Everyone should read this book. It is extremely enjoyable and amazing. Harkaway writes the heck out of this book. I can't really explain to you what this is about. That would be very difficult. It is a combination of the movies: The Expendables (franchise) Shogun Assassin V for Vendetta Real Genius Fast and Furious (franchise) The Karate Kid The English Patient Apocalypse Now Pitch Black Chronicles of Riddick We Are What We Are (2013) Along with the books: Catch-22, Vertical Run, and, most strongly, Reamde. This book reminded me a lot of Reamde, while still being COMPLETELY different. Which is amazing, Reamde is one of my all-time favorite books. Add Harkaway's own bright, unique talent and you've got a definite winner. Harkaway ruthlessly strips away all veneers and performs a brutal yet funny exposure of human nature. This book is filled with truth, but gentled by humor, so it is bearable. He also has a savage mistrust of government and corporations and this subtle, manipulative thread is woven throughout the whole story. It's a glorious mishmash of violence, love, tenderness, family, war, and genocide. You're not being very clear. It's super-hard to be clear about this insanely twisting and turning 576-page novel. Its light, it's dark, it's funny, it's brutally honest. People fall in love, people die, war is waged, babies are born. Alright, here's some helpful advice for you. Harkaway's writing style is the style of old-man-sitting-at-the-bar-telling-you-his-life-story. This is very tedious and hard to get through. Don't expect a lot of dialogue. In fact, it is pretty much one long, continuous monologue which is unbroken. The book is amazing, excellent, stunning, brutal, and funny - but you are going to need frequent breaks. 576 pages, I could have gobbled this amount in one day. However, you just cannot do that with this book. You are going to need a rest. Because of all the truth Harkaway is laying down? NO! Because his writing style is relentless and merciless, and not in a good way. o.O What else? Well,... I might as well give you a few tastes. Some memories are greyscale; paint-by-numbers. If you examine them in your head, your mind hurriedly glosses everything, fills in the spaces with tints and shades. If you turn your head too quickly, you catch yourself daubing the walls to match what you know was there but cannot actually recall. Others are all sensation, all colour and no detail. The living room of my parents' house - in memory - is a cool airy blue, with a dark oak fireplace and modern oil paintings in driftwood frames. It's like a living room cut into a glacier. In the same memories my father is a deep voice from an upward direction, a moving wall of woollen trouser and leather brogues. He is a source of unexpected swoops and presents wrapped inexpertly in newspaper. My mother is brown corduroy and a nurturing spoon. Her hands are cool upon my forehead, soothing my fevers, making magic on bruises and knocks. How about this, here's an example of Harkaway's humor: I spend five minutes pottering around admiring Royce Allen's off-the-peg stuff while his nervous assistant follows me to and fro, nodding when I make little noises of discontent and explaining that (while everything I see is of highest quality in all respects) the bespoke work is vastly superior. I try on a shirt. It makes me look like a god. I suggest that it's a little tight under the arms. Yes. Definitely pulling... what sort of thread does Royce Allen use in his seams? It feels coarse. The assistant assures me that the thread is the finest baby hair and angora rabbit, the softest known to man. I sigh. It must be the fabric then. A pity. No, no, the fabric is a cotton picked by child slave labourers who wash and moisturize their hands every hour so as to prevent their fingers from roughing the fibres. They bleed, of course, but their blood contains chemicals (owing to a strictly controlled diet) which actually add to the luxuriant mellowness of the weave. The blood is as a matter of course hygienically bleached out with a mineral cleansing agent made from crushed diamond and virgin's saliva, which adds lustre and radiance, and also gives the finished shirt the toughness of ballistic nylon. Notice how Harkaway neatly sidesteps any dialogue in this scene where our MC is interacting with a sales clerk. This is the whole book. This is why you'll need frequent breaks. Brilliant, funny, fascinating - great writing. Exhausting writing style, you have been warned. Last one: Fear is an emotion with many shapes. It can be a thing of jolts and shudders, like an electric shock, or it can be like the tendril of cold night air which reaches you in your bed when all your door and windows should be closed. It can come in the shape of a well-known footstep in the wrong place at the wrong time, or a foreign one in a familiar room. But all fear is connected, a susurrus which plays around you in the dark and brushes against your skin, pushes the hair back from your face like an uninvited guest, and slips away before you dare to open your eyes. Also, fear is SNEAKY. It establishes a foothold and sits, content. While you confront it, it is small and weak, and looks back at you with timorous eyes, so that you wonder how it could ever stir you for more than a moment. Turn you back, and it waxes, casting giant shadows and flickering in the corner of your eye, leaning lingeringly on the creaky floorboard. It inflates and bursts, propelling fragments of itself to the far corners of your mind, where they grow again until you are inundated, and you drown. Highly accurate. Now, let's talk about surprises. I rather unkindly posted a status update at page 273, saying, "I'm not surprised. You keep trying to surprise me, author (this is the second time), and I don't want to hurt your feelings, but I can see your "shocking twists" coming from a mile away. Two miles. I mean, the book is excellent. EXCELLENT, but twists aren't exactly your strong suit. Stop trying so hard, okay? Thanks." Actually, this was not unkind. It was true. Harkaway's first two attempts at SHOCKING TWISTS left me mildly annoyed. I saw them coming from a mile away. I didn't MIND the twists, I liked where the story was going and thought Harkaway was writing superbly well - what annoyed me was his kind of "whoosh! I have taken off the cloth! Aren't you SHOCKED by what's underneath?!!?!" and I was like, "No, no, I'm not. Actually I predicted that would happen. So would you calm down, please." HOWEVER. This is a big however. Harkaway delivers some huge, truly shocking, amazing twists at the end of the book. I think he was looking to deliver three, but (I'm sorry, Harkaway) I saw the third one coming. But the two twists that 'got' me were, in fact, shocking and brilliant. The kind where you gasp out loud in a public place and everyone turns to look at you and you don't even care because you're like, "Holy shit!!!!!!" These are the best kind of twists. So I forgive him for the three that fell flat for me. Perhaps they will work on other readers, I may be too jaded and too well-read for some things. Um... what else. Don't be afraid of this because "it's science fiction and I don't read science fiction." It's completely an amazing read, I wish we'd stop genre-ing everything because I think it's counter-productive. If you are a hetero woman or anyone who has any sexuality that finds men attractive, this MC is highly yummy exhibiting many mensch-like traits. And there is a tiny bit of kissing and also snuggling (SNUGGLING) in this book which is highly swoon-worthy. Nothing explicit, no on-page sex, but if you enjoy reading about HIGHLY ATTRACTIVE MEN in the sense that they are a mensch of the highest order, who also treat women right and have snuggling, then this is heaven. Highly recommend if you want a new literary crush. A whole book of a mensch going around doing mensch-like things and having occasional kissing and snuggling is like heaven to me, I was in heaven. YUM. Perhaps Professor Derek - accursed be his name and his seed in eternity, and may giant badgers pursue him for ever through the Bewildering Hell of Fire Ants, Soap Opera and Urethral Infections - is still alive and trying to clean up his mess. ^^Random funny quote. Another rather annoying thing is (perhaps because Harkaway is ignorant of pop culture??!!) that he chooses to name one of his MCs "Bey." Now, I may not be on Twitter, but even I can't help instantly thinking of Beyonce every single time this character Bey was mentioned. Since Bey, is, in fact, a rather elderly pirate man, this was highly unhelpful. Phrases like "house of Bey" and "bring me Bey!" had me cracking up hysterically (for once, not Harkaway's goal) as I was picturing either Beyonce or the term everyone uses now called "bae." It was a bad choice, IMO. But besides Harkaway's relentless writing style, any quibbles with this book are minor. I was highly peeved by his decision to include mimes (MIMES!) and at one point a circus - UGH. So many shudders. I have to deal with mimes AND a circus in this book!?!?!?!? ANGER. But given the general amazing-ness of this book I think it's forgivable. Tl;dr - It is a winner. It blew me out of the water. It surprised me, educated me, made me laugh, and engrossed me. It was smart and funny and kind. It was brutally true but also surprisingly gentle. It was wonderful. I highly recommend to anyone who lives on the planet Earth, or anyone who breathes oxygen. Men will love it, women will love it, older people will love it, younger people will love it. There's no boundary here. Even people who "don't read science fiction" might find this book strangely readable. (I'd say that about Reamde, too.) A+. Highest marks.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    I was initially excited to read this book because I love post-apocalyptic fiction and because the first reviewers of the book seemed to think it was a wonderful work of fiction. The publishers gave Harkaway a little over $535,000 to write the book, so I was hoping that there was a reason for it other than that Harkaway is the son of famous author John le Carre. Unfortunately, I found myself thinking the publishers got a raw deal since the problems I had with the first 2 pages continued throughou I was initially excited to read this book because I love post-apocalyptic fiction and because the first reviewers of the book seemed to think it was a wonderful work of fiction. The publishers gave Harkaway a little over $535,000 to write the book, so I was hoping that there was a reason for it other than that Harkaway is the son of famous author John le Carre. Unfortunately, I found myself thinking the publishers got a raw deal since the problems I had with the first 2 pages continued throughout the book. I handed the book to my husband, also a prolific reader, and he thought it was as awful as I did. The grammar breaks all the rules. Misplaced modifiers abound. The author turns everything into a metaphor and then rambles on for several paragraphs concerning that metaphor. And the majority of the book exists only because the author is unable to keep himself from going off on wild tangents that may or may not relate to the story at large. However, I was willing to suspend the technical problems of the book as artistic license since so many ecstatic reviewers seemed to think Harkaway's writing style is groundbreaking. Unfortunately, as I read on, I found myself dreading picking up the book every day. I'd find myself nodding off to sleep after 2 pages and find myself forcing myself to plod through more. After 147 pages, I just can't bring myself to read 351 more pages. I have a feeling that this is a book that either you like or you hate. I didn't want to be a hater, but I just can't go on. My congratulations to those of you who could. Note: While I critique both purchased and free books in the same way, I'm legally obligated to tell you I received this book free through the Amazon Vine program in return for my review. Blah blah blah.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Tattered Cover Book Store

    (FOR THE SHORT REVIEW SKIP TO THE BOTTOM) Not since "Catcher in the Rye" have I felt that a book was written specifically for me. Not that much is really shared between them, except they are those rare books that brim with complete and utter awesomeness. They were also that exact book I needed to read at that exact point in life. Upon reading the cover flap I thought I was in store for something a bit pulpy and moderately derivative. This is something I usually don't mind since I am very fond of g (FOR THE SHORT REVIEW SKIP TO THE BOTTOM) Not since "Catcher in the Rye" have I felt that a book was written specifically for me. Not that much is really shared between them, except they are those rare books that brim with complete and utter awesomeness. They were also that exact book I needed to read at that exact point in life. Upon reading the cover flap I thought I was in store for something a bit pulpy and moderately derivative. This is something I usually don't mind since I am very fond of genre fiction. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that while getting the gist of the story absolutely right the flap-writers also got it wrong. Rarely have I been happier. Why read this book? Why not? The writing style is fun, yet serious. The characters are multi-dimensional and well utilized. The plotting perfectly navigates that dangerous ground between the fields of literary and (believable? understandable?) science fiction. Unfortunately, this may be a flaw, as unimaginative readers of both stripes may just give this one a skip. What else, Ryan? Tell us. Sure thing, no problem. Perfectly placed comedic gems are liberally scattered through the book, even as horrific events unfold. There is love and war and kung fu scenes never before found between such day-glo covers. More importantly there is terrible sadness and friendship and that wonderful all-that-matters-at-the-end-of-the-day trait called loyalty. Now, I don't like to beg (not true), but I implore you to give this one a chance. Step out of your comfort zone, grab this pink, fuzzy book and hold on for dear life. When you are finished reading you will approach me. I will nod calmly and knowingly as you offer your neverending thanks for making you read "The Gone Away World". SHORT REVIEW: If you didn't have a pulse this book would give you one.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

    I read about 35% of this last fall and had to take a break. The writing is extremely overwrought and the story (if there is one) meanders so much, I just never got into it. But most of the reviews on here are raves, and it felt like just maybe there's a payoff somewhere, like at some point the story clicks into gear and it gets good, so I never gave up on it entirely. Since then, it has been the book I pick up in between other books and I must've tried about 10 times now to get into it. But nope I read about 35% of this last fall and had to take a break. The writing is extremely overwrought and the story (if there is one) meanders so much, I just never got into it. But most of the reviews on here are raves, and it felt like just maybe there's a payoff somewhere, like at some point the story clicks into gear and it gets good, so I never gave up on it entirely. Since then, it has been the book I pick up in between other books and I must've tried about 10 times now to get into it. But nope, I'm done. I fucking hate this book. HAAAAAAAATE. It is so obnoxiously written, with such a smarmy 'oh look at me aren't I so fucking clever' tone to it. Every sentence is pushed the the breaking point with clunky asides, digressions, and backwards construction. It's insufferable. There is nothing, and I mean NOTHING, to this book but meaningless digressions and pretentious wankery. It's a bottomless rabbit hole of digressions with no thread to follow, nothing to care about, and no one to root for. Mr. Harkaway is so clearly in love with his prose it's really irritating. To call it masturbatory would be an insult to masturbation.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Megan Baxter

    The Gone-Away World is a book that I enjoyed thoroughly, yet wasn't excited by. I'm not sure why - it had many of the attributes that I usually love. A certain sense of surrealism, of humour, of a meandering storyline, and threatening things just out of the edges of my vision. Yet I finished it feeling satisfied, but not thrilled. What did it need to take it to the next level? Or am I being too demanding? Is this feeling of deep-down satisfaction, in itself, testament to what I've read? Note: The The Gone-Away World is a book that I enjoyed thoroughly, yet wasn't excited by. I'm not sure why - it had many of the attributes that I usually love. A certain sense of surrealism, of humour, of a meandering storyline, and threatening things just out of the edges of my vision. Yet I finished it feeling satisfied, but not thrilled. What did it need to take it to the next level? Or am I being too demanding? Is this feeling of deep-down satisfaction, in itself, testament to what I've read? Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here. In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kara Babcock

    The genius of The Gone-Away World sneaks up on you in a loud and bombastic way. Nick Harkaway's writing reminds me two Douglases who are masters of the absurd and apocalyptic: Douglas Coupland and Douglas Adams. Sardonic and observant, Harkaway tosses off scene after scene of unrelenting zany fun. Yet when the smoke clears and the score is tallied, The Gone-Away World is ultimately, like JPod or The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, about what it means to be human. The title of the book comes fro The genius of The Gone-Away World sneaks up on you in a loud and bombastic way. Nick Harkaway's writing reminds me two Douglases who are masters of the absurd and apocalyptic: Douglas Coupland and Douglas Adams. Sardonic and observant, Harkaway tosses off scene after scene of unrelenting zany fun. Yet when the smoke clears and the score is tallied, The Gone-Away World is ultimately, like JPod or The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, about what it means to be human. The title of the book comes from the most terrible superweapon ever invented, the "Go-Away Bomb." When deployed, the bomb makes information instantly cease to exist. Unfortunately, a side-effect of going away is the creation of nebulous "Stuff", which responds to random thoughts and memories in a person's mind and makes those thoughts real. The result: mutants, monsters, and even entirely "new" people made real by Stuff. When multiple countries deploy Go-Away bombs in a fantastic feat of mutually-assured destruction, the Gone-Away World begins. After a brief opening chapter set in the book's present, the story jumps into the past and covers events from the narrator's childhood up until the beginning of the book. While this narrative tactic results in almost exclusively entertaining events, it really only makes sense after the massive mind-screw plot twist toward the end of the book. About halfway through this section of the book, I started getting bored, because I was wondering when the first chapter would become relevant again. Then the plot twist made it all worth it. It's the sort of plot twist that would ordinarily be a horrible device; Harkaway manages to pull it off because it actually makes the book make more sense. What was, up until that point, seemingly an exercise in random autobiographical anarchy becomes relevant to both the plot and The Gone-Away World's chilling themes about dehumanization in the face of bureaucracy. And here Harkaway shows why he's on the level of Douglas Adams. Adams was an extremely funny writer who managed to produce scathing satires of British bureaucracy (think Vogons). Harkaway does the same with his massive Jorgamund Corporation, and he also manages to throw in ninjas and mimes for good measure! Like Adams, his humour subtly reinforces the book's themes. What themes? As mentioned above, much of The Gone-Away World attacks bureaucracy. The major antagonist is what the protagonist terms a "type A pencil-neck": "a person so entirely consumed by the mechanism in which he or she is employed that they had ceased to exist as a separate entity". The book goes on to explore how some people use cognitive dissonance to keep their humanity intact in dehumanizing lines of work, whether they are appallingly destructive or just mindlessly tedious. The Gone-Away World isn't merely about retaining one's humanity in the face of external threats like Stuff; it's a cautionary tale about unintentionally sacrificing one's humanity in the name of doing good. I like it when I read a book that's obviously well planned, where each piece of the narrative supports the others. I love it when I don't realize how well-planned a book is until a sudden reveal near the end. As long as the journey along the way is enjoyable, it's a much more rewarding experience. The Gone-Away World is unquestionably a long, rambling story. But it all comes together in the end. There are Crowning Moments of Awesome and genuine moments of peril for the protagonist, moments when you wonder how he could possibly win against the odds.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Phrynne

    What an enjoyable book. There is no way I can even begin to describe what it is about. In fact the main story takes second place to the wonderful characterisations and the little interludes when the author takes time off to write almost irrelevant but still entertaining back stories. It is a book where the reader has to concentrate the whole time or risk missing something vitally important. And then when the major twist occurs towards the end it makes you feel like going back and reading the who What an enjoyable book. There is no way I can even begin to describe what it is about. In fact the main story takes second place to the wonderful characterisations and the little interludes when the author takes time off to write almost irrelevant but still entertaining back stories. It is a book where the reader has to concentrate the whole time or risk missing something vitally important. And then when the major twist occurs towards the end it makes you feel like going back and reading the whole thing again with the new information which has just been made available to you. Clever and amazing and definitely an author I will read again.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Darwin8u

    I'll review more later, but I loved it. Felt a bit like John le Carré's heart (obvious since Harkaway is LeCarre's son) mixed with a bit of Neal Stephenson's over-the-top, throw in everything narrative flourish and China Miéville's New Weird characters. All of this with a narrative drive and a quirkiness that is all Nick Harkaway's own. I liked its boldness, funkiness, etc. Doesn't mean it was perfect and there were parts that didn't quite connect. I'd probably give it a 4.5 star if I could divi I'll review more later, but I loved it. Felt a bit like John le Carré's heart (obvious since Harkaway is LeCarre's son) mixed with a bit of Neal Stephenson's over-the-top, throw in everything narrative flourish and China Miéville's New Weird characters. All of this with a narrative drive and a quirkiness that is all Nick Harkaway's own. I liked its boldness, funkiness, etc. Doesn't mean it was perfect and there were parts that didn't quite connect. I'd probably give it a 4.5 star if I could divide stars that way without causing a Goodreads blackhole. I'll review more tomorrow, but for now, it is worth the money and time.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Clay Kallam

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. “The Gone-Away World” (Knopf, $24.95, there are no page numbers: too long) has a confusing hero and plenty of wheels within wheels, but Nick Harkaway is simply too in love with his own cleverness in this wordy, overlong work that has mile-wide holes in the plot. Harkaway is amusing for a while, and his premise that the world has been unalterably changed by a war that has divided the planet into “safe” and “unsafe” is interesting – but his grasp of geography seems no firmer than his grasp of incid “The Gone-Away World” (Knopf, $24.95, there are no page numbers: too long) has a confusing hero and plenty of wheels within wheels, but Nick Harkaway is simply too in love with his own cleverness in this wordy, overlong work that has mile-wide holes in the plot. Harkaway is amusing for a while, and his premise that the world has been unalterably changed by a war that has divided the planet into “safe” and “unsafe” is interesting – but his grasp of geography seems no firmer than his grasp of incidents that clearly involve two people but later are determined to have involved one. The end-of-the-book revelations about mimes and other odd characters also come out of nowhere, but much could have been improved by merely trimming the book by a hundred pages or so.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    If I had asked someone to write a book tailored specifically to my interests, attention patterns, sense of humor, and favorite writing style, while including a unique plot, unpredictable and engaging characters, and a post-apocalyptic setting unlike one I've ever seen before, they might have come up with Nick Harkaway's The Gone-Away World. Certainly, they could do no better. The Gone-Away World falls exactly into a certain category of novels that is impossible to describe. I could try: It's abo If I had asked someone to write a book tailored specifically to my interests, attention patterns, sense of humor, and favorite writing style, while including a unique plot, unpredictable and engaging characters, and a post-apocalyptic setting unlike one I've ever seen before, they might have come up with Nick Harkaway's The Gone-Away World. Certainly, they could do no better. The Gone-Away World falls exactly into a certain category of novels that is impossible to describe. I could try: It's about a gang of soldiers-cum-truckers who are called on to put out a fire in the real-world-sustaining Pipe, assisted by a troupe of mimes and also some Indian runner ducks. It's about Harkaway's protagonist and his best friend, Gonzo, who grow up in a tiny town called Cricklewood Cove under the protection of the School of the Voiceless Dragon and a surprisingly clever headmistress, and get into hijinks that occasionally involve pyrotechnics and college, and accidentally going to war. It could also be about what happens when the world is made to Go Away by dint of a new and untested anti-bomb, and the strange circumstances that the survivors need to navigate, using pigs, some very nasty gong-fu, and the disturbingly odd and possibly anagrammatical Dr. Andromas. And that's not even mentioning the strangest love quadrangle in fiction or the tribulations of wartime sheep. Amid all of the ridiculousness, Harkaway manages to pick out a compelling storyline that is strangely believable. More than that, he is downright insightful - not in the profound, "dust unto dust" way, but in a more relatable, everyday sense. Describing horror and disgust: "I feel as if I have overturned a stone, expecting insects, and discovered that the stone itself is nothing but a vast mass of bugs." It's impossible not to know what he means. The whole book is like that - descriptions that are somehow exactly right, but have never been named before. A review of this book is probably not complete without mention of the twist, but I won't say more than that it's clever and brilliantly executed, and it makes reading it a second time absolutely necessary. I really can't put enough accolades here. I know that lots of people won't like The Gone-Away World (too roundabout, not standard, utterly ridiculous), but like I said at the start, it feels like this was written for people with my standards, and I loved all of it. It's original, laugh-out-loud funny, multi-dimensional, and engrossing. Absolutely recommended. Good lines: (side note: this book is eminently quotable. Maybe 50% of it would look good on a facebook page, so I'm not even going to try to pull up my favorites.) "Spring becomes summer, summer becomes autumn, and Gonzo and his beloved part company over her inability to comprehend the importance of muddy walks and frantic leaf kicking." "Just hearing Master Wu say 'ninja' is like hearing a concert cellist play "Mama Mia" on the ukelele. Ninjas are silly. They are the flower fairies of gong-fu and karate. they can jump higher than a house and burrow through the ground. They know how to turn invisible...and that, surely, is Master Wu's point. He is making with the funny." "It's like crying, the way wine is like water." "It takes persons of courage and unusual skill to make flapjacks at a time like this." "Perhaps Professor Derek - accursed be his name and his seed in eternity, and may giant badgers pursue him for ever through the Bewildering Hell of Fire Ants, Soap Opera and Urethral Infections - is still alive and trying to clean up his mess." I would love to quote the shrew passage here, but I might run into copyright infringement if I type out as much as I want to. Or bore people.

  16. 4 out of 5

    nostalgebraist

    How to describe this book? Well, first, the style is amazing. Abigail Nussbaum called it "a relentless barrage of Neal-Stephenson-on-acid style verbiage," which is pretty much it. I haven't enjoyed anything Stephenson has written since Cryptonomicon, but The Gone-Away World reads like what you'd get if you took the old Stephenson (the one who wrote Snow Crash and The Diamond Age) and cybernetically enhanced him -- made him better, stronger, faster, weirder, funnier, British, etc. (Though Harkaway How to describe this book? Well, first, the style is amazing. Abigail Nussbaum called it "a relentless barrage of Neal-Stephenson-on-acid style verbiage," which is pretty much it. I haven't enjoyed anything Stephenson has written since Cryptonomicon, but The Gone-Away World reads like what you'd get if you took the old Stephenson (the one who wrote Snow Crash and The Diamond Age) and cybernetically enhanced him -- made him better, stronger, faster, weirder, funnier, British, etc. (Though Harkaway lacks Stephenson's trademark techno-didacticism.) It's possibly the most enthusiastic novel I've ever read -- not enthusiastic in a obnoxious or pollyanna way, but rather possessed of a true ability to charm, an intoxication with itself that is remarkably infectious. Despite that, and despite the fact that the book is packed with big action setpieces and colorful characters, it's often remarkably boring and tedious. Why? Because of a basic tension between the tone and the content -- a tension that is apparently deliberate and kind of interesting, but nonetheless problematic. The basic mood of the book is a kind of youthful, gung-ho exuberance, a complete involvement in whatever crazy (mis)adventure the protagonist and his chums have most recently gotten themselves into. The book strives to make every such experience feel real, even hyper-real, using its showy prose not to create distance but to remove it. Again and again Harkaway's narrator describes things in the following terms: in movies (or in fictional stories) this sort of event usually feels like this, but it's happening to me right now in real life and instead of feeling like that, it feels this other way instead. It's a book that wants to distill the experience of thrilling, bracing impact -- downing a shot, taking a punch -- to its essence and then stretch out that essence to 500 pages of purely impactful narrative. One problem with this approach is simply that impact is fundamentally a localized rather than extended sort of experience. There's only so many times a book can tell you to get off your ass solider because the shit is hitting the fan RIGHT NOW and this is fucking REAL before it begins to seem like the boy who cried wolf -- before you start to wonder why all of this fan-hitting hasn't dealt more damage to the narrative status quo. A story in which the shit is always hitting the fan should be a chaotic, entropic one, one in which the usual rules of storytelling fall by the wayside as they, like everything else, become FUBAR. But Harkaway's story, though thematically concerned with chaos (and with the end of the world), is defiantly orderly. In many ways, it's a conventional and traditional adventure story -- Harkaway names Dumas and Conan Doyle in his acknowledgements -- and a proudly cheesy one, filled with ninjas and kung fu and creatively onomatopoeia'd explosions and hidden identities and lovable wise old senseis and crazy Shyamalan twists and romantic episodes that read like teen boy wish fulfillment and video-game-ish chimeric monsters and even-more-video-game-ish fight sequences. And that's the basic contradiction of the book. The narrative voice is the constant patter of a drill sergeant telling you how real everything is and how this isn't like a movie and how the book isn't pulling any punches, which sounds tedious but is actually wonderful because this particular drill sergeant is a hypereducated mad genius of charm and rhetoric. But before long you realize that the narrative is in fact not real but cartoonish, that a Hollywood movie is exactly what it's like (Harkaway worked as a screenwriter for many years before writing this, his first novel), that the book always pulls its punches and that in fact the relentless entertainingness of the drill sergeant voice is a fundamental part of the way it pulls them. Harkaway, it seems, wants to make cheesy adventure stories new again by writing them better than anyone has before, by applying more virtuosity and subtlety to them than anyone has ever thought warranted. And the virtuosity and subtlety really are there, but try as they might they can't cover up the fundamental fact that the story is a unsubtle one, high in sugar and low in nutrition, whose teen-boy Awesomeness may simply not deserve Harkaway's literary flourishes. The thinness of the content is only made more clear by its contrast with the brilliance of the presentation. Harkaway is the writerly equivalent of a chef who tries to "reinvent" macaroni and cheese by preparing and presenting it in the most gourmet way possible. In the end, it's still mac and cheese, and you end up liking the noble silliness of the endeavour more than you like the actual food, feeling more fond of the chef than you do of his creation. After finishing The Gone-Away World, I felt like I loved Nick Harkaway a lot more than I loved his book, and I eagerly look forward to the day he writes something that fully lives up to his talent. (Despite all the carping above, I rated the book five stars, because really, how could I not? Imperfect as it may be, it deserves nothing less.)

  17. 4 out of 5

    Stuart

    The Gone-Away World: Relentlessly ironic, digressive, and clever Originally posted at Fantasy Literature The Gone-Away World (2008) is a post-apocalyptic comedy/tragedy about our world before and after the Gone-Away Bombs have wiped up out much of humanity and the world we know. It is about Gonzo Lubitsch and his nameless best friend, who work for a special crew that is assigned to put of a fire along the Jorgmond pipeline, which produced the special material “Fox” that can eliminate the Stuff, th The Gone-Away World: Relentlessly ironic, digressive, and clever Originally posted at Fantasy Literature The Gone-Away World (2008) is a post-apocalyptic comedy/tragedy about our world before and after the Gone-Away Bombs have wiped up out much of humanity and the world we know. It is about Gonzo Lubitsch and his nameless best friend, who work for a special crew that is assigned to put of a fire along the Jorgmond pipeline, which produced the special material “Fox” that can eliminate the Stuff, the matter that is left over after gone-away bombs have removed the information from matter so that it no longer can form coherent form and structure. Stuff takes on the shape of the thoughts of people near it — nightmarish monsters, ill-formed creatures, and “new people.” Nightmares become real, and the world itself is a nightmare of sorts. And very soon after the story begins, we are wrenched back into Gonzo and his friend’s upbringing and bizarre early years learning kung-fu from Master Wu. The Gone-Away World is a long story that absolutely revels in its digressions and manic humor that relentlessly attacks the insanity of the military weapons mentality and the soul-destroying nature of corporations and conformity. It devotes a lot of time to ninjas and martial arts and military training, the cruel absurdity of war zones and civilian casualties, weird desert nomad tribes, and then the surreal post-apocalyptic communities of Mad Max-like survivors and predators clinging to a precarious survival. It is also about friendships and identity, as the characters fall into and out of different roles and situations, constantly shifting. Everything is maniacally sarcastic, filled with tragic irony and withering contempt for corporate rapacious greed. There are so many digressions that even the digressions have digressions. The story veers from one situation and tone to another, and then two-thirds of the way in, a shocking turn of the plot turns the entire story on its head and changes our understanding of everything that came before, and the final third of the book is truly different from what came before. The story flies through some powerful and grim examinations of war, destruction, greed, and societal collapse, and yet retains a dogged insistence on making an ironic and ultra-clever quotable comment on the whole glorious mess. It is self-indulgent and digressive and deeply morally-insistent all at the same time. The relationship of the narrator and Gonzo is a fascinating thing, and changes dramatically and suddenly mid-way through. The book could have used a much tougher editor — it’s like listening to your brilliant friend talking a mile a minute, both exhilarating and exhausting. It reminded me somewhat of Michael Chabon’s The Yiddish Policeman’s Union, with its larger-than-life characters, lengthy descriptions and elaborate language and humor. If you are in the mood for a completely different and bizarre literary SF satire on our world, this may be worth a try. The audiobook is expertly by Kirby Heyborne.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jason Pettus

    (Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com:]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.) When I first heard about Nick Harkaway's rambunctious new novel The Gone-Away World, I was so excited that I put a special reserve on it at my local library, something I rarely ever do (I instead like having the randomness of my library's "new release" shelf partly decide what books I review here, which I (Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com:]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.) When I first heard about Nick Harkaway's rambunctious new novel The Gone-Away World, I was so excited that I put a special reserve on it at my local library, something I rarely ever do (I instead like having the randomness of my library's "new release" shelf partly decide what books I review here, which I feel is closer to the way that most of CCLaP's readers discover new books too); and the reason I was so excited was that the book sounded like it was right up my alley, a smart and lengthy black comedy about a teabagger-caused apocalypse and its Mad Max aftermath, from an academically respected writer my age who has been called "breathtakingly original" by no less than William Gibson. Ah, but then I started reading it, and realized that the book is a classic example of the ol' academe bait-and-switch scam, where a novel is sold as a genre actioner but then ends up being talky and pointless; you know, kind of like if you picked up a crime novel that in its first few chapters establishes a horrific serial killer, but then spends the rest of the book watching the serial killer take a cross-country trip on a Greyhound bus while pensively staring out the window thinking about his complicated relationship with his father. That might turn out to be a fine book, don't get me wrong, but if I deliberately pick up a novel about serial killers, there better f-cking well be some serial killing; and that's exactly how I felt about this disappointing "science-fiction" book as well, one that starts out great but then quickly devolves into endless overwritten digressions about kung-fu moral lessons and childhood friendships and the like. A profound letdown, and not recommended at all. Out of 10: 4.3

  19. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    Way back in 2008, Nick Harkaway published his first novel, The Gone-Away World. This coming January his newest novel, Gnomon, will be available in the U.S., although it’ll be available in Great Britain in November and I’m seriously considering ordering it from there, since I don’t think I can wait until January. Until then, though, I’m thinking I might reread all three of his previous novels, all of which I loved. But my favorite remains The Gone-Away World. There are some books that are relative Way back in 2008, Nick Harkaway published his first novel, The Gone-Away World. This coming January his newest novel, Gnomon, will be available in the U.S., although it’ll be available in Great Britain in November and I’m seriously considering ordering it from there, since I don’t think I can wait until January. Until then, though, I’m thinking I might reread all three of his previous novels, all of which I loved. But my favorite remains The Gone-Away World. There are some books that are relatively easy for me to review: I offer a sentence or two of the plot, describe, in more detail, a character or two, talk about what it was about the book that kept me reading, maybe compare it to another book, and voila! there you have it. With The Gone-Away World, I can’t do any of those things because I want each reader to discover the joys of this outstanding first novel for themselves, without prejudice, as it were. I don’t want to reveal any plot details because they’re so cleverly laid out; except to say that you’ll probably find the book in the science fiction section of the library; I don’t want to mention the characters in anything but the most general way, so I’ll just say that they’re mostly sympathetic and always three-dimensional. The setting is a post-apocalyptic world – it’s okay to tell you that. And I can tell you that there’s a spectacular plot twist that totally changes the way you read the book. (As a result, I suspect that you’ll want to go back to the beginning and reread it, just as I did, looking for the clues that Harkaway helpfully planted for us but that we didn’t understand were clues at the time.) Reading The Gone-Away World, I was reminded of the narratively complex fiction by his father, John Le Carré, Neal Stephenson; a lot of military science fiction, including Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War; Sylvia Nasaw’s A Beautiful Mind (or perhaps the movie made from it); Robert Heinlein; Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass; and Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronices. (I’m sure there were other influences I simply didn’t catch.) Now, I’ve never met Nick Harkaway (though we are friends on Facebook)), so I don’t know if in fact he’s read (or enjoyed) any of these, but as I was reading The Gone-Away World, echoes of all of them came to mind. What I can say is that if you’re looking for an inventive, intelligent, rousing, and simply all-around terrific novel, read Nick Harkaway’s The Gone-Away World.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Henrik Andersson

    On the recommendation of Tom Holt's review in SFX, I purchased this. I've read 37 pages so far, and not that I'm comparing it to Tom Holt, but it's an incredibly hard read. Overlong, unnecessarily complex try-too-hard sentences and sudden short digressions ruin the very interesting, intriguing and original story. I'll try to read it all, but it has taken me two or three weeks of bedside reading to get to page 37, so I'll get back to you in a decade or so... *Update: I give up. I can't read it. I On the recommendation of Tom Holt's review in SFX, I purchased this. I've read 37 pages so far, and not that I'm comparing it to Tom Holt, but it's an incredibly hard read. Overlong, unnecessarily complex try-too-hard sentences and sudden short digressions ruin the very interesting, intriguing and original story. I'll try to read it all, but it has taken me two or three weeks of bedside reading to get to page 37, so I'll get back to you in a decade or so... *Update: I give up. I can't read it. I want to, but the prose is much, much too overworked. It's like he can not and will not write ""a teaspoon"" but must say it's ""a bewildering and overwrought spoonshaped lenticular consuming utensil of anthropmorphic period design"" and it's just driving me insane.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Mike Carey

    This was an amazingly entertaining book, and I wanted to give it five stars. It definitely deserves that rating for the sheer bravura of the writing, the clever ins and outs of the plot, the audacity and ambition of the ideas it throws out. It was never less than exhilarating, and some of the set pieces left me with my jaw on the ground. But. Sooooo many beautiful women introduced just to fall helplessly into the arms of the hero and his best friend. Not in love, you understand, just into the arms This was an amazingly entertaining book, and I wanted to give it five stars. It definitely deserves that rating for the sheer bravura of the writing, the clever ins and outs of the plot, the audacity and ambition of the ideas it throws out. It was never less than exhilarating, and some of the set pieces left me with my jaw on the ground. But. Sooooo many beautiful women introduced just to fall helplessly into the arms of the hero and his best friend. Not in love, you understand, just into the arms. I mean, more than half a dozen NAMED women who appear, jump in the sack with Gonzo or our hero for wild sex (with wild adjectives), and then just disappear because their narrative job is done. And it's noticeable that nominally kick-ass female characters like Sally Culpepper never actually get any ass to kick. They pose with sniper rifles while the guys do kung fu. It didn't spoil my enjoyment of the book very much. It was just an occasional speed bump that I was aware of as it juddered by. Every so often, CLUNK, ow, and then I was back in the thick of it. And the thick of it was glorious. So very, very clever - and because the twists towards the end make certain starting points inaccessible, Harkaway comes up with an absolutely fiendish way of having his cake and eating it. When you get to the bit where... well, where everything starts to make a different kind of sense, you go back and you realise how wonderful the misdirection is. And you also realise you've been faked out from a genre point of view. I mean, this *is* big-idea sci-fi, but it's also the best martial arts movie you never saw. I honestly can't wait to read Angelmaker, and I feel bad carping about the truncated female roles. I don't think it's sexism: I think it's a side effect of the band-of-brothers vibe Harkaway is setting up. And in a book that was less well written, it might attract less attention to itself. It shows up here because so much else is word-perfect.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jimbo

    This story had a lot of potential, but the telling is sadly flawed. The Gone-Away World has some brilliant ideas, but also an extremely central plot twist that has been blatently stolen from another well-known book/film. I spent half the book thinking "Nah, surely he's not gonna be that unoriginal", and then the other half of the book going "I can't believe he was". In some ways it's brilliantly written - the rhythm to the sentences and way Nick describes things reminds be a lot of Douglas Adams This story had a lot of potential, but the telling is sadly flawed. The Gone-Away World has some brilliant ideas, but also an extremely central plot twist that has been blatently stolen from another well-known book/film. I spent half the book thinking "Nah, surely he's not gonna be that unoriginal", and then the other half of the book going "I can't believe he was". In some ways it's brilliantly written - the rhythm to the sentences and way Nick describes things reminds be a lot of Douglas Adams (except Nick likes to use a lot of italics... I can work out where to put my own emphasis at least some of the time you know). On the other hand, he tries to take suspense so far it actually becomes painful and annoying. The opening chapter of this book is exciting and intriguing, but then the story goes back in time to the character's child-hood and nothing of great interest happens for about 200 pages. This pattern repeats itself, with at times the characters doing absolutely bizarre things so that the "reveal" can be delayed for another few dozen pages. I'm not convince the ending actually makes sense, and even if it does, it has one of worst cases of deus ex machina I've seen in a long while. Conclusion: If you want to write a funny book, make it silly and short. The Gone-Away World can't decide if it's nonsense or serious, so it ends up being neither and both in a not very appetizing combinbation.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Katy

    Disclosure: I received this book through the Amazon Vine program in exchange for an honest review. I read and reviewed this book in September of 2008. My synopsis: The narrator of The Gone-Away World - whose name we are never told - takes us on a wildly entertaining trip through his life and how it intersects with the rest of the world when a new weapon has unspeakable consequences. Often laugh-out-loud hilarious we are taken on a tour of his past until, a bit over half-way through the book, a st Disclosure: I received this book through the Amazon Vine program in exchange for an honest review. I read and reviewed this book in September of 2008. My synopsis: The narrator of The Gone-Away World - whose name we are never told - takes us on a wildly entertaining trip through his life and how it intersects with the rest of the world when a new weapon has unspeakable consequences. Often laugh-out-loud hilarious we are taken on a tour of his past until, a bit over half-way through the book, a strange twist takes place and the story becomes a good bit darker. I can't even give a hint about this twist or I'll ruin it for you, so I won't go any further into that. There is also a sub-plot having to do with ninjas and mimes that I never even saw coming. My Thoughts: I have noted this as a work of military science fiction, since a good bit of the story takes place while the narrator is in the military. This should not turn off people who aren't necessarily fans of military science fiction - this is an astonishly good book and I can recommend it to anyone who enjoys off-beat humour (a la Good Omens) and a good story. Don't miss this one!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Bernard

    I can't even think of what to say. I love this book, madly. The book is technically science fiction, but in the way that a unicorn is technically a horse. The writing is brilliant. Scintillatingly infused with joy. It calls to mind Joseph Heller's Catch-22, if Heller had also loved ninja and mimes. Vonnegut, without the detachment. Pratchett without the cloying quality to the whimsy. Quite simply the best thing I've read in quite some time and easily the most enjoyable book I've ever read. Ever. I can't even think of what to say. I love this book, madly. The book is technically science fiction, but in the way that a unicorn is technically a horse. The writing is brilliant. Scintillatingly infused with joy. It calls to mind Joseph Heller's Catch-22, if Heller had also loved ninja and mimes. Vonnegut, without the detachment. Pratchett without the cloying quality to the whimsy. Quite simply the best thing I've read in quite some time and easily the most enjoyable book I've ever read. Ever. And I read a lot.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Gabrielle

    Describing a Nick Harkaway novel is very tricky. A lot of what makes it great can’t really be discussed for fear of spoiling it for those adventurous enough to pick them up, as Mr. Harkaway is very talented when it comes to writing whimsically convoluted plots where every little element turns out of have a meaning when you reach the end. I also can’t lie: his books demand effort and commitment from the reader, but rest assured that it makes for a very rewarding, if at times slow, read. His prose Describing a Nick Harkaway novel is very tricky. A lot of what makes it great can’t really be discussed for fear of spoiling it for those adventurous enough to pick them up, as Mr. Harkaway is very talented when it comes to writing whimsically convoluted plots where every little element turns out of have a meaning when you reach the end. I also can’t lie: his books demand effort and commitment from the reader, but rest assured that it makes for a very rewarding, if at times slow, read. His prose is erudite and wordy, with a lot of that charming British wordplay that adds an often necessary dose of humor to the weird subject matters he likes to explore. So what can I tell you about “The Gone-Away World”? Seen through the eyes of a nameless narrator, this is the story of one man’s life, his childhood spent alongside his best friend, his education in the marital arts, his life as a university student (and political activist by association) and subsequent enrollment with a very special branch of the armed forces. It’s the story of a war, the course of which changed the world forever when a very peculiar sort of bomb detonated and redrew the map in dangerous and wonderous ways. It’s also a story about losing and finding love, and ultimately, of what it means to be real, to exist. With ninjas and mimes thrown in for good measure. This was Nick Harkaway’s debut novel, and it definitely feels less polished than “Angelmaker” (https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...), which I loved, but you can easily see that his sharpening teeth will carve something amazing. Some of the themes overlap between the two novels: weird technology, deep-running conspiracies, protagonists who definitely don’t have the whole story but who nevertheless have to do something now – and who are attracted to tough females characters who can hold their own. This is a strange, trippy, highly original, funny and cynical book, that may have a few things too many in there, to be honest, but all those things, even the superfluous ones, are interesting and thought-provoking. A post-apocalyptic story that is truly like no other, that I highly recommend to patient and adventurous readers who aren’t afraid of a challenge!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Wealhtheow

    The narrator's tone is a cross between that of Pushing Daisies, Spider Jerusalem, and Kurt Vonnegut. Trippy, stylized, rambunctious and weird, with a highly political undertone. Years ago, mankind's most fearsome weapon was invented: the Go Away bomb. Simply put, it removed its targets from existence. Completely. But what was supposed to consequence-free proved to have fall-out beyond mankind's wildest nightmares--or rather, *comprised* of mankind's wildest nightmares. After months of fighting b The narrator's tone is a cross between that of Pushing Daisies, Spider Jerusalem, and Kurt Vonnegut. Trippy, stylized, rambunctious and weird, with a highly political undertone. Years ago, mankind's most fearsome weapon was invented: the Go Away bomb. Simply put, it removed its targets from existence. Completely. But what was supposed to consequence-free proved to have fall-out beyond mankind's wildest nightmares--or rather, *comprised* of mankind's wildest nightmares. After months of fighting back intangible enemies and twisted chimera, a savior appears. The Jorgmund corporation has produced FOX, a liquid that dematerializes the unreal. With FOX constantly spraying above and about them, the remnants of humanity can go about their daily business as though nothing has changed. When the pipe that sprays FOX is attacked, only the ragtag group of ex-covert ops soldiers that comprise the Haulage and HazMat Emergency Civil Freebooting Company can save the day. But before this, the Company's shining hour, we flashback to their childhoods and training. And that's where the fun really begins. Zaher Bey and his band of raucus, piratical revolutionaries; the nature of corporations; martial arts training; belling ones windows against ninjas; the gritty horror and boredom of war; falling in love; a fleet of desperately loyal mimes--all this and more! There are some serious twists and turns in this book. Literally 350 pages in, the entire story is turned on its head--and I bought it completely. It made perfect sense. The twists, betrayals, paradigm shifts and last-minute reveals continue right until the very last few pages. THIS BOOK IS VERY EXCITING! SPOILERY SENTENCES THAT I LOVED FROM THE LAST PARAGRAPH: (view spoiler)["The world we knew is gone for good this time. The new one is beautiful and dangerous. It is *us*." (hide spoiler)]

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jason

    What a pleasant surprise this novel was. This is a post apocalyptic novel that takes place after the world has been rebuilt up partially. The unWar pretty much has unmade most of our planet and has resulted in uninhabitable areas, and gas pockets that can kill you, turn you into a monster, and simply unmake you. The story is about two men that end up like brothers at heart. There is a lot of Martial arts, ninjas, gun play and fistfights. The writing style is very high and the vocabulary is chall What a pleasant surprise this novel was. This is a post apocalyptic novel that takes place after the world has been rebuilt up partially. The unWar pretty much has unmade most of our planet and has resulted in uninhabitable areas, and gas pockets that can kill you, turn you into a monster, and simply unmake you. The story is about two men that end up like brothers at heart. There is a lot of Martial arts, ninjas, gun play and fistfights. The writing style is very high and the vocabulary is challenging at times. The story moved me. The characters are very likable. Some major twists and turns. And oh what a great ending.....I loved this book!!!

  28. 4 out of 5

    seak

    What got me to read this book was the tag line on the back saying there would be mimes and ninjas. Then I read another book by Harkaway and was blown away by his prose so this book was inevitable even though it was the first I was planning to read. Having read it, I'm not sure how much I can tell about it other than to say it will easily be one of my favorite reads this year. It's nuts, literally as insane as you can imagine when they're selling it with mimes and ninjas. It takes place in a post-a What got me to read this book was the tag line on the back saying there would be mimes and ninjas. Then I read another book by Harkaway and was blown away by his prose so this book was inevitable even though it was the first I was planning to read. Having read it, I'm not sure how much I can tell about it other than to say it will easily be one of my favorite reads this year. It's nuts, literally as insane as you can imagine when they're selling it with mimes and ninjas. It takes place in a post-apocalyptic world, at least in the current narrative portion, but I have to warn you that it's filled with flashes to the past. It's the narrative conceit here. It's not as much as Wizard and Glass (Stephen King), but it's not too far off either... You've been warned, but I think that helps knowing. This is one of those books that you have to be along for the ride, not necessarily the plot. There are so very many tangents that you have to just enjoy it. They're all over the place and not just in the fact that you're doing yet another flashback. While I'm acting like this is a bad thing, it's really not. I just know how much of a shock this kind of narrative can be. Wizard and Glass is my favorite in the Dark Tower series, so that's where I'm coming from. If you like zany characters, ninjas, weirdness, and definitely mimes in an odd-ball, off-the-wall, tangent-filled, joke-filled post-apocalypse .... then you're totally going to love this. 4.5 out of 5 Stars (highly recommended)

  29. 4 out of 5

    MrsJoseph *grouchy*

    Time on Mt. TBR: 3 years Hmmmm. I'm not sure what to say about this one. Harkaway appears very impressed with his own turns of phrase....which have the unfortuante side effect of him NEVER getting to the point. NEVER. Harkaway hates getting to the point the way most people hate taxes. He also lost the hell out of me by dropping me into what felt like 100 pages of flashback. I was reading it and suddenly realized: I don't give a shit about the characters childhoods. Book. Closed. But a friend who h Time on Mt. TBR: 3 years Hmmmm. I'm not sure what to say about this one. Harkaway appears very impressed with his own turns of phrase....which have the unfortuante side effect of him NEVER getting to the point. NEVER. Harkaway hates getting to the point the way most people hate taxes. He also lost the hell out of me by dropping me into what felt like 100 pages of flashback. I was reading it and suddenly realized: I don't give a shit about the characters childhoods. Book. Closed. But a friend who has impeccable taste loves this book...so I flipped to the end. (Thank goodness this is a DTB - you could't get this satisfaction from an ebook.) O_O O_o o_O O_O What is this sorcery???! I was shocked by how interested I was in what happened...so I have now flipped back and forth, here and there. I pretty much have read the whole book but not in order. It's ...quite the fascinating idea. Seriously. I'm entranced with a lot of this. I may even read the whole thing - I just have to put on my big girl panties and woman up to read shittons of flashback. Gosh, I hate long flashbacks.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    This is a book I loved so much and is such a big sprawling creation that it's hard to do it justice. Here are the essentials: our unnamed narrator is part of a search and rescue team that's been hired to put out a fire on the one thing saving normal human life around the earth: the Jorgamund Pipe. Why is the Pipe so essential? Not too long ago in the Gone-Away war, a new weapon was used that has made what we know as straight reality disappear and something called Stuff replace it. Stuff takes th This is a book I loved so much and is such a big sprawling creation that it's hard to do it justice. Here are the essentials: our unnamed narrator is part of a search and rescue team that's been hired to put out a fire on the one thing saving normal human life around the earth: the Jorgamund Pipe. Why is the Pipe so essential? Not too long ago in the Gone-Away war, a new weapon was used that has made what we know as straight reality disappear and something called Stuff replace it. Stuff takes thoughts, feelings, nightmares, dreams and turns them into reality--so all of the people of the world caught in Stuff have been changed into monsters (or at least that's what the still completely human folks think). The Jorgamund Corporation figured out how to manufacture an aerosol that nullifies Stuff, and so the Pipe encircles the earth, spritzing out this saving spray, providing a thin area of livable space. You might think the story is all about how the protaganist saves the world, but really it's more complicated and quirky than that. There are ninjas and fights to the death and the making of flapjacks and the saving of a small country, and love found in the midst of chaos, and a very unique friendship. The narrator is appealing in a sarcastic, cynical, observant way, but he's not that observant since he learns something quite amazing about himself towards the end. Oh, and there's a troupe of mimes that have an essential role. This is a book of tangents. Glorious, funny, clever, often not immediately relevant tangents to be savored. And whenever I'd start to wonder how everything fit together, the author would deftly bring the story back and it would make sense again. This is a book for those willing to give leeway to the author for the sake of creativity. If you are impatient with tangents and like the straightforward stuff, stay away! As for me, I was endlessly amused and fascinated and kept snickering out loud as I read.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.