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The Gone-Away World by Nick Harkaway
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The Gone-Away World (2008)

by Nick Harkaway

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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1,185696,785 (4.16)156
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» See also 156 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 69 (next | show all)
Ambitious in its coverage of genres and trivia, the novel succeeds in conveying a coherent and well-thought-out alternate pre- and post-apocalyptic universe while carrying out somewhat self-indulgent yet profound discussions/social commentaries on:
- philosophy: what constitutes a person,
- political ideology: from student activism to war,
- sciences: from how ice forms to a fantastical weapon,
- civilisations: how devastation might seem like a potential for change but somehow still reverts to the status quo,
- and so much more.

The "scientific" premise of the apocalypse-bringing bomb was crucial to my enjoyment of the book, surprising as it was so utterly fantastical yet still made perfect sense. It is so good that I cannot tell whether the bomb or the (spoiler) came first in planning the novel, i.e., this is some good plotting. It also brings up interesting questions on the interdependence of existence of things and their meanings/purposes. Side note: all the mentions of Stuff reminds me of Dust from the His Dark Materials trilogy.

As is the usual problem with a large number of characters, most were drawn superficially but everybody was fun and interesting with their specific quirks. Personal favourites include Assumption Soames - for her teaching philosophy and dedication to keeping up her Trunchbull-ian front, Elizabeth - for her strong independence and in whom I see the inspiration for Edie in Angelmaker, and Mr Wu - for his stories and musings on China's disadvantages in the space race. Soames gets a special mention for her letter which required so much redacting with a knife that the narrator coined it a zombie letter, a very apt metaphor/physical symbol of what the Go-Away bomb achieves.

Considering that the book hyped up the gong fu aspect of itself so much - setting up the ancient rivalry between the Clockwork Hand Society and the Voiceless Dragon, with a satisfying reveal - , it is nigh on impossible how well the author choreographed the fight scenes, calling to mind Matthew Reilly despite of their widely disparate writing styles. This is excellently carried over to Angelmaker, along with several clear refinements in genre, writing and characterisation. It is always admirable to see authors ongoingly refining their techniques especially when you enjoy their earlier works already. (Although I read this book second, my statement stands.)

Despite its sometimes minor distractions (star off),
- frequent italics in speech for emphasis,
- odd pacing with the main event being set up in the first twenty pages, then flashes back for the next three hundred pages, twenty pages which immediately resolved the introductory main event, then the remaining two hundred pages of building up to the endgame which happens in the last forty pages,
- some odd spellings, faze/phase, metal/mettle, are they deliberate to show that this universe is almost but not quite like ours?
the execution was done with aplomb and maintains its sense of fun throughout. Absolutely bonkers. ( )
  kitzyl | Dec 28, 2014 |
It seems like the post-apocalyptic/dystopian genre is becoming more popular lately. The bulk of these, as tends to happen, are perhaps not awful, but tend to run along similar lines, with similar characters and similar worlds; and some of these in turn spawn another wave, and etc... In any case, there are plenty of post-apocalyptic novels out there, some of them very good and well-written, classics even; most of them the usual redundancies, or vapid variations on a theme...

Agh, no. Bad! No ranting! Sorry. Sorry.

Anyway. This is not one of those books of the second type, if not exactly a classic. Its characters, writing, and world are entertaining, often comic, but not to the point of silliness. Sure, there are no end of improbable elements--evil ninjas, nightmare creatures made real, feats of heroism and villainy, and a talking mime (spokesman for the peripatetic Matahuxee Mime Combine). Which surely leaves out quite a bit, but just read the book. Anyway, like I was saying, the ridiculous cooperates nicely with the serious (death, un-war ["...some kind of hyper-violent peace in which people will die."], regular war, friendship, family, alienation, genocide, moral dilemmas...questions of identity, humanity, reality...and so on. (Yeah, the author has a degree in philosophy.) Anyway, there are goodly helpings of shenanigans and bravado, intermixed with loyalty and loss, spiced with wit and generously laced with truth. [A little much..? Sorry, it's getting on lunchtime.]

So, yeah. It's worth your time. I promise. It's a fun ride, and chances are you'll learn something as well. ( )
  -sunny- | Jul 15, 2014 |
It seems like the post-apocalyptic/dystopian genre is becoming more popular lately. The bulk of these, as tends to happen, are perhaps not awful, but tend to run along similar lines, with similar characters and similar worlds; and some of these in turn spawn another wave, and etc... In any case, there are plenty of post-apocalyptic novels out there, some of them very good and well-written, classics even; most of them the usual redundancies, or vapid variations on a theme...

Agh, no. Bad! No ranting! Sorry. Sorry.

Anyway. This is not one of those books of the second type, if not exactly a classic. Its characters, writing, and world are entertaining, often comic, but not to the point of silliness. Sure, there are no end of improbable elements--evil ninjas, nightmare creatures made real, feats of heroism and villainy, and a talking mime (spokesman for the peripatetic Matahuxee Mime Combine). Which surely leaves out quite a bit, but just read the book. Anyway, like I was saying, the ridiculous cooperates nicely with the serious (death, un-war ["...some kind of hyper-violent peace in which people will die."], regular war, friendship, family, alienation, genocide, moral dilemmas...questions of identity, humanity, reality...and so on. (Yeah, the author has a degree in philosophy.) Anyway, there are goodly helpings of shenanigans and bravado, intermixed with loyalty and loss, spiced with wit and generously laced with truth. [A little much..? Sorry, it's getting on lunchtime.]

So, yeah. It's worth your time. I promise. It's a fun ride, and chances are you'll learn something as well. ( )
  -sunny- | Jul 15, 2014 |
The world is a crazy place. Money and politics can lead to war and every war creates new technological advancements. During the Gone-Away War the worst possible weapon is created; a bomb that makes everything go away. It takes away the information from everything it touches. Little did the scientists know that the world would try and correct itself with new information pulled from the imagination.

The narrator takes us on a wild and amusing journey through his life both past and present, but is it his life?

This is an anti-war, dystopian, martial arts, alternate universe, unreliable narrator novel with mimes and pirates. The author manages to pull all these threads together to create a very enjoyable story. Nick Harkaway is the kind of writer that you would love reading no matter what he writes. His writing is descriptive and humorous.

I admit I like Harkaway’s second novel "Angelmaker" more than this one. If he keeps improving with each novel I can’t wait to read his next one. ( )
  craso | Dec 23, 2013 |
Not sure how to really categorize this book. I enjoyed it quite a bit. It was some kind of mix between Vonnegut, Heinlein, and Dumas....or something. I'm hiding the review because there were other reviews I read that had enough spoilers in them to send me in the direction of the novel. There is a twist in the book about 2/3rds of the way in and the narrator is unnamed. That is enough to give away the twist, not really before it happens, but while it is happening - which is bad enough.
I thought that the twist of the narrator being "new" was handled about as well as it could have been - but I'm still thinking about whether or not it was necessary. I guess it probably was to humanize the new people. The structure and the pacing of the novel were good enough to keep me moving along and there were many funny moments. I think it could have dug deeper in the satirical without making such easy jokes as laughing at corporate culture. That is too easy to satirize. However, I give it an enthusiastic thumbs-up. ( )
  stuart10er | Nov 5, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Nick Harkawayprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Biavasco, AnnamariaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Guani, ValentinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
The dreamers of the day are dangerous men,
for they may act their dream with open eyes, to make it possible.
This, I did.

-- T.E. Lawrence
Dedication
For my parents.
You know who you are.
First words
The lights went out in the Nameless Bar just after nine.
Quotations
The tree of nonsense is watered with error, and from its branches swing the pumpkins of disaster.
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Book description
Alternate Title: The Wages of Gonzo Lubitsch
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307389073, Paperback)

A hilarious, action-packed look at the apocalypse that combines a touching tale of friendship, a thrilling war story, and an all out kung-fu infusedmission to save the world.Gonzo Lubitch and his best friend have been inseparable since birth. They grew up together, they studiedmartial arts together, they rebelled in college together, and they fought in the Go-Away War together. Now, with the world in shambles and dark nightmarish clouds billowing over the wastelands, they have been tapped for an incredibly perilous mission. But they quickly realize that this assignment is not all it seems, and before it is over they will have encountered everything from mimes, ninjas, and pirates to one ultra-sinister mastermind, whose only goal is world domination. Unlike anything else, The Gone-Away World is a remarkable literary debut that will be remembered and rediscovered for years to come.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:23:55 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Gonzo Lubitsch and his best friend have been inseparable since birth. They grew up together, they studied kung-fu together, they rebelled in college together, and they fought in the Go Away War together. Now, with the world in shambles and dark, nightmarish clouds billowing over the wastelands, they have been tapped for an incredibly perilous mission. But quickly they see that this assignment is more complex than it seems, and before it is over they will have encountered everything from mimes, ninjas, and pirates to one ultra-sinister mastermind, whose only goal is world domination.… (more)

» see all 4 descriptions

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