Culture / The Saint

Cory Doctorow’s “Walkaway” does not disappoint

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Story by Ty Smith, Staff Writer
Photo courtesy of Goodreads.com

One of the best things about Cory Doctorow is that he’s weird. Not normal weird, not that he’s weird as a person (I don’t know him, so I wouldn’t know), but as a writer? He’s weird in the best way. He’s weird in that he’s thought everything through, done all the calculations, and presents to you a world that isn’t just amusing and plausible, but something that seems real. His novels feel like projections instead of speculation, plausible in a way no other writer can make their novels.

“Walkaway” is his newest novel, and it’s amazing. I almost don’t want to describe it at all, because doing that will ruin the wonderful experience of exploring it for the first time. But this is a book review, so I have to at least tell you the premise.

Here goes. “Walkaway” is a story about abandonment. It’s a story about giving up the old and sure thing for something new, scary and wonderful. Set in the near future, the world is a terrifying mess. Think of taking every newspaper headline — refugees, global catastrophes, you name it — and fast forwarding a couple decades, and you’ll know exactly how the world of Walkaway works.

Now enter Hubert, Etc. (who is called that because of his 19 middle names) and his close friend Seth. They’re poor, slightly older partygoers who are still trying to hold onto their youth. They’re barely surviving in a simultaneously post-scarcity and full dystopian society, making it day to day and not much else. They show up to a “Communist Party,” which is a glorified industrial rave thrown by Natalie, the rebellious daughter of rich parents.

Cops show up. Drones come in. Bad stuff happens. Natalie, Hubert and Seth flee and decide they’re sick of society, society’s rules, and they’re just going to walk away. They’re not the first people to do that.

Most people in this world live in “Default”, as in the default reality of cities, bills, everything we have today. But in between those bastions of the old order are millions of miles of something better. Fields, wildflowers, entire abandoned cities. And in Doctorow’s novel, it’s into these spaces where the world’s smart, capable or angry people have gone.

It’s right about here I’m going to stop talking specifics, because after this we get past the introduction and into the real meat of the novel. I promise you, the rest of the novel is amazing. Sometimes it feels like it’s a series of philosophical treatises stitched together with drone fights and sex. It’s like a Michael Bay movie if all the explosions were of the emotional variety. But the philosophy is interesting and never boring. It’s almost like an anti-“Atlas Shrugged”, a philosophy that turns into a novel instead of a novel that turns into philosophy.

“Walkaway” is a novel for the nerds. It’s about the outcasts and those who don’t fit in, it’s about philosophy and society, but most of all, it’s for anyone who has felt rejected by the world, and anyone who wants more.

About the Writer:

Ty SmithTy Smith is from a small town located in the thumb of Michigan. He loves writing, reading, music, and video games. He also believes that cats are better than dogs.

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