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Jay Lake
Date: 2008-09-09 17:48
Subject: [books] The Gone-Away World
Security: Public
Tags:books, klog, reviews

So, a bit of a review of Nick Harkaway’s book, The Gone-Away WorldPowell's | Amazon ]. As I said before [ jlake.com | LiveJournal ], “It’s about what you would have gotten if Booth Tarkington and James Joyce had sobered up and collaborated on some post-apocalyptic cyberpunk.” That only scratches the surface of what’s going on here.

I know not everyone liked the structure of this. fjm for example said that the book she wanted to read was 300 pages shorter. I take her meaning — much of this plot arc is backstory — but I was fine with that. It’s voicy writing, and I’m a sucker for well-executed voice. The world-building wobbles between rubber science and theatre of the absurd, in a bravely unselfconscious way. But this novel is driven by character, and by the language of character. Most of all, it’s a beautiful, horrible journey.

I don’t know if Harkaway is destined to be a science fiction writer. He’s publishing with Knopf, he has a literary pedigree to match Joe Hill’s, and whatever his auctorial ambitions are, they happen to be entirely his business. But he’s at least dropped into our clubhouse for a spell, and done something which struck me as a refreshing and fascinating without committing the too-common literary sin of gross disrespect for genre’s sources and traditions. I liked the book so much that I recommended it for a Nebula, and will almost certainly do the same when Hugo season rolls around.

Originally published at jlake.com. You can comment here or there.

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User: myaineko.blogspot.com
Date: 2008-09-10 02:28 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this one.

Are you saying Joyce drank too much? Finnegan's Wake-up? :-P

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User: fjm
Date: 2008-09-10 06:37 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Driven by character? I'd be accusing him of sexism if the male characters hadn't also been cut from "Local Yokel Monthly".
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2008-09-10 11:24 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Well, yeah, they were a gang of neverneverland goobers. Clearly we have rather different opinions about this book...
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