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Our Discussion of Walkaway by Cory Doctorow

Hubert Vernon Rudolph Clayton Irving Wilson Alva Anton Jeff Harley Timothy Curtis Cleveland Cecil Ollie Edmund Eli Wiley Marvin Ellis Espinoza—known to his friends as Hubert, Etc—was too old to be at that Communist party.

But after watching the breakdown of modern society, he really has no where left to be—except amongst the dregs of disaffected youth who party all night and heap scorn on the sheep they see on the morning commute. After falling in with Natalie, an ultra-rich heiress trying to escape the clutches of her repressive father, the two decide to give up fully on formal society—and walk away.

After all, now that anyone can design and print the basic necessities of life—food, clothing, shelter—from a computer, there seems to be little reason to toil within the system.

It’s still a dangerous world out there, the empty lands wrecked by climate change, dead cities hollowed out by industrial flight, shadows hiding predators animal and human alike. Still, when the initial pioneer walkaways flourish, more people join them. Then the walkaways discover the one thing the ultra-rich have never been able to buy: how to beat death. Now it’s war – a war that will turn the world upside down.

Fascinating, moving, and darkly humorous, Walkaway is a multi-generation SF thriller about the wrenching changes of the next hundred years…and the very human people who will live their consequences. –Goodreads

Below are a sampling of our comments:

  • This book is intended to be a prequel to Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom – many of the same concepts, “deadheading” etc., and that the characters in Magic Kingdom have lived long enough to cheat death.
  • I struggled to get into the book – the Communist Parties!?!
  • I read it in chunks so I could think through the esoteric ideas.
  • It was very Scalzi, as in more ideas than character development.
  • There was too much jargon where we had to just infer what was being referenced.
  • “Ice Weasel” is the name of the open source version of Firefox.
  • Too much philosophizing slowed things down for pages at a time.
  • For a utopian society, it seemed like healthcare was almost nonexistent – people could teleconference with remote doctors (this is happening now), and possibly “print” medicine, but how would that work?
  • Doctorow has said that the technology in the book is “hand-wavey stuff.”
  • The time jump of 15 years was jarring because previously the book was almost day by day in the world. Also, the characters seemed to have aged 40 years instead of 15 – especially Seth and Tam.
  • This book reminded me a lot of Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Dispossessed.
  • A great quote from the book is: “Anything invented before you were eighteen was there all along. Anything invented before you’re thirty is exciting and will change the world forever. Anything invented after that is an abomination and should be banned.” ― Cory Doctorow, Walkaway

Please add any additional thoughts or comments you may have about Walkaway. We gave this title the codes DRG, IMM, POL, SEX, PHI, NFQ & UTP with an average rating of 3.5.

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