Book Review: Walkaway by Cory Doctorow

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Before I picked up a copy of Walkway lying on a street corner, the only thing I knew about Cory Doctorow was that he was the guy on xkcd that wore a red cape and goggles for no explicable reason.

 

I wasn’t sure what to expect going in, and to be honest, I’m still not certain what this book is about.

Is it about people rejecting society now that post-scarcity technology has given them the opportunity? Is it about what it means to be human, alive, to exist in a world where your mind can be uploaded into a computer? Is it about freedom of information, computer security, open source programming?

This was a part of the problem with this book, and why I didn’t entirely like it. It seemed unfocused, as if the author had many great ideas but could only crank out one book (his last adult effort was close to a decade ago.) Perhaps it’d work better as a series of short stories, instead of trying to tie all of these concepts together with a loose thread (“They’re walking away from society – and walking away from death!”)

Characters begin preaching at the drop of a hat, monologuing more than a Shakespeare character and any unique voice between them is lost. No speech patterns or verbal tics or anything distinct remains when the long-winded speeches begin, and it makes it incredibly difficult sometimes to tell who is speaking when and where.

That being said, there are some good points to this book. It’s a very intelligent book, the concepts – numerous as they may be – are well-thought-out and explored in-depth. What Doctorow decides to describe is written in rich, full language, the emotions are palpable.

It’s full of computer jargon and future technobabble which may be hard for others to surmount, but can be a fun challenge for those willing to take the plunge. I recommend having a friend in computer science on retainer to ask questions, or be prepared to google and a lot.

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Wikipedia can’t help you now! (okay, this one isn’t too bad.)

I’m not sure if I’d recommend this book, I was no huge fan myself. It wasn’t what I was expecting or hoping for, but I certainly stuck around for the ride.

 

See Also:

Book Review: The Lies of Locke LamoraBook Review: The Girl Who Drank the Moon

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