Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:
In a world wrecked by climate change, in a society owned by the ultra-rich, in a city hollowed out by industrial flight, Hubert, Etc, Seth and Natalie have nowhere else to be and nothing better to do.
But there is another way. After all, now that anyone can design and print the basic necessities of life - food, clothing, shelter - from a computer, there is little reason to toil within the system. So, like thousands of others in the mid-21st century, the three of them turn their back on the world of rules, jobs, the morning commute and... walkaway.
It's a dangerous world out there, the empty lands are lawless, hiding predators - animal and human alike. Still, when the initial pioneer walkaways flourish , the thousands become hundreds of thousands, building what threatens to become a post-scarcity utopia. But then the walkaways discover the one thing the ultra-rich have never been able to buy: how to beat death. And now it's war - a war that will turn the world upside down .
Originally published: 2017.
In a world wrecked by climate change, in a society owned by the ultra-rich, in a city hollowed out by industrial flight, Hubert, Etc, Seth and Natalie have nowhere else to be and nothing better to do. But there is another way. After all, now that anyone can design and print the basic necessities of life - food, clothing, shelter - from a computer, there is little reason to toil within the system. So, like thousands of others in the mid-21st century, the three of them turn their back on the world of rules, jobs, the morning commute and... walkaway. It's a dangerous world out there; the empty, lawless lands are hiding predators - animal and human alike. Still, when the initial pioneer walkaways flourish, the few become many, building what threatens to become a post-scarcity utopia. But then the walkaways discover the one thing the ultra-rich have never been able to buy: how to beat death. And now it's war - a war that will turn the world upside down.
Reviews provided by Syndetics
Library Journal Review
In Doctorow's (Little Brother) near future, all our needs can easily and cheaply be satisfied with advances in computing and 3-D printing technology. But the gulf between rich and poor is getting larger, prompting the disaffected to "walk away" from society. Natalie, Seth, and Etcetera are three such walkaways, leaving Toronto with packs on their backs and a determination to find a better way to live. They meet up with other like-minded individuals who reside in communes, pooling knowledge and resources. The superrich they left behind are simply not willing to let walkaways exist, especially as their technological advances promise to defeat death itself. Doctorow has envisioned a fascinating world on the brink of post-scarcity. His characters philosophically muse on topics such as inequity, the nature of human consciousness, gender identity, and the idea of the greater good. But there is just enough action to leaven all that philosophy. VERDICT This intriguing take on a future that might be right around the corner is bound to please Doctorow's many fans. [See Prepub Alert, 10/10/16.]-MM © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
Doctorow (Homeland) expects more patience for superfluous eccentricities than many readers may be able to provide in this unengaging novel set in 2071. For example, his opening sentence begins with the name of a character ultimately referred to as Hubert, Etc., whose full name is 22 names long because his parents decided, for no logical reason, to give him as his middle names the "top twenty names from the 1890 census." There's also awkward prose ("The beer was where the most insouciant adolescents congregated, merry and weird as tropical fishes"), odd phrases that sound clunky rather than plausibly futuristic ("authoritarian enclobberments"), and goofy aliases (Gizmo von Puddleducks, Zombie McDingleberry). Collectively, these authorial indulgences-along with underdeveloped world building and unmemorable characters- serve mainly to distance readers from his creative premise: a near-future where the rich are on the verge of achieving immortality, a development that one character fears spells the "end of morality," and rebels, known as walkaways, attempt to create a functioning gift economy. (Apr.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
*Starred Review* In a world where scarcity is artificial thanks to the ability to 3-D print food, clothing, and shelter the hyper-rich zottas are only getting richer, and there's no advancement in the workforce. So, the disenfranchised and unsatisfied simply . . . walk away. This has varying degrees of success, and as communities grow and develop new ways of thriving, the inhabitants of the default mode grow increasingly threatening. We follow these developments primarily through the viewpoints of a young woman, born a zotta, who calls herself Iceweasel; a young man with so many names he goes by Etcetera; his friend, Seth; and Limpopo, who is one of the architects of a particularly successful approach to Walkaway. The powers-that-be in default periodically destroy too-successful Walkaway communities, but when the Walkaways find a way to cheat death through computing which is the last out-of-reach dream of the zottas the violence increases. Doctorow's characters are all rough edges and awkwardness, with challenging and conflicting viewpoints, in a way that makes them memorable and engaging. One of the interesting thematic things Doctorow does here is to engage with the reputation economy concepts of his first novel, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom (2003). The sweeping epic, which covers decades of Walkaway life despite some difficult-to-read but entirely believable character trauma is ultimately suffused with hope.--Schroeder, Regina Copyright 2017 Booklist
Kirkus Book Review
Doctorow (Information Doesn't Want to Be Free, 2014, etc.) offers a counterintuitive alternate (possible?) future in this gritty yet hopeful sci-fi epic.Inspired by Rebecca Solnit's A Paradise Built in Hell (2009), Doctorow offers meticulous worldbuilding and philosophizing about how the world just around the corner might be. In an age of makers, 3-D printers, mobile fabricators, and endless food sources, the book asks what life would be likeor should be likein a post-scarcity, post-employment world. The short answer is the rich have gotten insanely richer and everyone else has chucked itwalking away from society to live communally in environmentally gutted rural areas and dead cities. Our entry into this new societal framework is multinamed Hubert, known as Hubert, Etc., his pal Seth, and their new friend Natalie Redwater, the daughter of a member of the 1 percent. In the wilds of Canada, they fall in with a tech-savvy barkeep, Limpopo, who explains the precarious, money-less walkaway culture to the newbies: "In theory, it's bullshit. This stuff only works in practice." It's a world where identity, sexuality, and perception are all fluid, enlivened by fiercely intellectual debates and the eternal human collisions that draw people together. Visually and culturally, it's also a phantasmagorical scene with beer made from ditch water, tactical drone fleets, and the occasional zeppelin or mechall technology that exists today. The tense situation escalates when the walkaways discover a way to scan and preserve consciousness onlineif the body is gone, does perception remain? What threat might a tribe of immortal iconoclasts present to their capitalist overlords? Much of the novel focuses on Natalie (now "Iceweasel"), who is kidnapped by her father's mercenaries. Doctorow sticks the landing with a multigenerational saga that extends this tale of the "first days of a better nation" to a thrilling and unexpected finale. A truly visionary techno-thriller that not only depicts how we might live tomorrow, but asks why we don't already. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.