Friday, 7 July 2017

Walkaway A Novel by Cory Doctorow.

Man. To me the title evokes an aborgine walkabout, "Walkaway" published by Head of Zeus Ltd (2017). The book starts with a scene that introduces a near post scarcity world and some of the main protagonists. The first chapter is titled "communist party", and the setting is a party where the theme is the gift furniture manufactured from 3D printers using surplus manufacturing material, so it gets called a communist party. The chapter title is a play on words, a joke. I disliked the scene intensely, because of its "ist & ism" terminology and its Bret Eston Ellis "Less than Zero" feel. I've met and lived with people who talk using "ist & ism" words and so far they have been mostly bullshit. Strong negative reaction. So I put the book down and did something else.

Later I picked it up again, and got through the first chapter to the second chapter "You all meet in a tavern" and I like "Order of the Stick" and I think I am a funny guy, despite the opinion of others, obviously. So OK, I get what the chapter title is doing and persevere, and it starts to get good.

Its about future hippies (those damn kids, get of my land lords lawn!) an anti establishment movement in a near post scarcity society that relies on uploadable schematics for 3D printers as their source of technology, from building materials and electronics to antibiotics (silver) and clothing. It discusses ideas of ownership and sharing, the language used is a mix of contemporary slang with a futuristic language based around data sharing, using acronyms to describe human relationships. There are action sequences with power suits and militarized drones and plucky outgunned rebels. It dwells on biology and why people do things, page 60 describes drinking a cup of future coffee as "The first cup of coffium danced hot in her mouth and its early-onset ingredients percolated into her blood stream through the mucus membranes under her tongue" (Doctorow page 60 : 2017), so obviously I am going to now google if there are mucous membranes under our tongues.

And apparently there are, they are called the frenulum. Also, perhaps not completely unrelated to the passage described on page 60, there are sex scenes, I mean, you're not going to read the book for the sex scenes but they are there. So, you know, that's, that is nice.

Oh. oh right. Those scenes are not about sex but love, Man, what is wrong with me that it took me so long for me to get that. Ah well, we live and learn.

The book concludes with an epilogue that  presents a particular kind of utopia, that I think is brave, in the sense that it does go against quite strong and rational contemporary values and ideas of what constitutes life.

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