So The Gone-Away World is set at an unidentified point in the future when there has been a catastrophic war which has left the world seriously damaged. The trigger for the story is a fire and explosion at an important facility which our protagonist (who doesn’t have a name as this is all first person) and his friends and colleagues are summoned to sort out. We then flashback to the early life of our guy and his best friend Gonzo to explain the background to how we got to this point, before the story moves forward. It’s post-apocalyptic science fiction of the very best kind.
Why did I want to read it?
I was vaguely aware of this novel when it came out in 2008 and it’s been hovering around my to-buy list since then but I only got a hold of it after reading and loving Angelmaker (you can read my review at that link) and wanting to read more of Harkaway’s work. The impetus for reading it now was a request from my lovely friend Silvery Dude who wanted to discuss it with me and asked if I would bring it to the top of the TBR pile (he also wants me to read the latest Harkaway, Tigerman, which I hope to get to soon). And you know, it’s my sort of thing.
What did I think of it?
Well, this is a bit special. I read the bulk of it in one sitting as I was ill and housebound and needed to keep my mind away from feeling sorry for myself, and when I say the bulk of it I mean something like 400 pages in a day; when I told Silvery Dude by e-mail that I had finished it his response was (and I quote) “Finished already? Holy shit !!” which was gratifying and amusing in equal parts 🙂
The story is totally absorbing and the whole background to narrator’s current predicament, his childhood and martial arts training, his university life and his military career, the war and his true love and the rebuilding of a world that had been significantly damaged completely captured my imagination. And then you have the main event of the story, the attempt to repair the pipeline and the thing that goes wrong followed by a complete and utter and unexpected WTF moment that makes you revisit everything you’ve read. And I got very very anxious on his behalf, hoping that it was all going to work out and would he find out what had really happened to him and who was/were the bad guy(s) and who was on his side and would there be a happy ending? Or at least a satisfactory resolution?
Totally swept along by it. Thought it was fabulous. Lots to think about and discuss. Loved it.
And bees. Again.