The Gone-Away World

Nick Harkaway
The Gone-Away World Cover

The Gone-Away World


The Gone-Away World is set in something like a parallel of Earth and takes place a number of years after the Gone-Away War. The weapons used in this war were Go-Away Bombs that removed information from matter and made it disappear. These bombs, however, left behind Stuff, random nothingness that takes the form of whatever a person is thinking about. The only way to control Stuff and make life livable is a mysterious substance called Fox, which is contained in the Jorgmund Pipe, a manmade construction that encircles the world. When the Pipe catches fire, the Haulage & Hazmet Emergency Civil Freebooting Company is hired to save the universe.

The plot is one that could be dark, heavy, and complex. But in the hands of Nick Harkaway, it's not. He's not just a storyteller, he is an entertainer. The characters are multifaceted and well drawn. The world building is phenomenal. The prose is unique and captivating. The humor is witty and understated. Plus, there are pirates, ninjas, and mimes (really).

The other thing worth noting is that much of the novel feels rambly and disconnected but by the end, as everything comes together, it's all.... BAM! and BANG! and WOW! As an analogy, you kinna feel like an ant crawling over a painted canvas - oh a bit of red and here's some yellow and ah a splotch of purple. But then the perspective shifts and it's like a camera panning slowly out, revealing more and more, and you suddenly realize the canvas is actually a masterpiece by someone like Kandinsky or Pollack.

A surreal exposition on greed and memory and power and relationships, The Gone-Away World is one-of-a-kind and utterly brilliant.