Walkaway by Cory Doctorow

This was a book on my Kindle. I’m sure I put it there because of my enjoyment of Little Brother. I needed something other than Discworld to read on vacation.

Published: 2017

Genre: science fiction

Length: 384 pages

Setting: mostly Canada, near future

Summary: Short version: A new society develop by walking away from the economic rat race

Long version: Natalie, a zotta (super-rich) kid, meets Seth and Etcetera at a party. After a night of talking, they all decide to join the walkaways. These are people who have walked away from the default life of jobs and money and possessions. They soon meet Limpopo who teaches them how to function in walkaway society. Unfortunately, the default zottas think the walkaways are threatening their way of life. The walkaways have released technology to scan your brain and allow someone to live as a simulation of themselves. Walkaway camps are attacked and destroyed. The core group just continues to walk away, at least until Natalie, now known as Iceweasel, and Limpopo are kidnapped. We jump ahead and Limpopo has been found in a Kingston prison. A group heads up to see her and there a major confrontation between default and walkaway at the prison.

Final thoughts: This very much felt like a Cory Doctorow novel. Doctorow has a couple of themes he likes to explore which were very much in evidence in this book. One of those themes is how technology is being used to watch your every move. In default, that was used for control. In walkaway, everything was just shared for information.

The other theme he hit hard on was how the underpinnings to our economy aren’t sustainable. Doctorow provided the walkaways as an alternative. In default, only the zottas had enough resources to live comfortably. Very often, it was cheaper to buy a business and shutter it than run it. Great for the zottas, not so much for everyone else. The walkaways too unused resources, from raw materials to buildings to technology to people, and put them to use. I felt the whole book came across as a bit too preachy. Default was awful and walkaway was awesome. Sure, walkaway worked for the 20-somethings. What about the elderly, or families, or the sick? They showed up in the last section of the book, but I still felt like he glossed over large sections of society that have a harder time just walking away.

Doctorow also thought everything would be solved by uploading your brain to the cloud. All I can think about is how much computing power it would take to simulate that many people. I can see that sharing the technology would be better than allowing the rich to control it. There’s a taste of how it might change society at the end of the book.

Title comes from: The alternate society called themselves the walkaways because that’s what they did to default society and conflict

Reading challenges fulfilled: book #68 for 2019

If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!

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