This is a novel of ideas which proceeds through pages of earnest conversation interrupted by cataclysmic explosions or scarcely less cataclysmic fucks after which another set of characters take up another earnest conversation until the next explosion. Chatter chatter bang bang – and this time the magic car is taking us back to the late Sixties. The counterculture in Walkaway is a very recognisable enlargement of the world according to the Whole Earth Catalog, in which technology and computers and spontaneous co-operation will combine to deliver us from evil. You reach the better world by separating from the Evil Big Daddy world through a tunnel of music, sex and drugs and when you have made this journey of rebirth you build the new Jerusalem, a shining Shoreditch on a hill.
Since I am going to be rude about the ideas, it’s worth saying right now that the novel, is much more interesting than the world that it is set in, because the novel has a couple of complex and well realised characters, among them the heroine’s evil father. And the consideration of how you deal with the existential dread of a computer program which realises it’s a human being is science fiction at its best.
But the world in which this utopia is worked out has fatal problems. [click to continue…]