Cory Doctorow--Internet doyen and successful author in a range of genres, from YA novels like Little Brother to the nonfiction manifesto Information Doesn't Want to Be Free--returns to adult fiction with Walkaway. The novel opens in a dystopia where bantering malcontents Seth, Natalie and Hubert, Etc. (so nicknamed for his 20-odd middle names) meet at a "Communist party"; they flirt with counterculture ideas while dodging the watchful eye of the establishment. When the party ends in tragedy, the trio is inspired to drop out of society and join the "walkaways," a group of people resembling technophilic hippies in their idealism and revolutionary lifestyle. Each character finds his or her place among the dreamers after making the harsh adjustment to a society organized in direct counterpoint to the dog-eat-dog, wildly unequal capitalist norms of what they come to refer to as Default.

The walkaways' idealism is supported by nearly miraculous technological achievements--they live in a "post-scarcity" society where questions of food and shelter are more or less solved by printers capable of manufacturing almost anything at a moment's notice. They even seem to have cracked a problem that Default's hyper-rich "zottas" have failed to solve for years: how to live forever. That discovery prompts a vicious crackdown from Default, escalating quickly into a war pitting hacktivist egalitarians against tyrannical robber barons.

Walkaway is awash in unrestrained nerdery. Doctorow is teaching, but he's also having fun, and it's a pleasure to watch him twist the two together. --Hank Stephenson, bookseller, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, N.C.

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