By Cory Doctorow
In the near-future Toronto’s social and political fabric is coming apart.
“Default” is the name given to the prevailing system, a security state with an entrenched uber-class of superrich (known as “zottas”).
Those who reject default are called walkaways. They are mostly young people who have chosen to abandon capitalism in order to build a new communal society based on free love, respect for the environment, and the ability of 3D printers to provide for all of life’s needs.
Natalie, a zotta heiress, is one such walkaway, and the story focuses on her adventures among her newly adopted family and the efforts made by her zotta dad to get her back. You see, default can’t tolerate alternative paradigms. And then there are these stories that the walkaways have found the secret of eternal life . . .
The label most often attached to Doctorow’s brand of SF is “optimistic,” and in Walkaway he’s that and then some. In his vision of the future not only are people basically good but there are no limits to what they can accomplish. We will live in a post-scarcity world where we are able to fashion our own reality and even, literally, create a new heaven and earth.
You can criticize Doctorow’s vision on a lot of different grounds – and I would – but you can’t knock its imaginative boldness or the energy and conviction with which he puts it forward. Walkaway is his fullest, most important book so far, and a lot of fun even to disagree with.