The Gone-Away World
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The Gone-Away World

4.17 of 5 stars 4.17  ·  rating details  ·  5,541 ratings  ·  1,039 reviews
The Jorgmund Pipe is the backbone of the world, and it's on fire. Gonzo Lubitsch, professional hero and troubleshooter, is hired to put it out, but there's more to the fire, and the Pipe itself, than meets the eye. The job will take Gonzo and his best friend, our narrator, back to their own beginnings.
Hardcover, 531 pages
Published June 2008 by William Heinemann
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Sep 05, 2011 Nick rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  (Review from the author)
One of the most bizarre and uncomfortable things in the world: being asked to rate one's own book. I'm giving it five stars out of love. I accept that you might differ :)
mark monday
Kurt Vonnegut Jr! T. Coraghessan Boyle! Joseph Heller (maybe)! Tom Robbins! and now it appears that Nick Harkaway can be added to the list of humanistic, cynical, insanely creative authors who truck in wild & wooly tales that blur the boundaries between reality & fantasy and are filled with enormous digressions, bizarre conundrums, slippery plot twists, and the kind of dark irony that feels like a surprise smack to the head.

>the following review contains the occasional spoiler, sorry<...more
dear jasmine,
you and i are so diametrically opposed in all things literary. i swear i am not rating this on the lower side just to retaliate for your not loving winshaw legacy. if the truth be told, it's higher than a three, but i feel like i give out a lot of fours, and i think i may have failed this book rather than this book failing me. failing like the way i am going to fail this computer class - i.e. - spectacularly. it had a lot of things to make me respond positively - there were some tru...more
DAG. Nick Harkaway is well into his third pint and his eleventh story when he looks around and realizes he's got half the bar hanging on his every word, and THAT's when he leans back a little, stretches his legs, and gives you a three-page backstory on a minor idiot whose chief role in the book is getting punched in the head. Because, and this is a rule, so pay attention: punching an idiot in the head is funny, not to mention satisfying, but the road that an idiot travels on his way to getting p...more
Carol. [All cynic, all the time]
May 04, 2013 Carol. [All cynic, all the time] rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Vonnegut fans, fans of single narrators, word-and-idea-smiths

It is probably good for both of us that GR reviews have a character limit. For me, so there is a limit on my copyright violations. For you, so you won't have to read every line that I found amazing, remarkable, thoughtful, or funny. It took me two reads to compile my thoughts on The Gone-Away World, and I'm not sure we're done with each other yet. It's one of those kinds of books that offers more each time through. Not the lull of a comforting, familiar read, but the folds of the "ah-ha!" kind o...more
Tattered Cover Book Store

Not since "Catcher in the Rye" have I felt that a book was written specifically for me. Not that much is really shared between them, except they are those rare books that brim with complete and utter awesomeness. They were also that exact book I needed to read at that exact point in life.

Upon reading the cover flap I thought I was in store for something a bit pulpy and moderately derivative. This is something I usually don't mind since I am very fond of g...more
What an enjoyable book. There is no way I can even begin to describe what it is about. In fact the main story takes second place to the wonderful characterisations and the little interludes when the author takes time off to write almost irrelevant but still entertaining back stories. It is a book where the reader has to concentrate the whole time or risk missing something vitally important. And then when the major twist occurs towards the end it makes you feel like going back and reading the who...more
Mar 26, 2012 Emily rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people inclined toward the offbeat
If I had asked someone to write a book tailored specifically to my interests, attention patterns, sense of humor, and favorite writing style, while including a unique plot, unpredictable and engaging characters, and a post-apocalyptic setting unlike one I've ever seen before, they might have come up with Nick Harkaway's The Gone-Away World. Certainly, they could do no better. The Gone-Away World falls exactly into a certain category of novels that is impossible to describe. I could try: It's abo...more
I was initially excited to read this book because I love post-apocalyptic fiction and because the first reviewers of the book seemed to think it was a wonderful work of fiction. The publishers gave Harkaway a little over $535,000 to write the book, so I was hoping that there was a reason for it other than that Harkaway is the son of famous author John le Carre.

Unfortunately, I found myself thinking the publishers got a raw deal since the problems I had with the first 2 pages continued throughou...more
Ben Babcock
The genius of The Gone-Away World sneaks up on you in a loud and bombastic way. Nick Harkaway's writing reminds me two Douglases who are masters of the absurd and apocalyptic: Douglas Coupland and Douglas Adams. Sardonic and observant, Harkaway tosses off scene after scene of unrelenting zany fun. Yet when the smoke clears and the score is tallied, The Gone-Away World is ultimately, like JPod or The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, about what it means to be human.

The title of the book comes fro...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 28, 2012 Katy rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of stories with a strange/humorous bent
Recommended to Katy by: Amazon Vine
Shelves: vine-book
Disclosure: I received this book through the Amazon Vine program in exchange for an honest review. I read and reviewed this book in September of 2008.

My synopsis: The narrator of The Gone-Away World - whose name we are never told - takes us on a wildly entertaining trip through his life and how it intersects with the rest of the world when a new weapon has unspeakable consequences. Often laugh-out-loud hilarious we are taken on a tour of his past until, a bit over half-way through the book, a st...more
Dec 16, 2008 Bernard rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: own
I can't even think of what to say. I love this book, madly. The book is technically science fiction, but in the way that a unicorn is technically a horse.

The writing is brilliant. Scintillatingly infused with joy. It calls to mind Joseph Heller's Catch-22, if Heller had also loved ninja and mimes. Vonnegut, without the detachment. Pratchett without the cloying quality to the whimsy.

Quite simply the best thing I've read in quite some time and easily the most enjoyable book I've ever read. Ever....more
How to describe this book?

Well, first, the style is amazing. Abigail Nussbaum called it "a relentless barrage of Neal-Stephenson-on-acid style verbiage," which is pretty much it. I haven't enjoyed anything Stephenson has written since Cryptonomicon, but The Gone-Away World reads like what you'd get if you took the old Stephenson (the one who wrote Snow Crash and The Diamond Age) and cybernetically enhanced him -- made him better, stronger, faster, weirder, funnier, British, etc. (Though Harkaway...more
The narrator's tone is a cross between that of Pushing Daisies, Spider Jerusalem, and Kurt Vonnegut. Trippy, stylized, rambunctious and weird, with a highly political undertone. Years ago, mankind's most fearsome weapon was invented: the Go Away bomb. Simply put, it removed its targets from existence. Completely. But what was supposed to consequence-free proved to have fall-out beyond mankind's wildest nightmares--or rather, *comprised* of mankind's wildest nightmares. After months of fighting b...more
This is a book I loved so much and is such a big sprawling creation that it's hard to do it justice. Here are the essentials: our unnamed narrator is part of a search and rescue team that's been hired to put out a fire on the one thing saving normal human life around the earth: the Jorgamund Pipe.

Why is the Pipe so essential? Not too long ago in the Gone-Away war, a new weapon was used that has made what we know as straight reality disappear and something called Stuff replace it. Stuff takes th...more
I selected this book because it was on offer for $6 if I spent $50 at Angus and Robertson. There were 5 other books to chose from and they all looked equally unpromising. I hated the cover the blurb screamed "long, infantile sci-fi and a waste of time" but I never pass up the opportunity for a cheap book - especially if the sticker price is $38.99. I read it anyway and was completely sucked in! It's a bit of an existential mind-fuck, comparable to the novel "Vurt". Wild, stupid, fun, completely...more
Jason Pettus
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography []. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)

When I first heard about Nick Harkaway's rambunctious new novel The Gone-Away World, I was so excited that I put a special reserve on it at my local library, something I rarely ever do (I instead like having the randomness of my library's "new release" shelf partly decide what books I review here, which I...more
David Hebblethwaite
The Jorgmund Pipe is on fire. It shouldn’t be, because it was designed to be the most resilient structure ever built by humans; but then again, the very notion of things that should or should not be looks kind of quaint in this future. The Pipe is vital because of what it carries around the world: a substance called FOX that keeps the Unreal at bay. The fire must be put out, and who better to do so than the people who constructed the Pipe in the first place? That small band of people are hired b...more
What a pleasant surprise this novel was. This is a post apocalyptic novel that takes place after the world has been rebuilt up partially. The unWar pretty much has unmade most of our planet and has resulted in uninhabitable areas, and gas pockets that can kill you, turn you into a monster, and simply unmake you. The story is about two men that end up like brothers at heart. There is a lot of Martial arts, ninjas, gun play and fistfights. The writing style is very high and the vocabulary is chall...more
I have no idea what to say about this book, but I feel like I have to say something. The story only makes perfect sense about once every 50 pages. most of the plot twists I couldn't predict completely...

war, apocalypse, ninjas?, heroes, reification.
Nov 29, 2009 Jimbo rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jimbo by: Katherine K
Shelves: fiction, own, sci-fi
This story had a lot of potential, but the telling is sadly flawed. The Gone-Away World has some brilliant ideas, but also an extremely central plot twist that has been blatently stolen from another well-known book/film. I spent half the book thinking "Nah, surely he's not gonna be that unoriginal", and then the other half of the book going "I can't believe he was". In some ways it's brilliantly written - the rhythm to the sentences and way Nick describes things reminds be a lot of Douglas Adams...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lori (Hellian)
This rating is misleading, there's alot going for this book. The writing is wonderful, the concept is awesome, the characters are likable altho not exactly fully realized. But I started skimming a little past the half-way mark. It's very long-winded and while refreshing and humorous I started getting impatient - get to the point already! The first half is really a meandering background past history of the main character as he comes to age so that by the time we reach the present explanation of t...more
Feb 24, 2010 Alan rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: The insufficiently-jaded reader, willing to take a mixture of joy and sorrow without blinking.
Recommended to Alan by: io9, I believe...
I had my doubts about this one, with its lurid jacket of hot pink and lime green. Good things rarely come in such colors. But early on it became apparent to me that Nick Harkaway knows his stuff. The line that really hooked me comes just a few pages in, when Harkaway's narrator says:

"I thought about my personal version of heaven, which is small and calm and features only one angel, who cannot sing."

Deft and light, mixing deadly serious events with quick-witted banter, The Gone-Away World is...more
Kevin Veale
This is my first review for GoodReads, and I've made the job harder for myself. Whenever I use review sites for anything, I tend to start out reviewing something that I found simply Staggeringly Good, which tends to create an impression that I'm just easily impressed.

And yet to put it simply, this is the best book I've read in a long time.

The second point of difficulty is that The Gone-Away World is hard to describe in a way which will, a) showcase why you should read it, b) without spoiling thi...more
Mike Carey
This was an amazingly entertaining book, and I wanted to give it five stars. It definitely deserves that rating for the sheer bravura of the writing, the clever ins and outs of the plot, the audacity and ambition of the ideas it throws out. It was never less than exhilarating, and some of the set pieces left me with my jaw on the ground.


Sooooo many beautiful women introduced just to fall helplessly into the arms of the hero and his best friend. Not in love, you understand, just into the arms...more
first of all, the cover is pink. and fuzzy. i'm not sure what this is supposed to signify, but you shouldn't be put off by it.

on the surface, this book is a sci-fi, post-apocalyptic sort of story, but like all really good books, it's much more. the sci-fi is a sort of back drop more than the reason for the story's existence. i will admit that it comes off a bit cheesy at first (read the publisher's review), but after a short while i found the characters interesting, and found myself rooting for...more
aPriL purrs 'n hisses
I am overwhelmed by how fantastically original this is and how terrific the author was in inventive and playful language indicating not only talent and a fun-cynical snarky attitude, but also with the author's courage to confront readers with a difficult, non-commercial science-fiction genre book that is challenging to read and challenging to the readers' perceptions.

The best review, though, in my opinion is Mark Monday's

I'll add that when I started this...more
Oct 06, 2008 Rachel rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Vonnegut fans, Douglas Adams fans, mimes, ninjas
This book is fantastic - it's got ninjas and circus people, gurus and mimes, crazy soldiers and even crazier weapons. It's got absolutely shocking twists (I gasped audibly multiple times), and you never know what's coming. Every once in a while it strays a little too far into the surreal, making it hard to follow, but the last 150 pages are so spectacular that I implore you to muddle through. The end it totally worth the wait. It is touching and funny and truly unique.
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The plot twist (SPOILERS) 2 27 Aug 11, 2014 02:22AM  
Beyond Reality: Finished Reading>> SPOILERS!! 14 63 Apr 14, 2013 08:05AM  
Beyond Reality: ROLL CALL and Initial Impressions>>No SPOILERS! 19 59 Apr 08, 2013 10:11PM  
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Nick Harkaway was born in Cornwall, UK in 1972. He is possessed of two explosively exciting eyebrows, which exert an almost hypnotic attraction over small children, dogs, and - thankfully - one ludicrously attractive human rights lawyer, to whom he is married.

He likes: oceans, mountains, lakes, valleys, and those little pigs made of marzipan they have in Switzerland at new year.

He does not like: b...more
More about Nick Harkaway...
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“I have known heaven, and now I am in hell, and there are mimes.” 30 likes
“Ninjas are silly. They are the flower fairies of gong fu and karate.” 23 likes
More quotes…