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Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town
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Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town

3.52 of 5 stars 3.52  ·  rating details  ·  2,529 ratings  ·  299 reviews
With Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom and Eastern Standard Tribe, Cory Doctorow established himself as one of the leading voices of next-generation SF: inventive, optimistic, and comfortable with the sheer strangeness of tomorrow. Now Doctorow returns with a novel of wrenching oddity, heartfelt technological vision, and human pity set on the streets of Toronto today.

Alan
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Hardcover, 320 pages
Published July 1st 2005 by Tor Books (first published 2005)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Brooke
This novel contained two stories that were smushed together in a not-entirely-convincing way: a story about blanketing a neighborhood in Toronto with free WiFi, something I'd expect from author Cory Doctorow, and a story about a man whose parents are a mountain and a washing machine, a magical realism twist that I wasn't expecting. The result felt incomplete since neither story was fully fleshed out, and they just didn't seem to go together. The WiFi plot seemed like it was just a platform for t ...more
Fritz
This maddening book contains two major plot threads which happen to be, respectively, the least banal and most banal I have ever encountered:

Least Banal: The protagonist's father was a mountain and his mother was a washing machine. He is trying to save his brothers, who may or may not have been eaten by another of his brothers, a zombie whom he himself killed years earlier. I wish stories like this were spread on every morning's breakfast toast.

Most Banal: The context for the brother-hunt is the
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Magdelanye
This is one of those books that makes strenuous demands on the reader, defying classification and pushing metaphor as far as it will go. Depending on whether you throw it down in disgust or allow it to seduce you, you will love it or hate it but you cannot remain unmoved by this stunning tour de force unless you have the imagination of a pea. But then you would never have found this book.

Raised in a dysfunctional family by a remote father and a mother who provides only comfort and clean clothes,
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Juliet
A truly weird read. We meet the central character, Alan, as he prepares to move into his new apartment by sanding the floors obsessively, then rocks up on his unknown neighbours' doorstep early in the morning with coffees for everyone, and insists they get out of bed to be sociable. This is the protagonist? How can we ever empathise with him?

The story gets ever stranger as Alan's throwaway references to his father the mountain, his mother the washing machine and his nesting dolls of brothers pro
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Ruby  Tombstone [With A Vengeance]
There were some amazing beginnings in this book. Or some potentially amazing ideas. That is, they could have been amazing ideas, had Doctorow seen any of them through to completion. While that is almost the hallmark of Doctorow's novels, I found that the first three in particular were so scattered and poorly structured that the ideas themselves actually suffered. In this case there are also two main stories at play which really have very little to do with each other: the story of A and his bizar ...more
Astray Penguin
I felt the book had a lot of promise but failed to deliver on it. The story seems to just be the beginning and then comes to a climax of the side story while leaving the main completely in the dark.

I enjoyed some of the characters, but found them to act at random and be dull in general. Relationships were unexplained and why two characters team up together is just impossible to work out.

I also feel the book is too much of a political statement by the author. The more I read about the Wireless ne
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Guy
Intriguing but ultimately unsuccessful mixture of magical realism and technopunk. Doctorow does not lack for creativity, but he does lack focus... and perhaps either a good editor or the willingness to listen to the one he has. There are numerous problems: the two strands of the story don't fit together well, the narrative jumps back and forth haphazardly (at times leaving the impression that whole sections have been inadvertently left out), the ending leaves too much unresolved (in sort of the ...more
Deedee
The first 18 pages described the perfect house for a bibliophile. Yes! Walls that have bookshelves, floor to ceiling, filled with books, in every room --- perfection. I wanted to live there.

After page 18, the novel focussed on other areas. I wasn't pulled into the events post-page 18, but I was willing to give the novel some time to tell its story.

I tossed the novel when it began describing how our hero's brothers were birthed by his mother (around pages 35-40). It wasn't gross or anything lik
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Dale
First, read the description. Now you know why I had to pick this book up. It is some of the most original and unique fantasy I've read. I thoroughly enjoyed exploring the world Doctorow creates. He's also has some interesting ideas about writing. My particular favorite was the way he played with the names of his characters. That said, I did have some problems with the plot. I couldn't rap my mind around how Alan would get distracted from a family members murder, which could easily be followed by ...more
Ryun
Up until recently, I’d been avoiding Cory Doctorow’s books. Seriously! I would have these internal dialogues every time I saw one of his books at the store:

Good Me: “Hey, Cory Doctorow has a new book out. He’s supposed to be awesome.”

Evil Me: “Don’t believe the hype, you wannabe hipster. That dude is totally milking his involvement in the Boingboing.net blog phenomenon. He can’t be as ‘all that’ as they say. Nobody’s that ‘all that.’”

GM: “If you say so. I just heard he’s a good writer, is all.”

E
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Bruce
There were moments when I was thinking, 5 star book? But no... while this book was a very enjoyable read, something I was glad to read rather than having felt like I was just sort of killing time in a not unpleasant fashion, 3 star style, it has a couple of flaws.

First, it is a novel of x,y,z, and internet connectivity. The IC is a hobbyhorse of the author, but does not actually contribute anything to the plot of this book, other than to give the protagonist an excuse for a friend. Second, weak
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Christina
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Howard
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Patrick H
Cory Doctorow is somewhat famous on the Internet.

A journalist, blogger, sci-fi writer, and liberal-copyright proponent, Doctorow should know better than to write a book that makes no sense.

The main character--who is called "Alan" initially but answers to and is referred to by any masculine name beginning with A--and his siblings are all children of a mountain and a washing machine.

One of Alan's sibling is prophetic, one is undead, one is an island, and three are Russian nesting dolls.

And that's
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Patrick O'Neil
Jul 29, 2008 Patrick O'Neil rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of science-fiction/fantasy, or just plain wierd (in a good way) books
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Michael
Aldus's dad is a mountain and his mom is a washing-machine. He has six brothers. One can see into the future. One is an island. Another was evil, and is dead now. The final three can fit inside of each other like Russian nesting dolls.

As the story begins, he's moving into a new place where he plans on writing a story, although he has no idea what the story will be. He meets his neighbors, a bunch of punks who think he's extremely strange. Because he is. He's very interested in one of the girls
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Morgan
May 24, 2008 Morgan rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Morgan by: Sean Cote
Shelves: fantastical
(Because Sean Cote is evil.)

I loved the premise for the book, which was all the information I could get about it when Sean handed it to me in the midst of a barrage of props tasks for the day. I mean, who comes up with things like that? Amazing.

It started off great. I love Alan's flashbacks, detailing his life as an outsider and what it was like living at home.

But then all the technobabble entered the picture, all the stuff with the wireless access points that occupied a large proportion of the
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Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides
I first read this around the time that it was new. And even though it's only been seven years, the tech-related parts of it already feel kind of dated. Laptops are still a thing, but smartphones are so much more of a thing that it seems odd that the characters in this story are so incredulous about phones being used to do Internet stuff.

I remember being blown away at the time that I read it. The city-wide wifi network built by homeless kids and a professional dumpster diver; the name-shifting ch
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Ken
I started reading this book a couple of times, but just recently completed a successful run at it. I enjoy it - yet it wasn't quite a four-star read for me, though it was wonderfully inventive and unique.

It's a fable-like story, and that's both a good thing and a bad thing. The characters are clever on the surface, but they remain archetypal - even the more "ordinary" ones feel less like people and more like sketches. This seems largely intentional - but still, it's distancing. Like Russian nest
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James Lowe
I first listened to this in 2009 when the author read it over the course of 36 episodes of his podcast. Earlier this month something made me want to listen once more, so I tracked down and downloaded all 36 episodes again. (You can get them here: http://craphound.com/someone/2009/09/...)

I didn't remember it well, other than remembering that it's wonderfully weird. It's also quite violent and disturbing in places, which I barely remembered. What I did remember, and what was most striking this sec
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Stuart Langridge

SUMMARY:
Alan is a middle-aged entrepeneur in contemporary Toronto, who has devoted himself to fixing up a house in a bohemian neighborhood. This naturally brings him in contact with the house full of students and layabouts next door, including a young woman who, in a moment of stress, reveals to him that she has wings--wings, moreover, which grow back after each attempt to cut them off. Alan understands. He himself has a secret or two. His father is a mountain; his mother is a washing machine; a

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mina
The real rating: 3.5
I love the book, really satisfies my craving of odd stories. It's just that, I don't really understand it. I want a clear insight:
(view spoiler)

A lot of bizarre things in this book: the characters, the storyline sequence, the plot.

How do you feel about the background of the protagonist: he's a man, a son of a washing machine and a mountain, with 4 pecul
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C.B. Daring
(Review written at 4am after finishing it, may come back to edit.)

I read this book in essentially two sittings over the course of several days. It’s imperfect, sometimes lacking in plot satisfaction, but absolutely captivating. In other words, it’s a fantastic account of the writing process. The protagonist Alan, refers to the story he is going to write at various points, although it is not until the final 30 pages that we begin to see it take shape.

“He went back upstairs and sat down at the ke
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LynAnne Smucker
At first I really didn't like the main character, but as the book went on I realized that part of what I didn't like about him was that he was so controlling, but in a polite sort of creepy way. However, as the book progressed, and Alan's past story unfolds you begin to understand why he is who/what he is. Strange story, lots of interesting characters, and I have no good way to say exactly what I liked, but a fasinating quirky love story in the end.
Hmpf
Strange, strange book. Almost impossible to rate, for me: I often give four stars to flawed books that have *some* parts that work incredibly well for me; I've been known to give five stars for that, even, in a few cases. But the parts of this book jar badly, sometimes, and the whole internet connectivity theme feels shoehorned-in and distracts from the other, weirder strand of the novel. So my rating is three and a half stars, I guess, but goodreads doesn't do half-stars.
Speaking of that other
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Jenne
A guy whose father is a mountain and whose mother is a washing machine (and no, this is not metaphorical, that's really what they are, and one of his brothers really is an island and not in the John Donne way) gets involved with a winged girl and tries to bring wireless connectivity to Toronto while battling his murderous dead brother.
I am not making this up.
Kathryn
I thought this book looked like it would be a unique read. And it is. I kept reading because I truly enjoyed the author's writing style, even as I began to care less and less about the story itself. The book has two tales that it follows, the one of Alan (or any other male "A" name) and his family, while the other is about Alan trying to help set up free wireless internet for his area. The first one was interesting, for the members of the family were not made up of the usual characters. The seco ...more
Mel
Molto strano.
Ci sono due storie: nella prima Alan cerca di creare un circuito wi-fi libero nella città, nella seconda va a caccia del fratello che ha ucciso i suoi tre fratelli.
La prima è molto alla Cory Doctorow, ma non mi è piaciuta molto, l'ho trovata un po' noiosa e di sfondo alla vicenda principale (uno sfondo inutile direi).
La seconda è quella veramente geniale: Alan è figlio di una montagna e di una lavatrice, ha tre fratelli "matriosca", un fratello sensitivo e un fratello cadavere, e si
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Craig Victor
I was very excited to read this book. This contemporary fantasy novel is really spell-bounding from the blurb to the first page. Lots of mystery, that leaves you confused and begging for resolution.

Being a fantasy novel in a very contemporary setting, it is quite interesting how Doctorow spells out the metaphysics of the reality Alan was born into. Very smart.

With that said, I've finished the book, and I still am confused. I'd recommend this to anyone tech-savvy, enjoys an element of dry humor,
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12581
Canadian blogger, journalist and science fiction author who serves as co-editor of the blog Boing Boing.

He is an activist in favor of liberalizing copyright laws and a proponent of the Creative Commons organization, using some of their licenses for his books.

Some common themes of his work include digital rights management, file sharing, Disney, and post-scarcity economics.

http://us.macmillan.com
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More about Cory Doctorow...
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“All secrets become deep. All secrets become dark. That's in the nature of secrets.” 52 likes
“You know, there comes a point where you're not giving advice anymore. There comes a point where you're just moralizing, demonstrating your hypothetical superiority when it comes to doing the right thing. That's not very fucking helpful, you know. I'm holding my shit together right now, and rather than telling me that it's not enough, you could try to help me with the stuff I'm capable of.” 8 likes
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