Wesley George's Reviews > Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town

Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town by Cory Doctorow
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M_50x66
's review
Mar 20, 12

bookshelves: cyberpunk, kindle
Read in March, 2012

I discovered Doctorow after reading his essay "The Coming War on General Purpose Computing" http://boingboing.net/2011/12/27/the-...

When I found that he had a number of novels, all licensed CC and therefore free to download, I pulled the entire set onto my kindle mainly out of curiosity, and I've been happy with most of the other stories I've read. Most of his stuff is thoughtful and thought-provoking, and attractive to computer/networking geeks like me because he speaks our language-- correctly(!) which is a bit uncommon of even the most well-researched authors.

However, he's clearly a better short-story author, as he doesn't appear to have the attention span or focus for this longer-form story. This story shifts back and forth between the present and various parts of the past for flashbacks from several of the characters, and most of the time there is no discernible reason for the shift. Perhaps they make sense to the author, but they almost never made sense to me. It's supposed to be for backstory and character development, but other than establishing that a character has secrets in their past, it raises more questions than it answers, and really doesn't tie up many loose ends.

After reading this book, I *STILL* don't know why several of the characters' backgrounds were what they were. He never explains why Mimi has wings, why Alan's parents are apparently a mountain and a washing machine, why his brothers are grotesquely not human and/or nesting dolls and perpetually trying to kill him and others, and why he's seemingly normal amongst all of this, except for a mild ability to regenerate. It's like a rejected X-men plotline, "a land full of misunderstood mutants who are ashamed of what they are..." and if he had just owned that concept, perhaps the suspension of disbelief might have been easier, and I wouldn't have been hoping for some explanation the entire way through the book and its jump-cut flashbacks. Maybe without the russian doll brothers and the mountain/washing-machine absurdity it might have worked, but instead it just left me frustrated. Skip this one and read his short stories.

I thought that there was some excellent commentary about the broken business models of Telcos, but the WiFi storyline doesn't really work any better than the rest, and as other reviewers have commented, seems forced into the story as a way to get exactly that commentary across.
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