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The Gone-Away World

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  12,166 ratings  ·  1,788 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. ...more
Hardcover, 531 pages
Published June 2008 by William Heinemann
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John Cheeseman 12 possibly, yes its definitely got sex although not explicit, yes it has drugs, yes it has bad language and profanity and yes there was extreme viole…more12 possibly, yes its definitely got sex although not explicit, yes it has drugs, yes it has bad language and profanity and yes there was extreme violence almost all the way through.
I'd highly recommend it to most 12 year olds upwards though.(less)

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Average rating 4.11  · 
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 ·  12,166 ratings  ·  1,788 reviews

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Sep 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  (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 :) ...more
Sep 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
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<

The Gone-Aw
Oct 01, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dysto-teque, the-end
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
Everyone should read this book. It is extremely enjoyable and amazing. Harkaway writes the heck out of this book.

I can't really explain to you what this is about. That would be very difficult. It is a combination of the movies:

The Expendables (franchise)
Shogun Assassin
V for Vendetta
Real Genius
Fast and Furious (franchise)
The Karate Kid
The English Patient
Apocalypse Now
Pitch Black
Chronicles of Riddick
We Are What We Are (2013)

Along with the books:

Catch-22, Vertical Run, and, most strongly, Reamde.
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
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
Sep 15, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
I read about 35% of this last fall and had to take a break. The writing is extremely overwrought and the story (if there is one) meanders so much, I just never got into it. But most of the reviews on here are raves, and it felt like just maybe there's a payoff somewhere, like at some point the story clicks into gear and it gets good, so I never gave up on it entirely. Since then, it has been the book I pick up in between other books and I must've tried about 10 times now to get into it. But nope ...more
Describing a Nick Harkaway novel is very tricky. A lot of what makes it great can’t really be discussed for fear of spoiling it for those adventurous enough to pick them up, as Mr. Harkaway is very talented when it comes to writing whimsically convoluted plots where every little element turns out of have a meaning when you reach the end. I also can’t lie: his books demand effort and commitment from the reader, but rest assured that it makes for a very rewarding, if at times slow, read. His prose ...more
Megan Baxter
Sep 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
The Gone-Away World is a book that I enjoyed thoroughly, yet wasn't excited by. I'm not sure why - it had many of the attributes that I usually love. A certain sense of surrealism, of humour, of a meandering storyline, and threatening things just out of the edges of my vision. Yet I finished it feeling satisfied, but not thrilled. What did it need to take it to the next level? Or am I being too demanding? Is this feeling of deep-down satisfaction, in itself, testament to what I've read?

Note: The
Kara 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
Aug 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, british, 2020, scifi
I'll review more later, but I loved it. Felt a bit like John le Carré's heart (obvious since Harkaway is LeCarre's son) mixed with a bit of Neal Stephenson's over-the-top, throw in everything narrative flourish and China Miéville's New Weird characters. All of this with a narrative drive and a quirkiness that is all Nick Harkaway's own. I liked its boldness, funkiness, etc. Doesn't mean it was perfect and there were parts that didn't quite connect. I'd probably give it a 4.5 star if I could divi ...more
Clay Kallam
Dec 04, 2008 rated it did not like it
Shelves: sf-fantasy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
DNF. There's some clever stuff here but buried so deep in a diarrhea of word play and terrible, terrible metaphors that I'm exhausted when they arrive. I envision Harkaway writing this, pounding away at his keyboard, every few minutes declaring I am soooo out there! See how edgy and clever I am! Long on pointless linguistic theatrics, very short on story in the first 50 pages. Friend Donna Blackshall's take mirrors my own: "You know what would be super fun? Let's take this story, and for each se ...more
Jason Pettus
Nov 06, 2009 rated it it was ok
(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
Jun 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sf, favorites
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
The Gone-Away World: Relentlessly ironic, digressive, and clever
Originally posted at Fantasy Literature
The Gone-Away World (2008) is a post-apocalyptic comedy/tragedy about our world before and after the Gone-Away Bombs have wiped up out much of humanity and the world we know. It is about Gonzo Lubitsch and his nameless best friend, who work for a special crew that is assigned to put of a fire along the Jorgmond pipeline, which produced the special material “Fox” that can eliminate the Stuff, th
Henrik Andersson
Jul 25, 2011 rated it did not like it
On the recommendation of Tom Holt's review in SFX, I purchased this. I've read 37 pages so far, and not that I'm comparing it to Tom Holt, but it's an incredibly hard read. Overlong, unnecessarily complex try-too-hard sentences and sudden short digressions ruin the very interesting, intriguing and original story. I'll try to read it all, but it has taken me two or three weeks of bedside reading to get to page 37, so I'll get back to you in a decade or so...

*Update: I give up. I can't read it. I
Sep 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Way back in 2008, Nick Harkaway published his first novel, The Gone-Away World. This coming January his newest novel, Gnomon, will be available in the U.S., although it’ll be available in Great Britain in November and I’m seriously considering ordering it from there, since I don’t think I can wait until January. Until then, though, I’m thinking I might reread all three of his previous novels, all of which I loved. But my favorite remains The Gone-Away World.
There are some books that are relative
Mike Carey
Feb 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Aug 15, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jimbo by: Katherine K
Shelves: sci-fi, fiction, own
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
Jun 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Dec 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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.
Dec 31, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
Hey, I have a booktube channel (youtube for book reviews, etc.), and I include The Gone-Away World in my Top 10 Standalone books list here. Please subscribe if I've earned it!

What got me to read this book was the tag line on the back saying there would be mimes and ninjas. Then I read another book by Harkaway and was blown away by his prose so this book was inevitable even though it was the first I was planning to read.

Having read it, I'm not sure how much I can tell about it other than to say i
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
MrsJoseph *grouchy*
Time on Mt. TBR: 3 years

Hmmmm. I'm not sure what to say about this one. Harkaway appears very impressed with his own turns of phrase....which have the unfortuante side effect of him NEVER getting to the point. NEVER. Harkaway hates getting to the point the way most people hate taxes.

He also lost the hell out of me by dropping me into what felt like 100 pages of flashback. I was reading it and suddenly realized: I don't give a shit about the characters childhoods. Book. Closed.

But a friend who h
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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

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