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3.86  ·  Rating details ·  4,914 ratings  ·  913 reviews
From the widely acclaimed author of The Gone-Away World and Tigerman, comes a virtuosic new novel set in a near-future, high-tech surveillance state, that is equal parts dark comedy, gripping detective story, and mind-bending philosophical puzzle.

In the world of Gnomon, citizens are constantly observed and democracy has reached a pinnacle of ‘transparency.’ Every action is
Hardcover, 688 pages
Published October 19th 2017 by William Heinemann
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Tomislav Notice that there are no digits of "8" or "9". It could be an octal representation of the beginning of a long binary string.

Maybe DCAC is decentralize…more
Notice that there are no digits of "8" or "9". It could be an octal representation of the beginning of a long binary string.

Maybe DCAC is decentralized access control code.

Maybe it is part of the encrypted source for Witness, or some representation of the text of the novel itself.(less)
AX Kuhn Ben Onwukwe's performance is one of the best I've ever heard, and I mean one of the best *in any medium*. It has the quality of a great one-man show. …moreBen Onwukwe's performance is one of the best I've ever heard, and I mean one of the best *in any medium*. It has the quality of a great one-man show. Seriously. I didn't think this book would be well-rendered as an audio performance but Onwukwe is transcendent.(less)

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Average rating 3.86  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,914 ratings  ·  913 reviews

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Oct 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a strange multi-layered beast of a book set in a future Britain under total surveillance, governed by the System, where the majority of people remarkably believe this is a good thing. It is a dense and demanding sci-fi and fantasy read requiring attention and patience from the reader. It would be remiss of me not to mention that at 700+ pages, you need to prepared for the long haul. This is a sprawling tale which goes in a myriad of directions and left me bewildered as to where it was he ...more
Liz Barnsley
Aug 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Gnomon is actually a novel that defies description for all the right reasons, it is an epic, an ultimately rewarding read with so many layers inside the layers under the levels that hide the realities that your head will spin and you’ll come out of it feeling dazed and probably weirdly wired. Or maybe that is just me. We’ll see I guess…

The use of language is purely beautiful, a smorgasbord of differing voices all linked to the main bulk of the narrative through the eyes of the Inspector. Probabl
Apr 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is one of those books that makes you feel that for years you've been killing time with other books, treading water offshore, waiting for a shark to find you. It stretches the sense of what books can do. It gets better the more you think about it, the more you give to it. It's not just a pageturner, though it's that... Not just a literary novel or a science fiction novel, though it's both... I think it really does find more space for the art.

Where's the goddamn sixth star?
Kevin Kelsey
Describing Gnomon is a challenge, because it’s simultaneously many different things: A cautionary tale about our modern moment’s convergence of technology, surveillance, and human hubris. A matryoshkian novel, as narratively complex as it is straightforward and readable, that is itself ultimately all about storytelling, narrative, and books. A satisfyingly self-aware postmodern book that wants access to your mind as a tool to self-propagate. A beautifully designed physical book (Chip Kidd doesn’ ...more
Oct 06, 2017 rated it it was ok
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I really struggled with this, unfortunately and couldn't finish it. The premise seemed really interesting - I love dystopian fiction, but I found the story overly long and convoluted. It was very slow paced, with large sections devoted to descriptions, and unloading a lot of information in one go, making it difficult to hold my attention. I also struggled to get emotionally invested in anything that happened.

Unfortunately not for
Bookteafull (Danny)
May 22, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: shit-list, dnf

DNF'ed at 32%. I tried. I really, really did.

Another week, Another DNF.

Scifi is one of my favorite genres but lately, it feels like every time I pick up a sci-fi novel to read - I'm extremely bored, confused, and disappointed. I received this book in a PageHabit box that a friend bought for me. Her heart was in the right place but this book belongs in the trash.

I did not care for the synopsis. Wow, another dystopian society where the government sees and records your every move. So shook, I've
Dec 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First off, I received this as an ARC from Penguin Random House. Thank You.

This book fits squarely in the category "what in the heck did I just read". It kind of has a "House of Leaves" feel to it. It's like a Russian nesting doll and The Lament Configuration all in one big puzzle.

It does start off slow, but give it time. Once you start to work to puzzle out you will see why.

This story also screams undertones of Phillip K. Dick. So if you love Dick's work, this is a treat.
May 22, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: sf
When I reviewed Harkaway's novel Angelmaker five years ago, I expressed a worry that Harkaway was boxing himself in. That he had settled on exactly one application for his formidable talents -- a boisterous but ultimately fluffy type of sci-fi adventure story -- and that he was never going to do something rawer, more messily human, something with goals beyond the efficient optimization of entertainment density per page.

My fears were misplaced. Gnomon is, in many ways, the exact book I was hoping
Oct 10, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: dystopia
This was far too dense for me. I can see that this is literary fantasy/ dystopia, but I really couldn’t get on with it. I like books, generally speaking,that make the reader “work for it” but I was doing all the work and not getting much pleasure!
Many thanks to Netgalley for an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Aug 14, 2018 rated it liked it
As I said previously, English is not my first language, but I dare to comment this complex novel. I must say that the book deserves a more extensive review.

Gnomon has a fascinating beginning, set in a future high surveilled UK, with the marvelous/nightmarish assistance of an artificial inteligence -the Witness- and the plot starts with a murder apparently impossible. So, the novel looks like good science fiction but then, as the different plots develops... well, It does not matter the genre: Gn
Feb 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A totally dense and complicated story, or actually, several stories, all layered and interleaving each other. What starts as a murder investigation by System's Inspector Mielikke Neith into a seriously failed interrogation of a woman, turns into a slow deciphering of a very complicated set of plans crafted by a brilliant mind. Along the way, the author poses many questions about identity, reality, surveillance, privacy, responsibility, the power of the state, storytelling, and probably a dozen o ...more
S.J. Higbee
Nov 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I normally read quite quickly – I’ve read 157 books so far this year. But this one took me nearly two weeks to complete. Partly it’s the fact that it is something of a doorstopper at over 700 pages, but the main reason was that early on I took the decision that I wouldn’t speed-read through this one. The prose is too rich, too dense – there are too many allusions and clues scattered throughout and as you may have gathered from the blurb, the structure isn’t all that straightforward, either.

It mi
May 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Soo.... Nick Harkaway. He's a funny guy, yeah?

A funny guy with an enormous vocabulary.

Who likes to mess with his readers.

It's cool Nick. I didn't want to understand your book anyway, and just so you know we're cool, I gave it 4 stars, because you're a funny guy.

Seriously- trying to put this book into words is tremendously difficult. The running theme is: fugue, catabasis, apocatastasis, connectome, gnomon, the list goes on but these were the ones I had to Google enough times to remember. And jus
Aug 20, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The first novel that I have read by Nick Harkaway. From the initial blurb that I read on Netgalley and Goodreads, the book sounded great. However, for me this was a very slow read and when I first started reading the book it felt like the author had swallowed a dictionary. To be very honest and I know this sounds brutal, but I found it boring. This is only my opinion and I am sure many other readers will disagree with me. I'm very disappointed.

Many thanks to Netgalley for the copy in return for
Apr 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, dystopian
The bookshop is closed, but [the proprietor] goes down to the back office, puts on the kettle and opens the door. People will be very alarmed, and in his experience they always feel better knowing there's a bookshop open.

I did something extremely rare with this book – I re-read 150 pages to better understand what was actually happening. It worked, but... there's an incredible amount of complexity here, and I'm not sure it's all necessary.

First, big kudos for Harkaway attempting and (mostly) pull
Dec 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Swimmers against the flow, upright nails, and other orthogonal types
Recommended to Alan by: Quirkyreader, via Peter Tillman, and by every previous work to date
They say "dysfunctional," but all I hear is "uppity."
—Diana Hunter, p.406

That one line sums up the late Diana Hunter pretty well, I think—even though it comes pretty late in Nick Harkaway's Gnomon, after a lot has already happened.

Hunter's dead, to begin with, and Inspector Meilikki Neith of the Witness needs to find out why. Hunter had already died before Gnomon begins, in fact. She died under Witness interrogation, too, and that's not supposed to happen anymore—in this near-future Britain, abs
Jan 13, 2018 rated it liked it
This took me so long to finish. One of the mist dense, confusing, intelligent and beautifully written novels Ive come across. Dont go in wanting a quick easy read. This 700 page behemoth will take awhile for thr average reader. Thisi is also more Lit than scifi. There were times I had to re read passages and even look up words haha. The blurb gives you a cergain background to the story but it doesnt really give you much. Even trying to describe what I read is impossible. My best friend also read ...more
Peter Tillman
Made Adam Robert's best-of 2017 list,

"And then there is Gnomon (William Heinemann), Nick Harkaway’s most ambitious novel yet. This story of near-future mass surveillance, artificial intelligence and human identity reads as if 11 novels have been crowded into a matter-transporter pod, emerging on the other side weirdly melded. An enormous, shaggy, infuriating, amazing and quite unforgettable piece of fiction, it’s the kind of thing only science fiction can
Dec 06, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: netgalley, gave-up-on
You need to be match fit for a Nick Harkaway, you need to prepare for massive vocabulary, difficult concepts, layer upon layer of story and get yourself ready to be taken on a trip where you don't have a map and you just have to surrender yourself to the captain of the journey and trust you will get there in the end. Usually this works really well for me, but sadly not this time. I just couldn't get into it. I did love the complicated words, I liked the main character, but I got horribly confuse ...more
Phil Costa
Mar 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Ambitious and creative novel set in a dystopian future and told through multiple intertwined voices - some actual, some fictional, some where it's not so clear. I wouldn't suggest I understood all of the twists and turns, or unpacked all of the dense cross-references, but the writing is excellent and the multiple turns of the screw are thoroughly enjoyable if you're willing to stick with the complex narrative. Definitely one of those books where you fell you'd get a lot more out of it the second ...more
Nov 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dystopian Science Fiction with a Confounding Edge

Gnomon is both high- and low-concept science fiction at their absolute best. At 700 pages, with a long, long cast of strong – and strange – characters, and a winding, snake-like plot that doubles back upon itself and sniffs along the way the rarefied air of philosophy, religion, and some funky not-too-distant future science, Gnomon is an oft-confusing, confounding work of near – and maybe total – genius.

It opens as technology-based dystopian ficti
Bryan Alexander
Mar 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, sf, lit
composition is collision, synthetic as much as original. Authors are accretors. (292)

Gnomon is Nick Harkaway's richest and most ambitious novel so far.

I've read all of Harkaway's novels (plus one that might be his, under a pseudonym) and count myself a fan. I love his odd worldbuilding, weird plots, and the combination of manic humor with stark tragedy, where pulp and geekery are taken seriously.

Gnomon does all of this, but ramped up. Here Harkaway seems to be wandering deeply into Borgesian ter
Dec 25, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5 rounded down

I could have easily rounded up, and considering the investment I took when reading (listening) to this book (29 hour audiobook people!) maybe I should have given it a bit more benefit of the doubt. But that said, I also expect books that make readers put in such enormous efforts to be a bit more satisfying.

Gnomon is part scifi dystopic fiction, part detective thriller, with dashes of Inception and the Matrix, exploring the world of unconsciousness and dreams. Taking place in the
I received this book from Net galley, in exchange for an honest review.

In the reality of this near-future, Britain is a constantly surveilled direct democracy called The System, assisted by a ubiquitous AI The Witness which is constantly on hand to provide advice and information. And nobody seems to mind except a few subversives like Diana Hunter.

Ms Hunter has been called in for interrogation, a neural procedure that searches through the unconscious mind of the subject causing no harm and even
Jan 03, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobook, reviewed

3 Stars for Narration by Ben Onwukwe (Good Narrator but bad fit for this book.)
4 Stars for Concepts
2 Stars for Plot Execution, Abrupt POV Shifts, Hazy Setting
1 Star for Preachy Narrative
3.5 Stars for Characters (Some were better than others.)

** Recommend Reading Print vs Listening to Audio

Narration: Onwukwe is a good narrator but he was not a good fit for the story because there are multiple POVs. He's the kind of storyteller that has a narrative voice and adds emotional inflections
Feb 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars

This book is dense and not an easy and quick read at all. Also, I probably lengthened the time spent with this book by about 10% just because I kept having to look up words I did not know. I went back and forth while reading between "I'm loving this narrative and these characters!" to "ugh, I have no idea what is happening and I wish the narrator would condense what he was trying to say". I persevered, though, and was richly rewarded at the end. All the threads came together to create a
Caroline Mersey
Nov 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: review-copies
Every novel by Nick Harkaway is different, and Gnomon (review copy from William Heinemann) is probably his most ambitious book yet. This is a complex, multi-layered book that braids together a series of narratives to tell a story about society and our trust in its underlying structures. Mielikki Neith is the key to piecing all this together.

Neith is the foremost Investigator for The System, the all-seeing and all-knowing system that governs society. Part panopticon, part the ultimate in partici
Feb 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Nick Harkaway is a literary genius, and we wander through his remarkably twisted (in both senses) mind as he takes us down a labyrinthine rabbit hole to rival any and all rabbit holes. Gnomon is one of the most ambitious and imaginative books I have ever read. It is its own unique self while hearkening to (and perhaps paying homage to) Jorge Luis Borges's short stories, Mark Z. Danielewski's House of Leaves, Steven Hall's The Raw Shark Texts, and Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow.

I could no mor
Kara Babcock
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, scifi, dystopia
I adored The Gone-Away World, Nick Harkaway’s first novel. Angelmaker was by comparison a bit of a let-down, then Tigerman didn’t have a weird enough concept to appeal so I haven't read it. ‘Gnomon’, however, is a definite return to form and I found it very satisfying. (view spoiler) My reading experience ...more
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Gnomon_nomonG: Where's Mielikki? 10 124 Apr 27, 2021 02:13PM  
Gnomon_nomonG: Gnomon's final word 1 59 Mar 28, 2018 05:21PM  
Gnomon_nomonG: Jorge Luis Borges - "Death and the Compass" 5 66 Mar 28, 2018 05:05PM  
Gnomon_nomonG: The Gnomon numbers... 4 103 Mar 28, 2018 12:45PM  
Gnomon_nomonG: Gnomon - macro thoughts/impressions/questions 1 63 Feb 20, 2018 07:29AM  

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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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