The Gone-away WorldSeptember 4, 2013
There is one science that eludes most science fiction writer. (Yes, some would say that it is not a part of science, therefore, it does not deserve a study to PhD level.) That science is management. There are many who would argue that it is not possible to make a sci-fi out of management studies. One man proves this wrong. He is Nick Harkaway, the author of this novel.
Somehow, something got into his way to make this novel a terrific one. It has a very good start, but later it deviates from its own goal, and becomes a jumble of sci-fi, war story, and (believe it or not) a kung-fu legend. Each of them might be a good story, but when you combine them into one grand story, it becomes a bad cooking.
The story is about the “The Gone-away World”, which is the world post Gone-away War, which is caused by the invention of Gone-away bomb, told from the point of view of a soldier, together with a group of veteran soldier of the Gone-away War.
The sci-fi idea is quite genuine. It gives me a reminiscence of the nuclear scare at its development stage, that the nuclear fission chain reaction will continue indefinitely because it will cause the chain reaction with air molecules, therefore unstoppable, and therefore THE END OF THE WORLD! Of course, it did not happened. But the scare was real at that time.
And I am willing to give him a credit to his take on management science. I have never seen that before in any other book. Top-notch! Too bad, he let it slipped away by telling other jumbled stories which do not add to the main story.
The novel will be much better, if it is better edited, and cut into just 1/3. There are just too many digressions, which are neither interesting nor add any good to the main story. It is just destroying the main story, like hearing the inconsistent rumble of a drunkard. I have to delve half way into the novel in order just to find out what the hell is the story is all about. But after that, the story deviates again. Bad. Really bad, to a point of frustration. I really have to push myself to finish this book (While reading two other books at the same time, which I manage to finish before this book.)
Nick Harkaway definitely can write (compares to other authors who cannot even write). But he definitely needs someone to tell him if he is going to far. It turns out that instead of writing the Gone-away World, he is writing the Nickhark-away World. I am still expecting that he can produce a better novel next time, given he learns from his mistake.
But for this one, I cannot give him more than TWO STARS.