Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town
He answers to many names (Alan, Archie, Alex, Aaron…). His father is a mountain. His mother is a washing machine. He has six brothers. Three of them live like Russian dolls, nestled inside each other. One of them is a dead man. The dead man is hunting them down, one by one. Alan lives next door to a woman with wings.
Meanwhile, he works to bring free Internet connectivity to Toronto.
I’ve read some of Cory Doctorow’s earlier works, and found them interesting if somewhat horrifying in their depictions of future societies that I would rather die than live in. But they were clearly science fiction.
I have no idea how to classify this one. Besides strange, evocative, and haunting. Those adjectives are used a lot by book reviewers to the point of being cliches. But for this work? They’re a perfect fit. It feels more like fantasy than ‘science fiction’, with another existence that works by different rules intermixed with our everyday life. Science fiction does that sort of thing occasionally, but the rules that differ are those that you’d find in physics. These rules are mystical, or perhaps mythical. Elegant psychological prose slowly reveals the peculiarity that disguises itself as just part of the normal world. Much of Doctorow’s previous writings has consisted of psychological exploration of life in hypothetical spaces, but in this novel the mind takes center stage.
Definitely worth reading. The entire novel is available, online, at Doctorow’s website: here.