Harkaway, Nick. The Gone-Away World
The Livable Zone girdling the planet is maintained by a huge Pipe that pumps out the mysterious compound FOX…but now, the pipe is on fire. The unnamed narrator and his friends, a group of former military special forces soldiers turned contractors, are tapped to put out the fire. Along the way, the narrator muses about how the world got to this point, going back over his entire life growing up with his best friend Gonzo, joining the military, and being on the front-lines when the Go-Away bombs were deployed. The Go-Away bombs were supposed to make whatever they landed upon simply go away—that is, cease to exist in any meaningful way, as opposed to being destroyed as by a conventional bomb. But it turned out that messing with the fabric of existence was the biggest mistake humanity ever made and all that loose Stuff—former matter, now identityless—floating around out there started interacting with human consciousness in some terrifying ways…thus the need for the the Pipe and the magical FOX which neutralizes the Stuff. And thus we come full-circle, as the team of friends works to put out the fire. The only problem is, in the process, some raw Stuff spilled right down the fronts of Gonzo and the narrator and now the narrator’s wife and friends are acting like they don’t know who he is and our narrator starts to wonder just what FOX is, after all, and who really owns the Pipe.
Complex, fast-paced, and ever-so-twisty, The Gone-Away World is impossible to categorize except to say it’s a heck of a lot of fun. Part mystery, part espionage novel, part coming-of-age story, part apocalypse, and 100% engrossing. You won’t know quite what you’re reading, but you won’t be able to stop.