Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town

Cory Doctorow

Tor Books

Alan is a middle-aged entrepeneur in contemporary Toronto, who has devoted himself to fixing up a house in a bohemian neighborhood. This naturally brings him in contact with the house full of students and layabouts next door, including a young woman who, in a moment of stress, reveals to him that she has wings--wings, moreover, which grow back after each attempt to cut them off.

Alan understands. He himself has a secret or two. His father is a mountain; his mother is a washing machine; and among his brothers are a set of Russian nesting dolls.

Now two of the three nesting dolls, Edward and Frederick, are on his doorstep--well on their way to starvation, because their innermost member, George, has vanished. It appears that yet another brother, Davey, who Alan and his other siblings killed years ago, may have returned...bent on revenge.

Under such circumstances it seems only reasonable for Alan to involve himself with a visionary scheme to blanket Toronto with free wireless Internet connectivity, a conspiracy spearheaded by a brilliant technopunk who builds miracles of hardware from parts scavenged from the city’s dumpsters. But Alan’s past won’t leave him alone--and Davey is only one of the powers gunning for him and all his friends.

At the publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied.


Praise for Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town

"Fresh and unconventional . . .Doctorow demonstrates how memorably the outrageous and the everyday can coexist."
--Publishers Weekly (starred review) on Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town

"Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town is a glorious book, but there are hundreds of those. It is more. It is a glorious book unlike any book you've ever read."
--Gene Wolfe

"His best work to date."
--Toronto Globe and Mail on Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town

"Doctorow is one of sci-fi's most exciting young writers, and one of the few with a genuine sense of humor. This is, even by his own bizarre standards, his oddest work yet--an absurd, cartoonish fantasy about a man whose father is a mountain, whose mother is a washing machine, and whose brother is a set of Russian nesting dolls. It all takes place in Toronto, where our hero finds love--and discovers a passion for installing wireless Internet connections."
--Cargo Magazine on Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town

"Dazzles . . .What probably carries the whole project is Doctorow's deft, deep depiction of his characters. I have to say that he's never done a better job of limning real people. However weird they are, they are certainly not cardboard or one-dimensional. They all contain the essential pressure points, drives, caprices and emotions that power the folks we encounter every day. Damaged yet striving to survive and do good, Alan and his cohorts demand that we empathize with their human foibles. This essential believability pulls us in, easing our acceptance of any grotesqueries."
--Paul Di Filippo, SciFi.com, on Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town

"Cory Doctorow's third novel blends ordinary technology, nerdista tech, myth, horror, sheer astonishing silliness, and the Aspergerish quest of the outsider into a demented non-stop juggling act that struck me as the 1950-ish Absurdism of Eugene Ionesco and Boris Vian melted into the heart-touching whimsy of Jonathan Carroll and Jonathan Lethem, then steeped in the crazed fractured realities of the Goon Show."
--Damien Broderick, Locus, on Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town

"After getting off to what was already an impressive start, Cory Doctorow has finally delivered the book, the one that puts him over the top as one of the rare, demonically original, challenging and gifted writers SF sees about as often as two-headed calves are born. These ranks include the likes of Philip K. Dick, Ballard and Delany, artists who manage to write mold-breaking, unconventional stories that uproot nearly every preconception about what storytelling ought to do, and yet avoid being alienating or vapid and self-indulgent."
--Thomas M. Wagner, SFReviews, on Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town

"After finishing Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town, I was surprised to find that botherment and uncertainty had vanished into satisfaction. Somehow this loose-jointed, wandering, ramshackle compendium of casual weirdness (perfectly expressed in the title) produces the kind of intimacy--even authenticity--more often associated with a personal journal, a blog, even autobiography. Yes, the mountain's son will have to confront sheer Evil, but he also struggles with the complexities of friendship, outsiderhood, progressive ideals, and the awkward hinterland between sex and love."
--Faren Miller, Locus

"Now of course rules, where they apply are meant to be broken, and you may do so with impunity, if you know them well enough. Cory Doctorow clearly knows the rules. Cory Doctorow must in fact be a freaking dictionary of the rules, because in Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town he breaks them with such breathtaking skill that the enchanted readers of this fine novel will never be the wiser. Doctorow strings together wonderfully witty words into pithy sentences that have no right making as much sense as they do. He brings a powerful but lighthearted magic to a world we very much hope resembles the real world. Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town evades every expectation you might reasonably attempt to apply to it with one exception: expect to enjoy this novel immensely."
--Rick Kleffel, The Agony Column

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Cory Doctorow

  • Canadian-born Cory Doctorow is the author of the science fiction novels Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, Eastern Standard Tribe, and Makers, as well as two short story collections. He is also the author of young adult novels including the New York Times bestselling Little Brother and For the Win. His novels and short stories have won him three Locus Awards and the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. He is co-editor of the popular blog BoingBoing, and has been named one of the Web’s twenty-five “influencers” by Forbes Magazine and a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum.
  • Cory Doctorow Matt Locke
    Cory Doctorow





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    Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town

    Cory Doctorow



    Tor Books