->The last-ditch plan is to [[TrojanPrisoner pretend that we're escorting a prisoner]], then cause mayhem. Elisabeth Soames pointed out that this didn't work well in ''StarWars'' and can reasonably be expected to fail in the real world, which is somewhat more demanding in the field of cunning plans, and Samuel P. tried very hard to pretend he hadn't been thinking of ''StarWars'' when he proposed it. The trouble is that although it's a lousy last-ditch plan, it is also our only last-ditch plan.\\
The rest of the plan is quite good, and if it works the way it is supposed to, we will do very well, and we won't need the lousy part. On the other hand, it almost certainly won't work like that, because plans don't. It will twist, creep, change, swivel, and mutate, until finally we're flying on sheer bravado and chutzpah, and hoping the other guy thinks it's all accounted for. You don't make strategy so that there's one path to victory; you make it so that as many paths as possible lead to something which isn't loss.

''The Gone-Away World'' is a 2008 novel by Nick Harkaway (the son of Creator/JohnLeCarre).

World War III has come and gone, with a bomb that "makes the enemy go away". As it turns out, however, it leaves behind something in its place, a mysterious substance known as Stuff that becomes whatever you're thinking of -- which most of the time is [[PrimalFear whatever you're most afraid it's going to become]]. Only the [[MegaCorp Jorgmund Corporation]] knows how to make FOX, the substance that can convert the Stuff into mere dust, and as the story begins the protagonist is putting out a fire on the pipeline that channels FOX into the atmosphere. [[MindScrew Things get weird]].

!!Tropes featured include:
* TheAce: Gonzo, the protagonist's best friend.
* TheAllConcealingI: The first-person narration is used to conceal the fact that the narrator [[spoiler:spends half the book as a figment of Gonzo's imagination and has no name.]]
* ArtisticLicenseMartialArts: The martial arts described in the book are heavily influenced by kung fu films.
* AwesomenessByAnalysis: Professor Derek claims to use this to behave as a normal human being.
* AwesomeMcCoolname: Ike Thermite, though possibly a stage name.
* BaaBomb: Sheep and minefields interact in interesting ways.
* BadassCrew: The Haulage & [=HazMat=] Emergency Civil Freebooting Company is made up of highly trained commandos
* BeingEvilSucks: The narrator asserts that the worst kind of "pencilneck" has completely sacrificed his humanity to become a part of his organization. In the end, he discovers that, indeed, [[spoiler:Pestle spends his free time staring into space, having no other purpose than to serve the Clockwork Hand]].
* BodyHorror: The Stuff warps often people's bodies in unnatural ways.
* ChekhovsGunman: [[spoiler:Elisabeth doesn't contribute much to the plot and is conspicuously absent for most of the middle section, until she pops back up as the real identity of Dr. Andromas]].
* CircusOfFear: Subverted. They're among the good guys.
* ClapYourHandsIfYouBelieve: Sort of. If you're thinking of something, that's what the Stuff is. If you're thinking of two things, the Stuff's a hybrid of them. If you're frantically hoping the Stuff doesn't become something, well...
* CocaPepsiInc: The United Island Kingdoms of Great Britain, Northern Ireland, and Cuba Libre.
* CrouchingMoronHiddenBadass: Ike Thermite and his mime company are actually [[spoiler:martial artists of the Voiceless Dragon]].
* DisguisedInDrag: [[spoiler: Dr. Andromas is actually Elisabeth. The fact that he's a her is foreshadowed a few times. Andromas is frequently said to have his face obscured by something, including a mustache, hat, and his collar. The narrator is surprised by the thickness of his hair beneath his hat. When pressed against him, the narrator says he has a lumpy body, with slender arms and narrow shoulders. While at a mall, he also pauses to inspect some feminine jewelry in a window]].
* EccentricMentor: Master Wu.
* EnemyWithout: A rare case in which [[spoiler:the main character ''is'' the Enemy Without.]]
* FirstGirlWins: [[spoiler:Elisabeth turns out to be the narrator's true love. She wasn't the first girl he had a romance with, but she was the first girl he knew to any degree]].
* GenreBusting: Starts as AfterTheEnd, flashes back to a ComingOfAge story, goes into a [[MartialArtsMovie martial arts story]], and then starts adding political satire, science fiction and horror to the mix, all with a thick veneer of comedy over the top.
* GratuitousNinja: The story is set in the present day, but the primary physical conflict is between the heroes and ninjas. However, the narrator explains early on that they're not ''actual'' ninjas, but the word fits best.
* HeroicMime: [[spoiler: Literally. An entire troupe of them.]]
* HollywoodHealing:
** After the narrator breaks his hand, he mentions that it hurts for a few pages, then never brings it back up again over the course of the following days.
** [[spoiler:The narrator makes a surprisingly easy and speedy recovery from being shot at point-blank range six times and shoved out of a moving car. It's justified by the fact that he still wasn't completely real yet]].
* IceCreamKoan: Referred to InUniverse as ''bullshido''.
* InMediasRes: The first chapter takes place at about the midway point. The next half of the book leads up to that critical moment.
* LightningBruiser: Various masters of "hard style" martial arts, including Gonzo and Ronnie. [[spoiler:Humbert Pestle]] especially is repeatedly described as being impossibly big and impossibly fast.
* MagicRealism: It looks like science fiction for the first few chapters. Then the [[AssPull Ass Pulls]] start.
* MegaCorp: The Jorgmund Corporation.
* {{Ninja}}: The bad guys.
* NinjaPirateZombieRobot: More precisely, kung fu [[spoiler:mime]]s fighting [[spoiler:corporate]] ninjas, AfterTheEnd.
* {{No Name Given}}: One of the early hints to the narrator's identity is that his name is never mentioned. In fact, he doesn't have one. He first acknowledges it about three-quarters of the way into the novel in a completely off-handed manner, mentioning that a certain dish, like him, had no name.
* PlanetOfSteves:
-->"I'm K. She's also K. We both--many of us here, actually--have the same name. Not that we're all the same person, you understand. We just use one signifier to encourage random reassessment of the nature of our relationships. We don't like to make assumptions, yeah?"
* PoweredByAForsakenChild: [[spoiler:People with a rare form of brain damage see everything around them as neutral, and thus whenever Stuff comes into contact with them it itself becomes neutral -- and acquires the ability to neutralize more Stuff. Thus FOX is made. However, this form of brain damage kills fairly quickly, and it's much too rare for replacements to simply be found around -- so normal people are abducted and intentionally brain-damaged]].
* PrecisionFStrike: "[[spoiler:Ghost Palm of the Voiceless Dragon, fucker!]]"
* ProverbialWisdom: Parodied by Master Wu on one occasion:
-->'''Wu:''' ''In unifying your chi with that of your opponent -- in aligning the breath of your life and theirs -- you will storm the strongest fortress''. There! Is that a good Secret?\\
'''Elizabeth:''' What does it mean?\\
'''Wu:''' No idea. It's a Secret. Means what you need it to mean. But now we have one, we can refuse to tell anyone about it!
* RagnarokProofing: Played with and ultimately subverted. It's stated that the Pipeline -- being responsible for humanity's very survival -- is the most secure, triple-redundant, built-to-last thing ever constructed, tested, built up and tested again, and that there's no way it could possibly be on fire. It is, of course, enthusiastically burning away.
* RedOniBlueOni: The defining features of Gonzo and the narrator, literally.
* RuleOfCool: All of the martial arts and ninja subplots run on this.
* SacrificedBasicSkillForAwesomeTraining: This is part of what distinguishes the ninjas from the good guys. [[spoiler:Humbert Pestle is impossibly strong, fast, and tough. He also has about half a hand left.]]
* ShownTheirWork: The author has a philosophy degree and some expertise in martial arts. It shows.
* SilentBob: Most of the mime troupe (with the exception of Ike Thermite, who speaks for all of them).
* ThanatosGambit: [[spoiler:The narrator speculates that Master Wu deliberately allowed himself to be killed so that the ninjas would not discover his pupils' identities. The narrator also believes that his death was part of his plan to defeat the Clockwork Hand via his pupils]].
* ThereAreNoGoodExecutives: A recurring theme, explained by Darwinian means: to properly do the job of a corporate executive means giving up some degree of humanity. [[spoiler:Befitting the theme, the head ninja and the CEO of the Jorgmund Corporation are the same person.]]
* TransformationTrauma: Coating yourself in Stuff can induce InvoluntaryTransformation, and most people don't know enough about anatomy to visualize a survivable form.
* TomatoInTheMirror
* WeakButSkilled: The soft style of the Voiceless Dragon uses indirect means to defeat your enemies rather than power.
* WorldOfChaos: Everything outside the areas maintained by the MegaCorp.
* WorldGoneMad: Albeit slowly recovering.
* YeOldeButcheredeEnglishe: The oath taken at Jarndice University.
* YouKillItYouBoughtIt: The rule of the Clockwork Hand.