Books: Overclocked, Eastern Standard Tribe, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom

>> Wednesday, May 9, 2007

I'm becoming a great fan of Cory Doctorow.

For those of you who frequent Boing Boing, as I do, you'll recognize Cory as one of the blog's four regular contributors. Boing Boing is my hands-down can't miss blog read every day, and it was through that site that I learned Cory Doctorow wrote fiction. Then last year, while I was visiting Florida schools, bookstores, and libraries to promote Samurai Shortstop, I picked up a copy of Cory's Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom and read it in various Sunshine State motel rooms. It seemed appropriate, as we were circling the land of Disney.

Long story short, I loved it.

So into the queue went another of Cory's books, Eastern Standard Tribe, which, to begin with, has a terrific title. It was great too.

So on a recent trip to Malaprop's in Asheville, they had Cory's latest book - a collection of short stories called Overclocked, and I nabbed it and read it. It was - you guessed it - fabulous.

Cory Doctorow is a writer of science fiction, and he really makes sure there is science in his fiction. Better put, you could say he is a writer of tech fiction, as his stories have the heavy hand of modern technology taken to near-future possibilities. Cory's stories are filled with 3-D printers (much like Star Trek's replicators) which can print on demand any item its user wishes, subcutaneous phones and PDAs which allow users to connect and share data in ways that seem just within our grasp, and - perhaps my favorite, and the advancement I ache for - the ability for humans to run "back-ups" and "download" their consciousnesses into new bodies as needed. Ah, immortality - I long for thee!

Doctorow also returns to favorite themes in his work, like the conflict between creative freedom and copyright, how the world will change when goods and services are so inexpensive that they're free, and changing attitudes toward community and government as we become more and more a world without physical borders. After reading both Down and Out and Eastern Standard Tribe, I worried that all his protagonists would be over-worked, paranoid, tech-zealots, but his short story collection reveals a much broader cast of characters and sensibilities - highlighted in the extreme by a sentient row boat in the Asimov-inspired tale I, Row-boat. (Seriously. And it's one of the best stories in the collection.)

Cory's got at least two more books out there that I know of that I haven't read. Yet. I will have all his books. Oh yes. I will have them. I'm so impressed by his plotting, his dialogue, his inventiveness, and of course his imagination. I'd love to be able to write with Doctorow's simultaneously breezy, funny, and erudite style, and it's one of my great regrets that I was unable to apply for this year's Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers' Workshop where Cory will be teaching for a week. Attending Clarion is on my wish list of Things to Do to Become a Better Writer, but this wasn't the year I could do it.

I did read that Cory Doctorow is developing a young adult series (for Tor?) and I anxiously await those books as well. If you like really inventive, fun, and intelligent science fiction, give him a read - you won't be disappointed.


Fabricationist May 9, 2007 at 1:44 PM  

I know you want to own a copy of all of his books so that you can nestle them snuggly against one another in your bookshelves, but "Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town" can be found here:

It's free to download under CC. Much corey info on this site as well.

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