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Cory Doctorow

Fiction and Excerpts [15]
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Fiction and Excerpts [15]

Shared Destinies: Why Wealth Inequality Matters

In Cory Doctorow’s new novel Walkaway many in the youngest generation―now that anyone can design and print the basic necessities of life like food, clothing, and shelter―choose to do just that, walk away. But is it unkind to exit a society defined by daily toil that benefits the rich without helping others who don’t have that option?

Below, Doctorow explains the strains of history leading up to this question.

So much many of us are poor today than just a few decades ago; after the world wars’ orgies of capital destruction, wealth reached unprecedented levels of even distribution. After all, the poor had little to lose in the war, and the rich hedged their war-losses by loaning governments money to fight on, and so many of those debts were never paid. The next thirty years—the French call them “Les Trentes Glorieuses”—saw the creation of the GI Bill, the British and French welfare states, and the rise of an anti-capitalist, anti-war counterculture that reached its apex in the summer of ’68, when the world was on fire.

But since the malaise of the 1970s and the reboot of fiscal conservativism with Reagan, Thatcher and Mulroney, the gap between the rich and the poor has widened all over the world. The rich got a *lot* richer, and though the world’s economy grew, and though millions in China were lifted out of poverty, many millions in the “rich” world sank back down to pre-war levels of inequality—levels of inequality to rival France in 1789, when the Reign of Terror brought the guillotine and the massacres.

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Walkaway: “Takeoff”

Hubert Vernon Rudolph Clayton Irving Wilson Alva Anton Jeff Harley Timothy Curtis Cleveland Cecil Ollie Edmund Eli Wiley Marvin Ellis Espinoza—known to his friends as Hubert, Etc—was too old to be at that Communist party.

But after watching the breakdown of modern society, he really has no where left to be—except amongst the dregs of disaffected youth who party all night and heap scorn on the sheep they see on the morning commute. After falling in with Natalie, an ultra-rich heiress trying to escape the clutches of her repressive father, the two decide to give up fully on formal society—and walk away.

After all, now that anyone can design and print the basic necessities of life—food, clothing, shelter—from a computer, there seems to be little reason to toil within the system.

It’s still a dangerous world out there, the empty lands wrecked by climate change, dead cities hollowed out by industrial flight, shadows hiding predators animal and human alike. Still, when the initial pioneer walkaways flourish, more people join them. Then the walkaways discover the one thing the ultra-rich have never been able to buy: how to beat death. Now it’s war – a war that will turn the world upside down.

Fascinating, moving, and darkly humorous, Cory Doctorow’s Walkaway is a multi-generation SF thriller about the wrenching changes of the next hundred years, and the very human people who will live their consequences—available April 25th from Tor Books! Read a selection from the third chapter below, or head back to the beginning with chapter one.

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When Computers Refuse to Obey: The Terrifying Future of Technology

In the Foundation series, Isaac Asimov posited three rules to protect humans from robots. As our own technology advances exponentially every day, how can will we make technology that frees us, rather than enslaving us?

Let us begin by cleaving this problem into two pieces, only one of which I am qualified to address:

  1. How can we make technology that works well?
  2. How can we make technology that fails well?

I only know about #2.

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Walkaway: “You All Meet in a Tavern”

Hubert, Etc was too old to be at that Communist party.

After watching the breakdown of modern society, Hubert Vernon Rudolph Clayton Irving Wilson Alva Anton Jeff Harley Timothy Curtis Cleveland Cecil Ollie Edmund Eli Wiley Marvin Ellis Espinoza—known to his friends as Hubert, Etc—really has no where left to be, except amongst the dregs of disaffected youth who party all night and heap scorn on the sheep they see on the morning commute. After falling in with Natalie, an ultra-rich heiress trying to escape the clutches of her repressive father, the two decide to give up fully on formal society—and walk away.

After all, now that anyone can design and print the basic necessities of life—food, clothing, shelter—from a computer, there seems to be little reason to toil within the system.

It’s still a dangerous world out there, the empty lands wrecked by climate change, dead cities hollowed out by industrial flight, shadows hiding predators animal and human alike. Still, when the initial pioneer walkaways flourish, more people join them. Then the walkaways discover the one thing the ultra-rich have never been able to buy: how to beat death. Now it’s war—a war that will turn the world upside down.

Fascinating, moving, and darkly humorous, Cory Doctorow’s Walkaway is a multi-generation SF thriller about the wrenching changes of the next hundred years, and the very human people who will live their consequences—available April 25th from Tor Books! Read a selection from the second chapter below, or head back to the beginning with chapter one.

[Read more]

Walkaway: “Communist Party”

Hubert, Etc was too old to be at that Communist party.

After watching the breakdown of modern society, Hubert Vernon Rudolph Clayton Irving Wilson Alva Anton Jeff Harley Timothy Curtis Cleveland Cecil Ollie Edmund Eli Wiley Marvin Ellis Espinoza—known to his friends as Hubert, Etc—really has no where left to be, except amongst the dregs of disaffected youth who party all night and heap scorn on the sheep they see on the morning commute. After falling in with Natalie, an ultra-rich heiress trying to escape the clutches of her repressive father, the two decide to give up fully on formal society—and walk away.

After all, now that anyone can design and print the basic necessities of life—food, clothing, shelter—from a computer, there seems to be little reason to toil within the system.

It’s still a dangerous world out there, the empty lands wrecked by climate change, dead cities hollowed out by industrial flight, shadows hiding predators animal and human alike. Still, when the initial pioneer walkaways flourish, more people join them. Then the walkaways discover the one thing the ultra-rich have never been able to buy: how to beat death. Now it’s war—a war that will turn the world upside down.

Fascinating, moving, and darkly humorous, Cory Dotcorow’s Walkaway is a multi-generation SF thriller about the wrenching changes of the next hundred years, and the very human people who will live their consequences—available April 25th from Tor Books! Read a selection from the first chapter below, and check back for additional excerpts before the book’s release.

[Read more]

Con/Game

We’re pleased to present Con/Game, an original comic from acclaimed author Cory Doctorow and rising star cartoonist Jen Wang, set in the world of their graphic novel In Real Life. First published on Tor.com on September 30, 2014, Con/Game will be also be available on Free Comic Book Day as part of the Comics Festival collection. Look for it this Saturday, May 2nd, at your local comic shop!

Anda loves Coarsegold Online, the massively-multiplayer role playing game that she spends most of her free time on. It’s a place where she can be a leader, a fighter, a hero. It’s a place where she can meet people from all over the world, and make friends. Gaming is, for Anda, entirely a good thing.

But things become a lot more complicated when Anda befriends a gold farmer—and Anda soon comes to realize that questions of right and wrong are a lot less straightforward when a real person’s real livelihood is at stake.

[Read Con/Game]

Con/Game

Anda loves Coarsegold Online, the massively-multiplayer role playing game that she spends most of her free time on. It’s a place where she can be a leader, a fighter, a hero. It’s a place where she can meet people from all over the world, and make friends. Gaming is, for Anda, entirely a good thing. 

But things become a lot more complicated when Anda befriends a gold farmer—and Anda soon comes to realize that questions of right and wrong are a lot less straightforward when a real person’s real livelihood is at stake. 

From acclaimed teen author Cory Doctorow and rising star cartoonist Jen Wang, Con/Game is an original comic story set in the world of Doctorow and Wang’s In Real Life, a sensitive, thoughtful look at adolescence, gaming, poverty, and culture-clash.

[Read Con/Game]

In Real Life (Comic Excerpt)

Anda loves Coarsegold Online, the massively-multiplayer role playing game that she spends most of her free time on. It’s a place where she can be a leader, a fighter, a hero. It’s a place where she can meet people from all over the world, and make friends. Gaming is, for Anda, entirely a good thing. 

But things become a lot more complicated when Anda befriends a gold farmer—a poor Chinese kid whose avatar in the game illegally collects valuable objects and then sells them to players from developed countries with money to burn. This behavior is strictly against the rules in Coarsegold, but Anda soon comes to realize that questions of right and wrong are a lot less straightforward when a real person’s real livelihood is at stake. 

Gideon Smith amazon buy linkFrom acclaimed teen author Cory Doctorow and rising star cartoonist Jen Wang, In Real Life is a sensitive, thoughtful look at adolescence, gaming, poverty, and culture-clash.

[Read In Real Life]

You Are Not a Digital Native: Privacy in the Age of the Internet

They say that the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II ordered a group of children to be raised without any human interaction so that he could observe their “natural” behavior, untainted by human culture, and find out the true, deep nature of the human animal.

If you were born around the turn of the 21st century, you’ve probably had to endure someone calling you a “digital native” at least once. At first, this kind of sounds like a good thing to be—raised without the taint of the offline world, and so imbued with a kind of mystic sixth sense about how the Internet should be.

But children aren’t mystic innocents. They’re young people, learning how to be adult people, and they learn how to be adults the way all humans learn: by making mistakes. All humans screw up, but kids have an excuse: they haven’t yet learned the lessons the screw-ups can impart. If you want to double your success rate, you have to triple your failure rate.

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Lawful Interception

An all-new tale of Marcus Yallow, the hero of the bestselling novels Little Brother and Homeland—as he deals with the aftermath of a devastating Oakland earthquake, with the help of friends, hacker allies, and some very clever crowdsourced drones.

This original novella was acquired and edited for Tor.com by senior editor Patrick Nielsen Hayden.

[Read “Lawful Interception” by Cory Doctorow]

Pirate Cinema (Excerpt)

The Little Brother sequel, Homeland, isn’t the only Cory Doctorow book coming out this year. Read an excerpt from Doctorow’s latest tale of technological defiance, Pirate Cinema, out on October 2:

Trent McCauley is sixteen, brilliant, and obsessed with one thing: making movies on his computer by reassembling footage from popular films he downloads from the net. In the dystopian near-future Britain where Trent is growing up, this is more illegal than ever; the punishment for being caught three times is that your entire household’s access to the internet is cut off for a year, with no appeal.

Trent’s too clever for that too happen. Except it does, and it nearly destroys his family. Shamed and shattered, Trent runs away to London, where he slowly he learns the ways of staying alive on the streets. This brings him in touch with a demimonde of artists and activists who are trying to fight a new bill that will criminalize even more harmless internet creativity, making felons of millions of British citizens at a stroke. 

Things look bad. Parliament is in power of a few wealthy media conglomerates. But the powers-that-be haven’t entirely reckoned with the power of a gripping movie to change people’s minds….

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Homeland (Excerpt)

Next up in our look at Cory Doctorow’s upcoming novels, we’ve got what many of you have been waiting for…. Take a look at the first chapters to Homeland, sequel to Little Brother, out next February!

Marcus and Ange are enjoying the annual festival Burning Man, deep in the Nevada desert. But in the midst of all the walking art, camps full of sunscreen and body paint, and a fantastic D&D game with some living legends, Marcus gets a visit from Masha and Zeb.

Masha has some information that she wants Marcus to get out. But by Burning Man’s end, it becomes clear that what he’s carrying may turn out to be far more than he bargained for….

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Rapture of the Nerds (Excerpt)

We’re going to take a look at Cory Doctorow’s upcoming novels this week! Let’s start with a joint work between him and Charles Stross, out on September 4 –Rapture of the Nerds:

Welcome to the fractured future, at the dusk of the twenty-first century.

Earth has a population of roughly a billion hominids. For the most part, they are happy with their lot, living in a preserve at the bottom of a gravity well. Those who are unhappy have emigrated, joining one or another of the swarming densethinker clades that fog the inner solar system with a dust of molecular machinery so thick that it obscures the sun. 

The splintery metaconsciousness of the solar-system has largely sworn off its pre-post-human cousins dirtside, but its minds sometimes wander…and when that happens, it casually spams Earth’s networks with plans for cataclysmically disruptive technologies that emulsify whole industries, cultures, and spiritual systems. A sane species would ignore these get-evolved-quick schemes, but there’s always someone who’ll take a bite from the forbidden apple.

So until the overminds bore of stirring Earth’s anthill, there’s Tech Jury Service: random humans, selected arbitrarily, charged with assessing dozens of new inventions and ruling on whether to let them loose. Young Huw, a technophobic, misanthropic Welshman, has been selected for the latest jury, a task he does his best to perform despite an itchy technovirus, the apathy of the proletariat, and a couple of truly awful moments on bathroom floors.

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Context (Excerpt)

Your daily food for thought comes from a selection of essays written by Cory Doctorow from is book Context, out now from Tachyon Publications.

Discussing complex topics in an accessible manner, Cory Doctorow shares visions of a future where artists control their own destinies and where freedom of expression is tempered with the view that creators need to benefit from their own creations. From extolling the Etsy marketverse to excoriating Apple for dumbing-down technology while creating an information monopoly, each unique piece is brief, witty, and at the cutting edge of tech. Now a stay-at-home dad as well as an international activist, Doctorow writes as eloquently about creating internet real-time theater with his daughter as he does in lambasting the corporations that want to limit and profit from inherent intellectual freedoms.

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Shannon’s Law

Please enjoy Cory Doctorow’s short story “Shannon’s Law,” featured in the anthology Welcome to Bordertown, out May 24th from Random House. For an introduction to the world of Bordertown, click here.

***

When the Way to Bordertown closed, I was only four years old, and I was more interested in peeling the skin off my Tickle Me Elmo to expose the robot lurking inside his furry pelt than I was in networking or even plumbing the unknowable mysteries of Elfland. But a lot can change in thirteen years.

When the Way opened again, the day I turned seventeen, I didn’t hesitate. I packed everything I could carry—every scratched phone, every half-assembled laptop, every stick of memory, and every Game Boy I could fit in a duffel bag. I hit the bank with my passport and my ATM card and demanded that they turn over my savings to me, without calling my parents or any other ridiculous delay. They didn’t like it, but “It’s my money, now hand it over” is like a spell for bending bankers to your will.

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