The first novel by Cory Doctorow I read, some time in the early 2000s, was Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom. I read it, believe it or not, on a PalmPilot. I’m not bringing this up because that was Singularity-level technology for me at the time (even though it was!) but rather to illustrate just one of the reasons why Doctorow gained a loyal fan base early on in his career: he’s been releasing his books under Creative Commons licenses since the very beginning, meaning you can head to his website right now and download one or more of his novels or collections.
It’s also an illustration of what may be Doctorow’s most defining characteristic as an author: he wears his politics on his sleeve. Fiction or non-fiction, long form or short, Doctorow will work his opinions about copyright law or digital privacy or economic injustice into the text. For better or worse, whether you like it or not, these books come with a message, and Doctorow will make 100% sure that you get that message and then some. (It’s one of the main reasons why some readers don’t click with his fiction; I’ve heard people say they may as well read his Boing Boing columns, which often deal with the exact same issues.)
To each their own: I’ve always enjoyed Doctorow’s novels, because they’re fast-paced, funny, and full of interesting (if occasionally somewhat interchangeable) characters. Even if you happen to disagree with his opinions, at least they’re expressed clearly, intelligently, and out in the open, rather than hidden in the subtext. (They’re about as far removed from hidden in the subtext as possible, actually.)