Tor.com content by

Cory Doctorow

Fiction and Excerpts [19]
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Fiction and Excerpts [19]

Beyond Cyberpunk: The Intersection of Technology and Science Fiction

People with established careers are terrible sources of advice on how to break into their chosen field. When I was a baby writer, I attended numerous panels about getting established, where writers a generation or two older than me explained how to charm John W Campbell into buying a story for Astounding Stories. This was not useful advice. Not only had Campbell died six days before I was born, but he was also a fascist.

I have two careers, one in tech and the other in SF, a peanut-butter-and-chocolate combo that’s got a long history in the field, and I am often asked how to break into both fields. I know an awful lot about how to sell a story to Gardner Dozois, who stopped editing Asimov’s sixteen years ago and died two years ago, but I know nothing about pitching contemporary SF editors.

[Likewise: I know an awful lot about breaking into the tech industry circa 1990]

Ten Years Later, Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother Remains Inevitable

It’s not really the tenth anniversary of Little Brother. More like the 12th. I wrote the first proposal for Little Brother on May 7th, 2006, and finished the first draft on July 2, 2006, after eight weeks of the most intense writing of my life. I originally pitched it as “Encyclopedia Brown meets Wargames,” and the working title was “Wikipedia Brown.”

Twelve years later, technology has changed in profound ways that have upended our political, social, and economic systems. Technology is at the heart of how we fight wars, how we wage struggles for justice, how we fall in love, how we work and learn. Hardly a day goes by without some terrible or wonderful revelation about a new technology or a new use for an old one.

[Read more]

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.

[Read more]

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.

[Read more]

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.

[Read more]

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.

[Read More]

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