Cory Doctorow

Yes, Thank You Cory Doctorow

Killing time, surfing Feedly feeds and saw this post from Willy-Bob Wheaton recalling a story about the time he sent his first draft of his a book he was working on Cory Doctorow to read and Cory gave him the honest truth: there’s a good tale in there but the writing ain’t so great.  Eventually Wheaton overcomes self-doubt generated by said tough love, and does the tough work of rewriting and rewriting until he gets his first book published.  Nice illustration of the first law of Ira Glass.

Anyhow Wheaton linked to a site called  I Write Like which purports to analyze something you’ve written and tell you who you write like.  Wheaton was happy he got “You write like Cory Doctorow” and I just put in a piece of an unfinished story AND I got “You write like Cory Doctorow”.  I would also take it as a complement but I’m a little suspicious of the website since it doesn’t divulge any details on what it actually does to come up with an answer.

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Everything Is Internet Policy

Another great talk from Cory Doctorow on the nature of the Internet and its relationship to society.

You might also be interested in this recent interview between Tim Wu and Cory Doctorow hosted at Slate:

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Bookmark: Cory Doctorow

I met Cory Doctorow once at a conference called Supernova in Washington DC back in the very early part of the ‘naughts.  It was actually about technology policy which is the fascinating thing about Cory Doctorow, talented and successful writer; he’s also quite an effective public advocate for a number of progressive 21st Century causes, including privacy and copyright reform.  He’s had an impressive public life.

It’s the books though where he has been able to wrap his ideas around and through interesting narrative; probably still the best way to get through to majority of the world.  I’ve read everything from him except his very latest which is Pirate Cinema.  I just finished his collaboration with Charlie Stross titled The Rapture of the Nerds.  I like Doctorow’s and Stross’ novels and while Rapture had some interesting elements in it, I thought it was a bit of a letdown for both of them.  1 + 1 = something just short of 2 here and certainly not more than 2.

Doctorow’s other novels include:

His last three are very focused on incorporating current ideas and a little less weird then the first three.  For the Win explores China and massively multiplayer online games (MMO) (it had some superficial topical similarities to Neal Stephenson’s very recent book ReamDe); Makers explores an extrapolation of the democratization of design and manufacture in the 21st century (along with designer drugs and body modification) and Little Brother deals with the new surveillance society.  I liked the flat out weirdness of Doctorow’s first third novel but I do think he’s moving in a great direction with his newer work and I continue to be a fan of the stories.

Anyhow, this post is a good reminder for me to go find a copy of Pirate Cinema.

March 2013 UPDATE: Finished Pirate Cinema. Quite good, even if the main character felt just a bit like a Mary Sue for an imagined young Cory Doctorow.

March 2013 UPDATE #2:  Just finished reading Homeland, the sequel to Little Brother which is actually newer than Pirate Cinema (one of the benefits of blogging is sorting that kind of stuff out).  Homeland, like it’s prequel Little Brother is discomfortable in its plausibility. It is not really set in the future so much as maybe next week.  And its mix of technology, authoritarian government and corporate control alongside its young protagonists give it a lot of punch.  I’d recommend both  books, certainly for highschool and up, not 100 percent sure about middle school kids, I guess it depends on the kid and the parents.

Reading Homeland was also entertaining for a long time Doctorow fan — you can read his books now with a Cory Bingo card — just put on it: coffee, Disneyland, chile peppers, linux, hacker, maker, and you’re bound to get a bingo while reading any of his books.

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Fiction Reading This Summer

I read a bunch of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels this summer, not really in order though.  It’s just a wonderful series, funny, but a coherent enough fantasy world that you care about the stories and the characters.  I wish I’d had these to read when I was a kid.

I’ve also been reading John Scalzi’s novels lately.  He’s a fairly “lite-science” science fiction writer and pretty efficient at telling a tale (things happen! characters move!). They’re good reads and the 3 part “Old Man’s War” series is good fun.  I’m in the middle of reading Zoe’s Tale, which is a re-telling (so far) of parts of the “Old Man’s War” series but from the perspective of Zoe, who while a central character in the series never dominated the perspective of the original books.  This one is entirely from her point of view, which as a teenager, is much different that the adults around her.

Here’s an interesting video of a conversation between Cory Doctorow and John Scalzi which covers in part Zoe’s Tale.



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