29 December 2009

Little Brother; Cory Doctorow

Little Brother Little Brother by Cory Doctorow
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I read this after seeing the theatrical adaptation in Chicago this past summer. Doctorow's vision of techno-rebellion in the face of increased surveillance/"security" certainly resonates (just last week we had yet another attempted bomber on a plane) but... there's part of me that vividly remembers what happened on Sept. 11 and is not convinced that we have gone too far in our methods. Sure, some are stupid and some are just ill-planned (really? a color-coded alert system??) but we do have an enemy with whom there is no middle ground for bargaining.

His love of technology led to several passages I just had to tune out (how one sends a tunnel in or through DNS, for example) but the rest of the story sounds relatively plausible, particularly the bits about the rest of the country not caring about SF and the gradually creeping increased measures. One would like to think that we couldn't get to that point here, but it's a definite possibility. When he went off on a tirade, as with the conversion of a "real" neighborhood to create City Center, again: tune out time.

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1 comment:

  1. Re. the Doctorow book:

    "Forced" is the apt word here.

    He makes a big deal of included real and actionable (god how I hate that term) tech details in every chapter, but to this somewhat tech-savvy reader they come off as limp recitations of items which can be read in any PC World article over the last 15 years. Perhaps that is because I am old enough to have been reading that mag for 15 years. The audience for whom this book is surely intended has not been reading that long.

    And because he does not have the chops or the desire to drop in outré science fiction twists we get no sniff of the flights of fancy which might make the worthy tech stuff more palatable.

    The admittedly heavy-handed messages about America's betrayal of its principals in the wake of the mass murder on September 11 *did* resonate with me. But I did not see people jumping out of buildings or smell the pall of death and destruction in my city for weeks after that day.

    FWIW - I did care, mostly, about the characters and it was a page-turner for me. A page-turner even as it became more and more clear that I was not the intended audience.

    Possibly a re-post, but Doctrow has an interesting article about reactions to another part of the novel here: http://www.locusmag.com/Perspectives/2009/11/cory-doctorow-teen-sex.html

    Thing Two

    PS - Apropos of the "not the intended audience" thing. I am interested in the mental gymnastics which older readers mus go through when they read this stuff as part of their job. Is this a learned behaviour which comes with training, professionalism and experience?