Cory Efram Doctorow was born on the 17th of July 1971, in Toronto, Canada. Cory is a Canadian-British science fiction writer, a blogger, journalist. He also spent some time as the co-editor of the blog named Boing Boing.
In his freest of time, Cory is an activist, trying to liberalize copyright laws, and also a big proponent of the organization called ‘Creative Commons’. The organization uses a portion of their licenses for Cory’s books.
Common themes in the writing of Doctorow – which are incidentally uncommon themes in the writings of other authors – are the following: file sharing, managing digital rights, and ‘post-scarcity’ economics. SEED School was were Cory received his high school diploma. SEED School acted as an anarchistic ‘free school’ in the city of Toronto. Cory went to four different universities, but didn’t acquire a diploma from any of them.
In June of 1999, Cory along with John Henson and Grad Conn founded the free software P2P company Opencola. It was subsequently sold to the Open Text Corporation of Waterloo, Ontario in the year of 2003. Doctorow is a very capable author and now we are going to take a look at our picks for the best Cory Doctorow books.
LITTLE BROTHER Book Series
Little Brother by Doctorow was published in the year of 2008. It is part of a book-series, featuring two other books – Homeland, published in 2013, and a shorter e-book called Lawful Interception, published in 2013, too. Little Brother attacks and tackles quite the sensitive topics surrounding the overall dystopian theme of the book. It is centered around a post September 11th terrorist attack on America. The plot takes place in San Francisco.
Our main character is Marcus, a teenager. He is a hip and tech-savvy person, attempting to stay away from issues with the principal’s assistant. The time frame of the book is in 2015. Whatever frivolous and lighthearted teenager gags do take place, all, rather quickly, take a marginal position because of the attack. In no time, martial law sets in – a Department of Homeland Security with its group of thugs that are led by a lady with a ‘severe haircut’.
The way that this squadron is explained and how it works, pays homage to the Thought Police featured in George Orwell’s classic 1984.From here on then, Marcus declares war on the Department of Homeland Security, and we see Doctorow’s opinions on subjects like law and freedom, through the lens of Marcus.
The second book, Homeland, deals with the economic collapse of California. Marcus’ past as being a hacker lands him a job as a webmaster for a certain politician that promises change and reform. A nemesis from Marcus’ past comes back – Masha –, but this time it’s Masha that is kidnapped, detained and tortured and the only person to witness it is Marcus. The plot deals with much the same themes as the former, but expands upon them, too.
The final book, ‘Lawful Interceptions’, sees Marcus in the aftermath of a horrible Oakland earthquakes. All of the technological themes are present here, too. All three of these books can just as well be called the best Cory Doctorow books.
IN REAL LIFE
In Real Life by Doctorow was published in 2014. Unlike the previous books, this is actually a graphic novel. The artist that did the illustrations was none other than Jen Wang. In Real Life tackles quite the odd themes: it has gaming online clash with real life as teenager Anda finds out what the secret injustices are that are shrouded behind the pixels of the screen.
Anda is a very shy gamer, but she also has issues with her body weight. In one of Anda’s classes she gets invited to join a massive multiplayer online role playing game referred to as Coarsegold. At the thought of this prospect, Anda is delighted and elated. Her parents give Anda the thumbs up, and she joins the guild of the presenter. The guild is a small squad of girls playing the game as female avatars.
Anda’s online username in the game is Kalidestroyer. As what any proper thriller involves, out of the blue, Anda is offered by a player in the game – a member of the same guild as Anda named Lucy – a chance to earn some money. Anda, thought adamant, eventually gives in and says yes.
As simple as that, Anda gets thrust into a world of real-world economies where the players of the game are actually workers, in a sense. They acquire items that they can sell for real-world money to others.
Doctorow’s striking and visceral prose allows for the delving into of deeper, darker themes. A truly great work, one of the best Cory Doctorow books.
FOR THE WIN
For the Win by Doctorow was published in 2010. Spanning nearly five-hundred pages, the book is dense with the themes it explores. Like most of Doctorow’s works, this is a techno-thriller. At the same time, it is a Young Adult book.
It sees children attempting to fight against the malevolent powers that stand behind all the profiteering that goes on in the massive multiplayer online role-playing game. All of the virtual prizes and usable items come from the calloused, tired hands of children in sweatshops of third world nations.
These sweatshops are commandeered and run by a group of gangsters. Singularly striking is how eerily similar, almost to the point of mimicry, our world is with this dark future. Some of the games include Nintendo’s Mushroom Kingdom and Zombie Mecha made by Coca-Cola Games.
Oddly enough, Big Sister Nor in Singapore along with a small army of followers slowly, yet surely, recruit and gather the greatest of players into a union with potential to span the whole world unless it’s put down by the corrupt and evil corporations and the subjugating governments. The book gets so interesting and fascinating that the reader, at times, feels like they’re actually playing a real massive multiplayer online role-playing game, at the scale of the one in the book.
There is a certain fault in the book, though. It’s a Young Adult novel, and yet it spends and egregious amount of time and pages discussing the deeper intricacies of the economy in this world. It’s almost too dense for its own sake. Other than that, we think that it’s among the best books by Cory Doctorow, truly.
Doctorow’s book Pirate Cinema was published in the year of 2012. We follow sixteen-year-old Trent McCauley. Trent, a brilliant teenager, has only one interest in life – making movies on his own computer by way of taking footage from mainstream movies that he gets from the Internet.
This, however, is against the law in future Britain. If one is caught while in the act a consecutive three times, one is to be completely cut off from internet with no work, school, health or money benefits, for a period of one year.
Trent, however, doesn’t think that can happen to him. It does, though, and almost destroys his whole family. His father loses his job, his mother cannot get the benefits she’s been getting, his academic sister is completely cut off from her homework.
Trent, after this has happened, leaves for London, learning how to stay alive on the meanest of streets. Artists and activists are his only companions, as they fight against a new bill to be passed – it would mean the jailing of too many people, most notably ones that are minors.
The copyright laws of this future attempt to criminalize creative in the name of having it become secure and protected. The characters are rather well-rounded and interesting, leaving way for a fascinating read, filled with thrills. Though the characters of Doctorow are somewhat too liable to give speeches at a random whim, they do carry the story and remain intriguing from start to finish. Possibly one of Cory Doctorow’s best books.
DOWN AND OUT IN THE MAGIC KINGDOM
Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom was the debut novel by Doctorow, published in the year of 2003. Oftentimes, debut novels don’t quite hit the mark as authors can fall into the rabbit holes of pretentiousness or self-admiration too much, but Doctorow does not.
In this book we have main character Jules. Jules is described as a young man, a mere century old. Jules has, in fact, lived so long that the remedy for death has come and passed its fame, scarcity has ended, and many more things.
He’s fluent in as many as ten languages, too. His dream, though, ever since he was a young, brash boy, was to live in Disney World. Ad-hocs are the ones that keep the classic, older attractions running properly in Disney World, and they have only been improved with minor touches of modern technology.
Jules actually works at Disney World, along with his girlfriend Lil. Being as old as he is, Jules certainly has some anachronistic tendencies to preserve the olden. As such, when certain attractions are planned to be remade into virtual reality attractions, Jules is a bit hesitant. In fact, Jules has died and been ‘revived’ three times already, so when he is inevitably shot and murdered, though irritating and annoying, Jules is all well.
Jules along with suicidal comrade Greg ponder upon what the uninterested population does – they take up cryogenic sleep waiting until the world around them has taken a more interesting shape. Both of them are thinking of taking that path, too.
Truly an invigorating read, Doctorow’s Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom is a pleasant read. It is one of the best Cory Doctorow books and doesn’t disappoint in the slightest