Monday, October 17, 2016

Recommending Cory Doctorow's sci-fi writing

Several friends have asked me about Cory Doctorow's Down & Out in the Magic Kingdom.

I recommend it!

  • As great Literature, i give it a C
  • As a quick, entertaining read, A
  • As thought provoking social sci-fi that I think about often, A
  • As having an ineffable sparkling spirit, A
  • As a sampler of the writing of someone whose work you might enjoy continuing to read, A+
All his books are free on his website,, as well as available in various traditional formats for money. Here's the html version of Down & Out.

Some find Doctorow too "light" compared to, say, Ancillary Justice, but I really enjoy his imagination and grounding in political and economic issues. Doctorow worked for the EFF for many years, and is responsible for much of the venerable nerd blog Boingboing's political voice.

I also deeply appreciate his constant push to challenge himself and grow his art. Some of my favorite reads have been his ambitious novels that, in my opinion, fail to build a cohesive and effective whole, but are interesting failures. After D&OITMC:

  • if you like his density of tech ideas, you should read his short story collection Overclocked
  • If you're into the political/tech activist edge, you should read his radical, breathtaking young adult book Little Brother
  • If you're into the ineffable sparkling spirit of D&O, you should read his collection A Place So Foreign, which has stories about, eg, an alien collector of earth memorabilia, and Superman becoming political
  • If you're into the future economics/culture of work stuff, you might try reading his ambitious failure Makers, which is a near future tale of a startup that tries to use 3d printing as an engine to reinvent work
  • If you want to read his most literarily ambitious work, which has one foot in magic absurdism and one foot in startup culture, you might try his Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town. It didn’t really come together for me, but he’s trying something difficult and builds a unique fictional world.

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