dingbat

News

Little Brother


Little Brother is my first young adult novel, a story about hacker kids in San Francisco who use technology to reclaim democracy from the Department of Homeland Security after a terrorist attack and the concomitant crackdown. It was published by Tor Books on April 29, 2008.


54 Responses to “Little Brother”

  1. Lantrix says:

    I just started reading this using one of your CC ebooks, and I have to admit Cory that I had never heard of your books until I read about them on a blog, being http://www.celticbear.com/weblog/2008/04/22/little-brothers-watching-big-brother-and-bush-hates-literacy/
    As a 'paranoid' geeked I'm hooked on Little Brother.

  2. Sara says:

    I just picked up 'Little Brother' & read it in one sitting. I'm sending it to my 13-year old nephew right now!

  3. FrancisPL says:

    I've just finished "Little Brother" and I must say that this book is probably the most important novel in the early XXI century. Sure, it is not ideal - but which book is?

    I was born and grown up in Poland, and I know exactly what can happen if the Government decide to go too far in the security area. And "Little Brother" shows how important our freedom is, and how easily we can loose it. This novel is the modern equivalent of Orwell's "1984", written for teenagers. Good job!

  4. One of the most amazing books that I have read in recent times. I almost felt that the character of Marcus was based on me; though I'm not half as smart as he was, I can relate to him a lot, the ARGing, LARPing, geek stuff. The thrill of coding, and social ineptness.

    I must commend you on writing one of the most influential of books, and very relevant in the new age, the first decade of the 21st century.

    I was deeply moved after reading the book, and was also scared.

    "I went fast to Mr Benson's office. Cameras filmed me as I went. 
    My gait was recorded. The arphids in my student ID broadcast my 
    identity to sensors in the hallway. It was like being in jail."

    You are 100% pure genius. Keep writing :) .

  5. reclusive says:

    I plan on recommending Little Brother to anyone and everyone, regardless of their age.

  6. greatgatsby says:

    This is a fantastic read. Truly entertaining and forces us to make a stand. Another achievement, Cory!

    I first read Down and Out but I was completely amazed when I read Eastern Standard Tribe. There was so much there that I could relate to. And then this. Pretty awesome.

    I've always been a geek-at-heart (I fail at programming), and I will recommend this to my friends.

  7. Ross Bearman says:

    Just finished reading this book, saw it in my local Waterstones and had to by it after seeing the author and the subject matter!

    I couldn't put it down, read until 4am, such an incredibly detailed and well written.

    First time I've ever read a fiction book containing things I know so well, ParanoidLinux, GPG and such. Was a really gripping read and the well written explanations of each technology made it perfect for my family as well.

    Really couldn't congratulate you more on such a well thought out story.

  8. Markus says:

    I really liked this story. I hope you continue to make more stories like this.

  9. zoran says:

    The Book for the 21st century fight for freedom and liberation.
    So pure, so innocent. Unpretentious, yet witty and geniously assembled.

  10. Kristin says:

    LOVED LOVED LOVED your book. I have requests for me to purchase multiple copies for our library. Any ideas when it will be coming out in paperback?

  11. Cory Doctorow says:

    Thanks! Currently, the paperback is scheduled for 2010.

  12. Dennis says:

    I just finished this book and it scared the crap out of me. I recognize now that for a good five to six years after 9/11 I acted a lot like Marcus' father. It was only after I made my first airplane trip with my family and we were all subjected to extensive exam by airport security simply because our airline tickets were chosen at random. That's when I started looking around and noticing that the government's efforts to make us feel secure are ludicrous. But people keep buying into it. I'm encouraging my kids to read this book as well.

  13. Travis says:

    Wow. Although I knew about this book a while before it came out, it took me until just this month to get around to reading it. I'm sorry I waited so long.

    I read the html version on my iPod and finished it in a couple days. I have full intentions of buying a permanent paperback copy as soon as I can, and I'm recommending it to everybody I know, especially fellow students at my college.

    I believe this book has the potential to change society and should be considered among the classics of dystopian literature such as Orwell's 1984 and Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451

    Thanks for an amazing book, Cory, and keep up the good work.

  14. Jay says:

    Hi, Just a note to say just finished your book and thought it was a brilliant story. I know it's 'young adult' and I'm unfortunately no longer in that category but I found it really moving, very engaging and will definitely be recommending it all over the place. Great work, thanks. J

  15. Cameron says:

    I was put off by the lead up to the launch,"NOpe not going to buy or read it" I thought.

    Well I just finished it and I am impressed, it was moving, intelligent, fun, very real :( and sexy in a teenage geek way, ( thanks for the reminder of awkward but exciting times :) too many years ago alas) and I will be giving it to my 15 year old son to read.

    Modern marketing has turned me into a narrow minded fool some days, thanks for reminding me not to be one.

    cheers

    C

  16. Joe Iriarte says:

    Howdy. I'm a high school math teacher at a public school in Florida. I'm getting ready to begin an extra-credit read-and-discussion group with my (roughly) 100 students* based on Little Brother.

    I've wanted to find a way to bring my love of reading and science fiction into my math classroom for years, and several things have come together to make it finally possible for me now. One of these is the available of reasonably easy-to-use forum software that can allow me to set up a private forum that protects my students' identities, allowing us to have our discussions online and not sacrifice my curriculum. But another is the fact that you make this book available for free. I'm going to make my students aware of where they can buy a physical copy, and provide links to online vendors, but since this is a public school, our rules prohibit me from engaging in an activity that forces people to spend their own money to participate. I'd have to be able to buy copies for everyone, or secure a donation for that purpose, or buy a small set and repeat the experience at different intervals, once per period say, trying to get all my books back between readings. In the past that has always made such an activity more trouble than it was worth. Now I don't have that hurdle to jump, but I'm willing to bet a lot of kids will buy the book, finding it more comfortable to read that way. I'll try to keep an informal tally of how many kids actually do buy it. (I've also gotten our library, which did not previously stock the book, to order a few copies.)

    Anyway, I certainly don't need to tell you any of that, but I thought you might appreciate more cannon fodder next time you get into that discussion about the benefits of making your work available for free, and of macropayments vs. micropayments.

    Are there online resources for teachers that go with this book? I can do my own homework, but if you or anybody else here can point me toward something I might otherwise miss when I get around to googling, that'd be great. I'm not looking for quizzes or project ideas--because this is intended to be, uh, fun--but anything that can make our discussions richer would be pretty cool.

    *Since it's an optional activity, I'm not claiming that all 100 will participate, but hopefully a decent fraction will.

  17. Cory Doctorow says:

    Joe, that sounds AMAZING! Please let me know how it goes!

  18. Joe Iriarte says:

    Will do. :)

    um, may I have your permission to post an image of the cover of the book on a students-only web page?

  19. dmac says:

    I teach High School English in Texas. Today I had to moniter a stupid test in the library. As I was pacing not through the shelves, but around the "new and special selections" table, what do I see but your book. I am a religious and daily BoingBoing reader and I reference your site frequently in my AP classes. Now that I know your book in is our library I will be pointing students to it often.

  20. Cory Doctorow says:

    So great, Dmac!

  21. DMac says:

    My class is actually about argumentation and rhetoric...analyzing the devices writers use to persuade. I do a unit at the beginning of the year on privacy/liberty vs security. If I can't find a way to work the book in (most selections are shorter non-fiction pieces) I will at least recommend it to those students who express an interest in the topic. It's nice to have something other than 1984 (which I love) to suggest. Might I suggest a book related to another aspect of government interference? Look into Unintended Consequences by John Ross. It concerns gun rights, but I have always considered the two issues (privacy and gun rights) intricately linked

  22. Derek says:

    What a thrilling read! Now for an admission....I haven't read a novel since I left school....and I'm nearly 27, so that's a long time - I was never much of a reader! But last week my boss randomly gave me a copy of little brother and I thought I should perhaps try and be a little more "cultured" as I approach 30, and threw myself into it. It transformed my train commute for the last week or so (having not read a book in ages I'm quite a slow reader!) and I have to tell you I thoroughly enjoyed it. A thoroughly gripping story, great characters and a light dusting of technology explanations throughout the book, I thought it was brilliant!

    I will definitely be recommending it (although I'm not sure how much people will listen to someone who has read his first novel since compulsory school reading). I'm now off to find other books to read - you may just have turned me into a novel reader Mr Doctorow - thank you!!

  23. Hannah says:

    Hi there Cory!

    Naturally, like everyone else, I would love to commend you on the great read that Little Brother was.

    At the moment, I'm in my last year of school in Australia, and we're studying George Orwell's 1984 for English. In my random wikipedia and google searches, I frequently come across messages from people saying how this world has become that of 1984. Throughout reading Little Brother, which I finished this morning, I kept coming across things that I connected with 1984. I actually was idiotic to think that it was a coincidence, until Darryl was described as an 'unperson' - just like in 1984.

    Aside from all of that rambling, I'd love to say that this is alike to an up-to-date version of the dystopian 1984! I loved it!

    Thanks for writing it!

  24. Jane says:

    I found Little Brother on the Librarians Recommend shelf in Portland, Oregon. I gulped it down, and will be looking for your other books.

    I was thrilled to see you mention Daniel Pinkwater. I feel quite sure that I would not be who I am without his books, and I hope you have gotten his The Big Orange Splot for your little girl.

  25. Yossi says:

    Hey Cory!

    Aside from entertaining me greatly, Little Brother has inspired me to think about this technology thing that passes between my fingers daily, being a web developer and teacher. The first decision I've had after (sadly) finishing your book has been to privately teach teenagers how to program for the web, create web pages and manage databases, etc. Not for my own profit, but to make some kind of contribution to the next generation of the web.

    Other than that, thank you for the many ideas, historical info and links in the book, I learned a lot. I bought my copy in Jerusalem, Israel.

  26. Chakena says:

    I am classified as a "yound adult" and Its truly amzing how detailed you had written this novel. I would recommend this to any of my friends. I must admit that I am a "picky reader" but, reading this science fiction based novel changed my "pickiness". Please write a part II or another novel similar to this. I am looking forward to reading your other novels also! I thought I'd never read science fiction for leisure reading but, from now on, I'll never say never to any book! You don't know what you'll enjoy until you try it so I'm glad I didn't over look this one

  27. Flamelief says:

    I loved the book. I'm a few years younger than the character but i'm all into the computer programming and stuff. It was one of the best books i've read in a while. Thanks for writing such an awesome book!
    The high school characters made it all the more real. I think you should go on with a sequel or something; I really liked it.

  28. Bob McGwier says:

    I am not a young adult, but I am both young at heart and a professional in the areas described in Little Brother. I have never seen the topics of public key exchange, "false positives", Bayesian re-esimation, and more dealt with in a better way ever if the goal was to build intuition for what it was actually about rather than to impart mathematically correct logic. If a person reads Little Brother and does not come away feeling more informed about the importance of protection privacy, dealing responsibly with the information which is used to run their lives, most notably your identity as seen by officials in institutions, then I cannot think of how you might ever learn it. This book is a must read for anyone who is alive now and on the grid.

  29. Cory Doctorow says:

    Holy cow, thanks, Bob!

  30. Keiya says:

    Why should we trust you? You're over 25!

    I kid. Actually, I just read the entire thing in one sitting. I'll be reading it again later. And probably getting paper copies. Multiple, to share, if I can pull it off... I'm already linking this everywhere.

  31. timber says:

    Little Brother found me in the form of a gift from my older brother. It came with a simple note, scrawled on a sticky note: READ ASAP. I did. When I was finished, I read it again. This novel struck me as no other has for a very long time. After the second reading, I was shivering.

    I have a good idea of how useless this "safer security" is. I am myself a senior in high school, and I've had to deal with the crap since seventh grade. Our school has metal detectors installed at every possible enterance, video cameras in every classroom, and security guards who would frisk you as soon as look at you.

    The one piece of security that irks the most students is easily the school's network server. This server has every type of snoopware you've ever heard of, and then some; it's not unheard of for a computer to lock down because some freshman let their mouse hover on the Minesweeper shortcut for too long. The internet filtering is a joke; last year, they blocked Wikipedia.

    After reading Little Brother, I had a very stronge urge to pay them back for all of the headaches I've experienced. I went into a hacking frenzy, kept anonymous by my new favorite program, TOR. Early last week, I set my creation loose through the network. In the next few days, the network was crashing left and right; I don't think the tech guys slept all week.

    I couldn't help but smirk when the news was announced last Friday. My little program had damaged the network so severely that they had to scrap the whole thing. It'll take them at least a year to get anything new in its place.

    Thank you, Cory, for inspiring me to spread a little more freedom in this world that needs so much more of it.

  32. Shwetank says:

    Ya.. Cory is over 25. Lol

  33. Eryk says:

    Hi Cory,
    I do a fair amount of commuting by car, so I like to listen to Books on CD. I was attracted to the title and cover art. I'm not YA aged either (57). 1984 has always been a favorite, one of the few books I've read more than once (actually 7 times, plus many times of picking it up for reference or fun). It had me instantly, the well-defined characters, the sense of todayness/tomorrowness of their lives and activities. It was fun, plus we can all appreciate a good story well-told. Kudos and bravos to you. I shall try some of your other work. I live near Seattle, actually only a few miles from the Norwescon 33 venue, so hopefully I'll get to meet you in April.

  34. Cory Doctorow says:

    Hope to see you in April!

  35. Bill Blank says:

    I am having trouble reviewing this book, because It so matches my ideas and feelings about the current state of America so closely. Reading this was like reading a book I could have written, if I had any talent. Reading this was like having someone in my head picking through my emotions and thoughts.

    The book is simply a contemporary exposé of the dangers of having a powerful Department of Homeland Security (CIA, FBI, ϟϟ, MI5, KGB) by whatever name, superficially written for young adults, which for some strange reason actually means teens. And, it is about how an individual can indeed change a status quo. All that is required are courage, intelligence and education. Its message to teens (and all of us) is, "you can make a difference"; you can stand up to the powers that be and win.

    "We recognize, however dimly, that greater efficiency, ease, and security may come at a substantial price in freedom, that law and order can be a doublethink version of oppression, that individual liberties surrendered, for whatever good reason, are freedoms lost." - Walter Cronkite, preface to the 1984 edition of George Orwell's '1984'."

  36. Heroid Shehu says:

    I'm Heroid Shehu from Kosovo, i'm 15 years old will turn 16 soon, and i totally liked this book i am also looking forward to translate it into Albanian since its Creative Commons, i also liked the GNU/Linux part because i also use GNU/Linux it would be awesome if someone would make a movie of this book.

    Cory you're the best!

  37. generatrixX says:

    The thing that makes this book so improbable is that this tech-fueled revolution is led by a bunch of white, middle class kids who really don't know shit about revolutionary movement. Hippies and Yippies? Wavy Gravy is a nice guy (my son has gone to his camp up in mendocino before), and their media-fu was waaaaaaaayyyy outside the box back in the day, but it would have been so much more believable (and maybe more educational for all those YA readers out there) if this kid had gotten some info on a truly popular social movement (UFW, say, or Black Panthers that you so blithely move on from after less than a line each), and THAT had inspired him. And hippies? Come on. Social movement is NOT the same as "lifestyle movement"; although the two coincide, what i find is that once any movement gets sufficiently appropriated it becomes a "lifestyle" with little social or political substance, and its effectiveness decreases (see: anarchists. What have they DONE, post WTO rebellion seattle? And have you heard any report-backs from people-of-color organizers who were present in Seattle and were STILL marginalized? i have).

    Here's the thing: techie privacy-activists (in San Francisco they're mostly white or assimilated Asian, and mostly male) are smart, articulate, and know a lot about the things they know about, but to me (a formerly homeless, politically aware Black woman who happens to have the fortune and the mis-fortune to live in the ever-more-heavily gentrified Mission district, SF), they really seem to be afflicted with blinders when it comes to how their personal privilege and the attitudes that result from it exacerbate the very problems they are up in arms against. For instance: the narrator of the book ( the hero of the story who ostensibly represents the techno-geek ideal) makes quite a few references to homeless people not as people, but as hygenic problems similar to garbage (they "smell like toilets"); he dehumanizes poor people with stereotyping (walking down 24th street and mission past all the "weirdos", ie, "intense" Mexican men, drug users, etc); he sums up all the kids his age who may not have tech as a hobby but are still oppressed by the judicial system as the "real crinimals" (as opposed to himself) that he has to be around in the Mission district juvenile group home. And the only people of color in the story that get lots of play are the two girls who want him (how male-white-fantasy-month-oh-wait-that's-every-month stereotypical is this ---the hot Asian alterno-chick and the sexually uninhibited Mexican girl----?????).

    I kept hoping that somewhere in the story there would come a revelation for the narrator that the dehumanizing that he habitually handed out to people in "his" city who are not like him is the same kind of crap that DHS uses to justify torturing him and his friends to the public he is trying to reach, and that the so - called "bad element" who live in places like the TL are the ones who are at the razor's edge of oppressive city, state, and federal gov't ALWAYS, and that it is people like HIM who ignore what happens to them who give the oppressors tacit permission to continue their bullshit until *surprise!* the shit trickles up enough for the middle class to start to feel it (fingerprinted to be able to have access to shelters? Why not? Everyone knows homeless people are criminals, they should be controlled! Wait… what do you mean I have to take a pee test every month at work and I’m on the no-fly list if I object to being anally probed at the airport search???). Sadly for me and the rest of your readers, especially the young ones, this epiphany never occurs.

    There are exactly two scenes that gave me a little hope that maybe you were writing Marcus as a typical privilege-geek with regard to social conscience: first was the one where Jose-Luis tells Marcus that he’s not going to help him because people-of-color are not protected by white-skin privilege. I was praying that maybe you would use that as a jumping off point for the narrator to reflect a little on how his own privilege and that of his parents and friends paid into the system that was oppressing him now, but… no. Then the next scene was toward the end when the narrator notes that almost everyone held had been black or brown: I was thinking, “Ahhh, here it comes, he’s going to elaborate on the responsibility of people with more privilege to fight for and with those who are targeted more because of their race, or class, or background…” but no. Jose-Luis telling Marcus he could not continue was exciting for me because at that point in the book, I was starved for any reference to any truth that would reflect MY experience with these issues, but later on I started feeling like it was a cop-out on your part. After all, Jolu’s character, had he stayed involved, could have been a bridge for Marcus to get viewpoints on liberation struggle that maybe could widen his white, middle class, SF-suburban viewpoints. Jolu, like many people of color who are talented at assimilating, maintains life and friends that are separate from his white friends. I was hoping this would be a way for the Marcus character to build alliances with people who were also into liberation movement but who were not like him, not techie or with-money or kind-of ignorant of liberation cultures before 1968.

    But no.

    All-in-all, despite the really cool and informative tech stuff, I was disappointed with the book, but it was a pretty familiar disappointment (I read a lot of white-male spec/sci/fi dudes). After all, why should you (another white-male spec/sci/fi dude), who are not a person of color or seem to be very economically marginalized, care about the issues I’ve just raised enough to work them out in your book? Why should you even be more than cursorily aware of them?
    Which is my point. I wish you techie-privacy-activist-digital-frontier bastards and your sicon valley millionaire foundation backers could just try a LITTLE harder to inject some grassroots social justice into your causes. And I don’t mean one-sided Digital-Divide stuff, either (“wow, if we could just get all those housing-project-dwellers ONLINE, they could join OUR communities and we could all be on each others’ Fbook pages!”). Ah, hell, maybe I’m not being fair to you, Doctorow. I’m only going on this one book.

    You get what I’m saying, though.

  38. Mr.LlamaGER says:

    I just read your book and must say that i was surprised.
    Surprised of how well written it was, how much tension is produced. I think that this intense tension is originated in the scenario that is not as irreal as one would think at first glance. This book really sucked me in and I read it in one session.
    The story really embodys the spirit of many teens all over the world and it was sometimes scary of how possible the whole development seems (is?).
    I was really impressed and hope to read some more of you.
    Sincerely,
    Chris

  39. M1k3y says:

    Please please make a sequel on it!!I am really begging you.Please,i really really loved the book and I want a sequel.PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  40. Sebastian says:

    Loved the e-book. Without the creative commons, I would have never found you as a writer. Started with your first novel, but this one is a real blast.
    To support your work, I've bought a couple of your books; one for myself to show in my bookcase (next to 1984 and brave new world) and one for the school my son attends to.

    Thanks!
    Sebastian

  41. [...] Christian Wöhrt, Übersetzer und faBy nightheart, Vertoner von Cory Doctorows Roman “Little Brother“, der Berliner und Hagellocher Lokalheld schneck08 und natürlich die Veranstalter des [...]

  42. [...] Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother gelezen. Ik vind het een actueel boek, dat ingaat op het gevaar van het inzetten van technologie om [...]

  43. [...] Image by colemama The high school book club had our monthly book discussion today – Little Brother by Cory Doctorow (of Boing Boing). The focus on surveillance issues, technology use, and terrorism [...]

  44. Greg says:

    I really enjoyed my experience reading Little Brother. There were times I was infuriated; there were times I was appreciative -- I don't know how Cory Doctorow knows all this history and tech stuff, but I'm happy he's passing it on; there were times I was touched -- a little romance never hurt anybody; and there were times I had a good laugh -- bite, bite, bite, bite, bite.

    Thank you.

  45. Nick Chapman says:

    Awesome. I'm a San Francisco native, major burrito eater, and would be radical, so you can imagine how thrilled I was by your book - and about sharing it with my nephews and other younger kids (I'm in my 40s). It has a kind of radical sensibility that I associate in a way with 68 combined with a very contemporary hacker sensibility that will connect with them. I felt the same way about For the Win, which was the first book of yours I read. I'm writing now because I would like to donate copies of those two books, but I am having trouble figuring out if you are still doing that, or if it is only with the more current books, like your PM Press title. (I loved their Kim Stanley Robinson book so I am looking forward to yours.)

  46. Cory Doctorow says:

    Thanks, Nick! Yup, donation's are still on: http://craphound.com/littlebrother/donate

  47. n8 says:

    reading it for school...Amazing book.

  48. Unquestionably believe that which you stated. Your favorite reason appeared to be on the internet the simplest thing to be aware of. I say to you, I definitely get annoyed while people think about worries that they plainly don't know about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top and also defined out the whole thing without having side effect , people can take a signal. Will likely be back to get more. Thanks

  49. Travis says:

    I am actually reading this for an on-line course at coursera.org (Professor Rabkin's "Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World") and have enjoyed it thoroughly.

    I've read the novel before, and noticed something on the second reading. Vanessa/Van is mentioned in close proximity to Van Ness Ave (Van Ness A), and I wondered if four kids at the beginning had names inspired by pieces of San Fran. Darryl Place, Marcus Garvey Square and San Jose Ave perhaps? I wasn't sure if that was just a happy coincidence or not. If it is deliberate, I was wondering what the significance of the names were.

    Also, I noticed a typo in the intro of Chapter 11: "Duane Wilkins. Duance's a real science fiction fan..." Duance should be Duane I imagine. :)

    Thanks a lot for the novel. It's been a pleasure reading it a second time.

  50. [...] Cory Doctorow‘s sequel to Little Brother, revisits San Francisco several years after the Bay Bridge is destroyed in the worst terrorist [...]

Leave a Reply

Creative Commons License

Cory Doctorow’s craphound.com is proudly powered by WordPress
Entries (RSS) and Comments (RSS).