On yesterday's "This Week in Google," a Google engineer called Matt Cutts revealed that the company started encrypting its queries in 2008 after reading my novel Little Brother, in which one of the plot-elements is a guerrilla movement that gets a friendly ISP to encrypt a lot of its traffic so that the movement's own encrypted connections won't stand out. I am incredibly honored and flattered to learn about this!
Coincidentally, I learned about this at the same time that Jens brought #oplittlebrother to my attention: it's a plan to organize a mass purchase of Little Brother on Saturday (tomorrow!).
Humble Ebook Bundle II: name your price for Last Unicorn, Wil Wheaton, Lois McMaster Bujold, Little Brother, Boneshaker, and Spin!
It's time for another Humble Ebook Bundle! Once again, I was honored to serve as volunteer curator of the Humble Ebook Bundle, a project from the Humble Indie Bundle people who've made Internet history by bundling together awesome, DRM-free media and letting you name your price for it. We did the first Humble Ebook Bundle last fall (with my novel Pirate Cinema) and made over $1.25 million in two weeks (!). The new Ebook Bundle is even cooler. Here's the lineup:
As with all the bundles, there is a secret stash of releases in the wings for week two; if your payment is higher than the average at the time you make it, you get them for free (and they are sweet!). Otherwise, you can always get them by topping up your payment. And as always, there's charities involved -- you can earmark some or all of your payment for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Child's Play, and the Science Fiction Writers of America Emergency Medical Fund.
Boys from Brett Wierzbicki's English class at Cathedral Preparatory Seminary in Queens, NY have been reading my novel Little Brother and Brett gave them the option of doing a book-remix instead of a traditional book-report. All told, they produced seven absolutely terrific remixes of the book, and they were good enough to send them all along for me to share:
Joel's chapter: Joel wrote his own ending for the book, describing the jail-time Marcus served between the final chapter and the epilogue:
We Didn't Start the Xnet: Tyler and Eric made their own remix of "We Didn't Start the Fire" with a Little Brother theme (see above)!
JuanMario's sequel: Juan Mario wrote his own sequel to the story, set two years after Marcus's arrest:
Sean's alternate ending: Sean wrote his own ending to the book!
Thomasz P's song: a Little-Brother-themed set of lyrics for "The Saga Begins," by Weird Al (itself a parody of "The Day the Music Died")
Hunter's video game: Hunter specced out a Little Brother video game called "Rise of the DHS (Rated 'T' for Teen)"
I'm delighted to announce that Chariho High School in Wood River Junction, RI, has chosen my novel Little Brother for its One School/One Book program. Above is a video I recorded for the students; here's a press release [PDF] from Chariho:
This is a good year for Little Brother; it's also the One City/One Book pick for San Francisco.
I am as pleased as is humanly possible to announce that the San Francisco Public Library system has chosen my novel Little Brother for its "One City/One Book" program, the first ever young adult novel to be so honored by the SFPL. I'll be coming to San Francisco in late September to visit the city's libraries and present the book. Thank you, San Francisco -- and thank you especially, SFPL!
Dear Cory Doctorow,
Little Brother is one of those drastically important books that deals with real issues affecting everyone. This book was, in my opinion, more than just a book; it was a persuasive, life-changing book, the kind of gem that comes around too infrequently.
Before I read Little Brother I was scared to try something different. I surrounded myself with the same old young-adult novels (you know- goes on a quest, learns many things, big fight with a troll, the end) and never dared to step out of my little box.
One day during the sixth grade I saw a kid with too many teeth sitting in a dusty corner, reading Little Brother, and asked him what it was about. He shrugged and muttered something incoherent about Harajuku Fun Madness. When I arrived at home I looked up the book on the internet. Before long I discovered your website, and became intrigued by the fact that you were just giving away your e-books.
The book shipped in two days.
I am always thinking. Constantly tossing up an idea, usually shooting it down, tossing up another one, sometimes it flies, I wait for it to crash, then I walk over to it and shoot it another three or four times for good measure. The few months before I read Little Brother this had dumbed down a bit. I could feel it, like I was wearing earplugs, and only low, muffled, blurry ideas wandered through occasionally to stop and say hi before continuing on their way.
After (and during) the reading of Little Brother the haze had lifted and was replaced by an energetic excitement that jumpstarted my brain to life. My neurons hummed like lawnmowers. A refreshing feeling of urgency and eagerness surged through me-- a feeling I’d not experienced since being eight years old on Christmas. And I started thinking again.
I put my flawless (yeah, right) guess-and-test technique to work, meticulously weeding through all the information to make sense of things. I realized just how possible the police-state situation could be- after 9/11 security everywhere was increased and tightened. The scanners updated. The rules stricter. The pat-downs more, ahem, thorough. What if this happened, but on a much larger scale?
Also, I’m a bit more paranoid. I know about those looming possibilities, terrifying ones- that technology could be used against me, that my freedom is more fragile than I thought. Already I’ve begun questioning the things presented to me as fact. I look at something and decide for myself if it’s the opinion I want to have.
My favorite part about Little Brother is how, in some way or another, it opened me up to so many other books and authors- Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore, Jack Kerouac, George Orwell, the list could go on and on.
Little Brother was and still remains the most important book I’ve ever read. If I had not read your book I would be awfully different, and probably much more ignorant and stubborn. Because of your book I started writing. I read more. I think more. You have written a book that is not only good, but life-changing as well. Thanks.
WH Smith automatically adding DRM to DRM-free ebooks, but there’s an interim solution while they fix it
The UK Bookseller WH Smith has been experiencing some kind of bug in its ebook store, whereby it adds DRM to all of the Kobo ebooks it sells, even the ones that are supposed to be DRM-free (like mine). Apparently, this is a metadata-parsing issue. I spoke to my agent and publisher, and WH Smith/Kobo came up with a good workaround while they fix the bug:
Hey, Houston! I'll be at Brazos Bookstore tonight at 7PM with my new novel Bookpeople and then a benefit for EFF-Austin, and then I'm heading north to New Hampshire where I'll be at RiverRun Books and the Liberty Forum. And there's still many more cities!
Cory Doctorow is a fast and furious storyteller who gets all the details of alternate reality gaming right, while offering a startling, new vision of how these games might play out in the high-stakes context of a terrorist attack. Little Brother is a brilliant novel with a bold argument: hackers and gamers might just be our country’s best hope for the future.
Jane McGonical, Designer, I Love Bees