/ / Attack Surface, Little Brother

In an interview in the LA Review of Books, Technology and Politics Are Inseparable: An Interview with Cory Doctorow, Eliot Peper digs into the backstory and ethos of the Little Brother books in general and Attack Surface in particular:

Attack Surface explores how technology is not the solution to social problems, but a morally neutral accelerant to political action, and that ultimately only politics can solve social problems. How did you learn this lesson? How did it change your worldview? What does it mean for someone who wants to contribute to building a better future?

I started in politics — my parents are activists who started taking me to protests when I was in a stroller. But in 1977, when I was six, we got our first computer (a teletype terminal and acoustic coupler that let me connect to a DEC minicomputer at the university my dad was studying at). I never thought that computers on their own could solve our political problems — but I always thought that computers would play an important role in social and political struggles.

Technology and politics are inseparable. There’s a kind of nerd determinism that denies politics (“Our superior technology makes your inferior laws irrelevant”). But just as pernicious is the inverse, the politicos who insist that technology is irrelevant to struggle, sneering about “clicktivism” and “solutionism.” I have logged innumerable hours wheatpasting posters for demonstrations to telephone poles. I can’t believe that anyone who claims networked computers don’t change how politics work has ever wheatpasted a single handbill.

Cryptography cannot create a stable demimonde that is impregnable to oppressive, illegitimate states — over time, you and your co-dissidents will make a mistake, and the protection of math will vanish. But the fact that it’s not impregnable doesn’t disqualify cryptography from being significant to political struggle. Nothing is impregnable. Crypto is a tool — not a tool for obviating politics, but a tool for doing politics.

Moreover, the existence of crypto — the fact that everyday people can have secrets that can’t be read without their consent — changes the equilibrium in oppressive states. The privilege of the powerful — secrecy — has spread to the general public, which means that leaders who are tempted to take oppressive action have to take account of the possibility that the people they oppress will be able to plan their downfall in ways that they will struggle to detect.

/ / Attack Surface, Little Brother

Well this is pretty terrific: Pavel Anni was so taken with my 2020 novel ATTACK SURFACE (the third Little Brother novel) that he’s created “Mashapedia,” a chapter-by-chapter breakdown of the real world technologies in the tale.

https://pavelanni.github.io/attack-surface-tech/attack-surface-tech.html

Pavel is both comprehensive and comprehensible, with short definitions and links for the mundane (MIT Media Lab, EL wire, PGP) to the exotic (binary transparency, reverse shells, adversarial preturbation).

When I was an adolescent, my friend group traded secret knowledge as a kind of social currency – tricks for getting free payphone calls, or doubling the capacity of a floppy disc, or calling the White House switchboard.

I doted on books that promised more of the same: Paladin Press and Amok Catalog titles, Steal This Book, the Anarchist Cookbook, the Whole Earth Review and the Whole Earth Catalog.

But when I sat down in 2006 to write the first Little Brother book, I realized that facts were now cheap – anything could be discovered with a single search. The thing in short supply now was search terms – knowing what to search for.

As John Ciardi wrote,

The old crow is getting slow;
the young crow is not.
Of what the young crow does not know,
the old crow knows a lot.

The young crow flies above, below,
and rings around the slow old crow.
What does the fast young crow not know?
WHERE TO GO.

So I set out to write a book of realistic scenarios, dramatizing what tech COULD do, on the assumption that readers would glean those all-important search-terms from the tale, and that this could launch them on a voyage of discovery.

That’s the ethic I’ve stuck with through all three novels and the short stories in the series. It seems to have worked. Anni’s Mashapedia is the apotheosis of that plan: a comprehensive set of search terms masquerading as a glossary.

Anni’s hosted Mashapedia on Github, and you can amend, extend or contest his definitions by opening an issue in the repo. What a delight!

/ / Attack Surface, News, Podcast


The Attack Surface Lectures were a series of eight panel discussions on the themes in my novel Attack Surface, each hosted by a different bookstore and each accompanied by a different pair of guest speakers.

This program is “Tech in SF” hosted by Interabang Books in Dallas, TX, with guest-hosts Annalee Newitz and Ken Liu. It was recorded on October 20, 2020.

Here is the original Youtube link for this program. Please consider subscribing to Interabang’s Youtube channel for access to all their outstanding author events!

MP3

/ / Attack Surface, News, Podcast

The Attack Surface Lectures were a series of eight panel discussions on the themes in my novel Attack Surface, each hosted by a different bookstore and each accompanied by a different pair of guest speakers.

This program is “Sci-Fi Genre” hosted by Fountain Books in Richmond, VA, with guest-hosts Sarah Gailey and Chuck Wendig. It was recorded on October 16, 2020.


Here is the original Youtube link for this program. Please consider subscribing to Fountain Books’s Youtube channel for access to all their outstanding author events!

MP3

/ / Attack Surface, News, Podcast

The Attack Surface Lectures were a series of eight panel discussions on the themes in my novel Attack Surface, each hosted by a different bookstore and each accompanied by a different pair of guest speakers.

This program is “OpSec & Personal Cyber-Security: How Can You Be Safe?” hosted by Third Place Books in Seattle, WA, with guest-hosts Runa Sandvik and Window Snyder​. It was recorded on October 22, 2020.

Here is the original Youtube link for this program. Please consider subscribing to Third Place’s Youtube channel for access to all their outstanding author events!

MP3

/ / Attack Surface, News, Podcast

The Attack Surface Lectures were a series of eight panel discussions on the themes in Cory Doctorow’s novel Attack Surface, each hosted by a different bookstore and each accompanied by a different pair of guest speakers.

This program is “Cyberpunk and Post-Cyberpunk,” hosted by Anderson’s Books in Naperville, IL, with guest-hosts Bruce Sterling and Christopher Brown. It was recorded on October 19, 2020.

Here is the original Youtube link for this program. Please consider subscribing to Anderson’s Youtube channel for access to all their outstanding author events!

MP3

/ / Attack Surface, News, Podcast

The Attack Surface Lectures were a series of eight panel discussions on the themes in my’s novel Attack Surface, each hosted by a different bookstore and each accompanied by a different pair of guest speakers.

This program is “​​Intersectionality: Race, Surveillance, and Tech and Its History,” hosted by The Booksmith in San Francisco, with guest-hosts Malkia Devich-Cyril and Meredith Whittaker​​. It was recorded on October 15, 2020.

Here is the original Youtube link for this program. Please consider subscribing to The Booksmith’s Youtube channel for access to all their outstanding author events!

MP3

/ / Attack Surface, Podcast

The Attack Surface Lectures were a series of eight panel discussions on the themes in my’s novel Attack Surface, each hosted by a different bookstore and each accompanied by a different pair of guest speakers.

This program is “Cross-Media Sci Fi” hosted by the Brookline Booksmith in Brookline, MA, with guest-hosts John Rogers and Amber Benson. It was recorded on October 14, 2020.

Here is the original Youtube link for this program. Please consider subscribing to The Brookline Booksmith’s Youtube channel for access to all their outstanding author events!

MP3

/ / Attack Surface, News, Podcast

The Attack Surface Lectures were a series of eight panel discussions on the themes in my’s novel Attack Surface, each hosted by a different bookstore and each accompanied by a different pair of guest speakers.

This program is “Politics and Protest,” hosted by The Strand in NYC, with guest-hosts Eva Galperin and Ron Deibert. It was recorded on October 13, 2020.


Here is the original Youtube link for this program. Please consider subscribing to The Strand’s Youtube channel for access to all their outstanding author events!

MP3

/ / Attack Surface

Today is the US/Canada release-date for Attack Surface, the third Little Brother book. It’s been a long time coming (Homeland, the second book, came out in 2013)!

It’s the fourth book I’ve published in 2020, and it’s my last book of the year.

https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250757531

When the lockdown hit in March, I started thinking about what I’d do if my US/Canada/UK/India events were all canceled, but I still treated it as a distant contingency. But well, here we are!

My US publisher, Tor Books, has put together a series of 8 ticketed events, each with a pair of brilliant, fascinating guests, to break down all the themes in the book. Each is sponsored by a different bookstore and each comes with a copy of the book.

https://read.macmillan.com/torforge/cory-doctorow-virtual-lecture-series/

We kick off the series TONIGHT at 5PM Pacific/8PM Eastern with “Politics and Protest,” sponsored by The Strand NYC, with guests Eva Galperin (EFF Threat Lab) and Ron Deibert (U of T Citizen Lab).

https://www.strandbooks.com/events/event93?title=cory_doctorow_attack_surface

There will be video releases of these events eventually, but if you want to attend more than one and don’t need more than one copy of the book, you can donate your copy to a school, prison, library, etc. Here’s a list of institutions seeking copies:

https://craphound.com/littlebrother/2020/10/05/as-freebies/

And if you are affiliated with an organization or institution that would like to put your name down for a freebie, here’s the form. I’m checking it several times/day and adding new entries to the list:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1uIXO0iV2RyVN6AtDYd1C7ImxS6V0jHWnMNFK179g6H4/

I got a fantastic surprise this morning: a review by Paul Di Filippo in the Washington Post:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/books/cory-doctorows-attack-surface-is-a-riveting-techno-thriller/2020/10/13/a3a178d0-0cb9-11eb-8074-0e943a91bf08_story.html

He starts by calling me “among the best of the current practitioners of near-future sf,” and, incredibly, the review only gets better after that!

Di Filippo says the book is a “political cyberthriller, vigorous, bold and savvy about the limits of revolution and resistance,” whose hero, Masha, is “a protagonist worth rooting for, whose inner conflicts and cognitive dissonances propel her to surprising, heroic actions.”

He closes by saying that my work “charts the universal currents of the human heart and soul with precision.”

I mean, wow.

If you’d prefer an audiobook of Attack Surface; you’re in luck! I produced my own audio edition of the book, with Amber Benson narrating, and it’s amazing!

Those of you who backed the audio on Kickstarter will be getting your emails from BackerKit shortly (I’ve got an email in to them and will post an update to the KS as soon as they get back to me.

If you missed the presale, you can still get the audio, everywhere EXCEPT Audible, who refuse to carry my work as it’s DRM-free (that’s why I had to fund the audiobook; publishers aren’t interested in the rights to audio that can’t be sold on the dominant platform).

Here’s some of the stores carrying the book today:

Libro.fm:
https://libro.fm/audiobooks/9781664913257-attack-surface

Supporting Cast (Audiobooks from Slate):
https://attacksurface.supportingcast.fm/

Bandcamp:
https://corydoctorow.bandcamp.com/album/attack-surface

I expect that both Downpour and Google Play should have copies for sale any minute now (both have the book in their systems but haven’t made it live yet).

And of course, you can get it direct from me, along with all my other ebooks and audiobooks:

https://craphound.com/shop