The tagline of Cory Doctorow’s latest release is “dystopia is now.” In four novellas, the Canadian ex-pat ably covers a broad swath of pressing social concerns ranging from police racism to affordable American health care through an only slightly science-fictional lens.
No prior volume has so perfectly encapsulated who Doctorow is or what he thinks we should be worrying about as this one does. In the past, a new reader might have had to read lots of long essays about Makerspaces and net neutrality and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act on his website to get the whole picture.
But now, the answer to the question of where to start with Doctorow can be answered with “right here.”
Previous novels Little Brother and Homeland were like instruction manuals for millennial and generation Z activists, written in the shadow of George W. Bush’s war on terror and the 2008 financial crisis, respectively. They represented moments in time when government curtailment of civil liberties and economic oppression by corporate interests seemed to demand a response.
But that response — a particular brand of socialist and technogeek activism that blends community organizing with internet crowd-sourcing — is even better encapsulated in Unauthorized Bread, in which a young newcomer to the United States risks everything to bust open the operating system of her smart toaster so that she, and an entire building full of refugees, can actually afford to eat.
Cory Doctorow, blogger, journalist, science fiction author, and co-editor of the blog Boing Boing, talks about why he’s a great believer in the Internet, warts and all; how, as a white male, he became aware of the struggles of people furthest from opportunity; and how he keeps a positive outlook on life. Cory’s latest book is Radicalized: Four Tales of Our Present Moment.
The LA Public Library’s Daryl M interviewed me about my new book, Radicalized, specifically, about how my Trump anxiety (created, in part, by the platforms’ relentless use of “engagement” tools to nonconsensually eyeball-fuck me with Trump headlines) led to the book’s germination, as well as the specific inspirations for each of the four novellas, and the delights of working in novella form.
Next week is my Southern California nonstop Radicalized and advocacy week: I’m starting with a signing at Burbank’s Dark Delicacies on Sunday at 4PM, alongside Leslie S. Klinger & Lisa Morton, who are signing their new anthology Ghost Stories: Classic Tales of Horror & Suspense. more