This is easily the weirdest novel I ever wrote. Gene Wolfe (RIP) gave me an amazing quote for it: “Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town is a glorious book, but there are hundreds of those. It is more. It is a glorious book unlike any book you’ve ever read.”
Here’s how my publisher described it when it came out:
Alan is a middle-aged entrepeneur who moves to a bohemian neighborhood of Toronto. Living next door is a young woman who reveals to him that she has wings—which grow back after each attempt to cut them off.
Alan understands. He himself has a secret or two. His father is a mountain, his mother is a washing machine, and among his brothers are sets of Russian nesting dolls.
Now two of the three dolls are on his doorstep, starving, because their innermost member has vanished. It appears that Davey, another brother who Alan and his siblings killed years ago, may have returned, bent on revenge.
Under the circumstances it seems only reasonable for Alan to join a scheme to blanket Toronto with free wireless Internet, spearheaded by a brilliant technopunk who builds miracles from scavenged parts. But Alan’s past won’t leave him alone—and Davey isn’t the only one gunning for him and his friends.
Whipsawing between the preposterous, the amazing, and the deeply felt, Cory Doctorow’s Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town is unlike any novel you have ever read.
Here’s my reading (MP3) of Zuck’s Empire of Oily Rags, a Locus Magazine column about the corruption implicit in surveillance capitalism, which creates giant risks to users by collecting sensitive information about them in order to eke out tiny gains in the efficacy of targeted advertising. The commercial surveillance industry may not be very good at selling us fridges, but they’re very good at locating racists and thugs and getting them to support violent political movements.
Here’s my reading (MP3) of Let’s get better at demanding better from tech, a Locus Magazine column about the need to enlist moral, ethical technologists in the fight for a better technological future. It was written before the death of EFF co-founder John Perry Barlow, whose life’s work was devoted to this proposition, and before the Google uprising over Project Maven, in which technologists killed millions in military contracts by refusing to build AI systems for the Pentagon’s drones.