I will not camouflage the process in which I discovered Cory Doctorow‘s books. Unfortunately, it was nothing so romantic as stealing into a used book shop and thumbing through bins of old books only to discover an interesting cover. eReader’s initial pre-App Store, Jailbreak-only release got me browsing its online shelves for good science fiction in late 2007 and early 2008 – that is where I discovered Doctorow’s Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom.
Of course, most copyrighted works are not available for digital download unless purchased at online shops which are sometimes hard to get at with a Canadian Credit card. Saying that, until discovering ‘Magic Kingdom’, I had come across the Creative Commons Licence naught but several times and did not expect it to encompass books that I wanted to read in my leisure. To my surprise, the annals of the Gutenberg Project server housed thousands of books that I could curl up to including Cory’s. In fact, most of his novels have been published simultaneously by large publishers and under the Creative Commons Licence. What that means for someone like me, who rarely stays in the country longer than a year is that my library can easily be transported in my pocket rather than braving the high seas and months of rotting in a box next to my winter clothes.
Finding Doctorow’s novels was a bit of luck that hinged on my first love of the American science fiction grandmaster, Isaac Asimov. I, Robot has been a favourite collection of mine that, with Asimov’s Robot series, helped shape my definition of science fiction along with The Foundation series and the grand daddy of them all: Frank Herbert’s Dune. Had Cory Doctorow not chosen to title one of his short stories, “I, Robot”, I probably would not have found the delicious Down and Out. And by parenthesis, I would not have found Little Brother, the option to which has been sold to Don Murphy of “Natural Born Killers” and “From Hell” fame. Options are of course, sold all the time and do not secure movies themselves, but at least in this case, have proven the interest of a rather famous moviemaker.
Little Brother, in just a few words, is a story that contrasts innocence and involvement as it traces the lives of several high school students who, along with all of San Francisco, were in the wrong place at the wrong time after a terrorist attack that destroyed the Oakland Bay Bridge and BART transportation system. Without ruining the story, I will merely mention that it escalates into a no-holds barred military state that suspends the rights of all citizens and the Constitution of the United States of America.
Indeed, Little Brother would make an excellent film if Murphy is up to the task. It is clever, perfectly timed and, with issue-founded conservatism of the founding laws of a country, is ripe for moral debate. Above all, it reads like an adventure that could very well happen today and to your child or to you.
Cory Doctorow’s Book can be downloaded from his webpage, or bought from online retailers.
Novels Amazon: Little Brother, Eastern Standard Tribe, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town