Halloo! Kirsten here. Your friendly librarians are going to start sharing some of their favorite authors and books and here are mine! I discovered the author serendipitously while attending one of the Library of Congress’ free lectures several years ago, and after readings his books I found that I always closed the cover having been both entertained and educated. While I’m usually a fan of fantasy, sci-fi, and literary fiction, I find myself being pulled into his suspenseful books, constantly wondering what the next twist will be.
The author’s name is Cory Doctorow — blogger, author, activist, and general nerd. His fiction books are sci-fi/cyber thrillers, and usually center around a young protagonist – but don’t be misled, the stories are complicated, fast-paced, and fun. Doctorow’s non-fiction books are informal monologues on the current state of technology, personal privacy, and freedom of information, and they can often give some insight on what look like complicated issues but are in truth much less convoluted than they seem. Doctorow releases all of his works under Creative Commons license, which means that they are downloadable legally and for free from his web site Here are some of my favorites from his works to get you started.
Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom is a futuristic novel about a group of immortals who live in Disneyland, residing in the rides and keeping the park alive for visitors. Our hero Jules lives in the Haunted Mansion and does his best to fight off intruders who are determined to create invasive new ways to introduce unsuspecting park-goers to the Hall of Presidents. If you are so inclined, it can be ordered via the WRLC or you can download it here.
The second book I’ll mention is a book he wrote for Young Adults, Little Brother. Taking place in a post-9/11 San Francisco in the non-specifically-timed-future, a group of teenagers use their computer hacking skills to help free their kidnapped friend. The story takes place during a terrorist attack and imagines what an out-of-control government lockdown could look like and how it might affect the day-to-day lives of San Franciscans — as well as how the trouble could be resolved by underground team efforts. My favorite part of the story is how Doctorow takes the time to explain parts of technology which may be unfamiliar, as well as tackling difficult parts of our history (such as Cold War era cryptography) with a succinct clarity. Request it via the WRLC or download it here.
Finally, I’ll mention a sampling of Doctorow’s work. The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow is a short story, a transcript of a speech, and an interview about the author’s YA fiction. The short story is about the differences between progress and change and how we choose to live our own lives by choosing between the two. The speech was given in 2010 at the World Science Fiction Convention, and it addresses how Digital Rights Management (DRM) can be harmful to content creators. The interview was conducted by Terry Bisson, a sci-fi author and editor, who is well-equipped to deal with the often-controversial subjects Doctorow addresses. You can request the book via the WRLC or download it here.